PULLING TOGETHER: Portland State’s volleyball team is on fire. Their strong teamwork is paying off; they are 8–0 in conference.
The Portland State women’s volleyball team kept their winning streak going and advanced their record to 8–0 in conference over the weekend. The Vikings swept the Northern Colorado Bears on Thursday and conference newcomer North Dakota on Saturday, with good teamwork between the setters and hitters and strong serving and blocking.
The Vikings came out strong in both matches, easily taking set one both nights. The early momentum was crucial for the Vikings’ Thursday victory against Northern Colorado, as the Bears boast an 11–1 win record in matches in which they’ve won the first set.
Junior outside hitter Aubrey Mitchell said of Thursday’s win: “We stayed who we are. We passed really well, we served really tough, we took swings on match point and it worked.”
Before the Bears had a chance, the Vikings made their presence known in the first set against the third-ranked team. Set two mirrored the first, with the Vikings winning 25–17.
In the third set, the Bears launched a comeback and halted the Vikings at a 20-all tie. After the score went back and forth on the score board the Viking fans were on their feet at match point 24–22. But the home fans would have to wait, as the Bears scored two more points, tying the set 24–24.
Northern Colorado next gave the Vikings a break with a service error, and senior outside hitter Megan Ellis slammed a kill to win the set 26–24.
“We put the ball in our senior’s hands, and she took a great swing to get us that point,” coach Michael
Seemann said of the finish. “They had a nice block; they made a nice play on her. I’m glad that the ball found her hand again. She made a good choice there on the attack.”
Ellis had a match-high 14 kills on Thursday, alongside teammates Mitchell, who hit her season-best of 11 kills, and junior outside hitter Jaklyn Wheeler, who had 12.
The Vikings carried their momentum from Thursday into Saturday and came out hot against North Dakota, who made a run in set two. Despite the surge by the visiting team, the Vikings ended the set with a final kill from sophomore middle blocker Leigh-Ann Haataja.
In the final set, North Dakota again kept the score close, forcing the Vikings to hit for two match points. Eventually PSU took the match with a 26–24 win.
Seemann said that blocking was a key factor to keeping the score close and forcing errors against North Dakota.
Wheeler added to her coach’s statement: “Our blocking has come a long way this season. It’s been huge.”
Wheeler scored her 12th double-double of the season on Saturday with 11 kills and 12 digs. The Vikings out-blocked North Dakota with the help of Haataja and Garyn Schlatter, who each had six block assists.
In the end, the Vikings proved they know how to take care of the ball and play their game. The team was able to stay in system against both a well known opponent and a brand new Big Sky team.
“Obviously the momentum is with us right now,” Wheeler said. “We did really well in focusing on our side of the net, worrying about us and going point for point.”
The Vikings hit the road next weekend to face Idaho State on Friday at 6 p.m. and Weber State on Saturday at 6 p.m. Live stats can be found at goviks.com.