Lake Elsinore’s Devyn Pritchard is now the primary libero on the San Diego State University volleyball team, and during the Sept. 15-16 Denver Invitational tournament she had 49 digs to contribute to the Aztecs winning the tournament hosted by Denver University.
“I thought I did good. I tried my best to lead the serve-receive passing,” Pritchard said.
Although San Diego State lost a five-game match to the University of California, Riverside Sept. 15 the Aztecs won both Sept. 16 matches with victories over Gonzaga in five games and over Denver University in four sets.
“We played with a lot of energy and heart. I felt like we came out with the expectation of winning the tournament,” Pritchard said. “We were all happy with our performance as a whole this weekend.”
The Aztecs had a similar result when they hosted the JLABS Challenge tournament the previous week, losing Sept. 8 against Loyola Marymount but winning Sept. 9 contests against Long Beach State and Pacific. “We came off a good home tournament,” Pritchard said.
The match against Long Beach State was the only one of those which went five sets; Pritchard had 22 digs against the 49ers.
Pritchard led the team with 21 digs in the Denver Invitational match against UC Riverside. She added six assists against the Highlanders. Her 15 digs against Gonzaga were also the team high for the match, and Pritchard had four assists. She also had two serving aces against the Bulldogs. “Coach was very happy with my serving this weekend,” Pritchard said.
Deitre Collins-Parker is the Aztecs’ head coach. “She had us serving specific targets and I was doing my best to hit it every time,” Pritchard said.
Pritchard had two serving errors in 24 serves against UC Riverside, 26 serves with no errors against Gonzaga, and 17 serves with one error against Denver.
As a back row player Pritchard rarely takes attack swings, but she had two kills in two hitting attempts against Gonzaga for a 1.000 hitting percentage. The swings were the first she took during the 2017 season.
Pritchard remembered that earlier in the match the Gonzaga players had been backing up while on defense in preparation for the Aztecs’ third touch. Pritchard, who had the second touch, developed an alternate plan. “I just put it over on two and they weren’t ready for it,” she said.
The four games against Denver included 13 digs by Pritchard along with five assists.
The six assists against UC Riverside constituted a season high for Pritchard, and the 15 assists in the tournament brought her season total to 41 for the 46 sets she played in the Aztecs’ 13 matches.
“The setters were playing some good defense this weekend, so I was able to get some assists,” Pritchard said.
Playing three matches including two on the same day in the Mile High City wasn’t a challenge for Pritchard. “It wasn’t too bad at Denver,” she said. “A lot of our conference games are at elevation.”
The University of Wyoming gymnasium is at 7,220 feet above sea level. Air Force home matches are at 7,085 feet. The University of New Mexico and Colorado State University gymnasiums are at altitudes exceeding 5,000 feet, and the elevation is more than 4,500 feet at Utah State University and the University of Nevada.
“It just takes a little while to get used to,” Pritchard said.
“It’s more difficult to play at elevation. We always go a day early so we can get extra practice,” Pritchard said. “There’s less oxygen. It’s harder for us to breathe.”
This is Pritchard’s fourth collegiate season. She was also the Aztecs’ primary libero in 2015 and 2016. During the 2014 season she played in all 29 of the Aztecs’ matches as a libero or defensive specialist.
Pritchard attended Murrieta Mesa High School as a freshman, sophomore, and junior and transferred to Temescal Canyon High School for her senior year. She played club volleyball with Viper and 951 Elite.
The Denver Invitational tournament, which concluded the Aztecs’ play prior to Mountain West Conference competition, gave Pritchard team-leading season totals of 174 digs and 11 serving aces.
“I’m looking forward to a good conference play,” Pritchard said.