The Portland State women’s volleyball team scored two decisive victories this weekend, beating Eastern Washington University on Thursday and California State University, Sacramento on Saturday. They are now 15-8 overall and 11-1 in conference play, sitting atop the Big Sky rankings.
The Vikings shared the wealth this weekend, benefitting from solid efforts by several players.
Junior outside hitter Aubrey Mitchell collected a match-high 11 kills on Thursday and led the Vikings to a clean sweep over the visiting Eastern Washington Eagles. Mitchell’s performance, along with key serving and blocking by her teammates, allowed PSU to hold their opponents to a negative hitting percentage.
Turning in set scores of 25-16, 25-16 and 25-18, the Vikings soared past their winless Dam Cup rival. Eastern Washington, 0-22 overall and 0-11 in Big Sky play, have struggled all season with injuries.
“We wanted to keep our foot on the gas,” head coach Michael Seemann said. “We knew that they were struggling a little bit, but we just wanted to make sure that if they were going to score, they had to earn their points.”
On Saturday, the Vikings were treated to a breakout performance by sophomore middle blocker Leigh-Ann Haataja.
PSU had their usual stars on the front lines with Mitchell, senior outside hitter Megan Ellis and junior setter Garyn Schlatter, but when Sacramento State started to zero in on the outside hitters, Haataja took control. She slammed a career-high 13 kills along with seven blocks. Ellis also contributed 18 kills to the effort, while junior outside hitter Jaklyn Wheeler had 17 and Mitchell claimed 10. It was only the second time this season that the Vikings had four players in double-digits.
“We got a lot of production from Leigh-Ann, which is huge help for us,” Seemann said. “I thought Garyn put them in good situations. It was a moving target—we started off hot with Aubrey, then by doing that it kind of opened up our middles.”
Sacramento State’s style of play favors longer rallies, but the Vikings also relied on solid back row defense by sophomore libero Kasimira Clark to secure crucial saves on the floor.
“It was huge tonight,” Haataja said. “Our back row did a really good job scrapping and playing hard. Sac would take some big swings. We got in there and kept fighting hard.”
Sacramento State led the opening set, but after going up 5-1, the Vikings caught up and eventually pulled ahead to take a 20-11 lead. The Hornets rallied to close the difference, but the Vikings held strong and won the opening set 25-18. After claiming the second set by a score of 25-17, it appeared as though they would take the sweep. They were up 21-18 in the third when the Hornets went on a seven-point run to win it 25-21. The Vikings answered with a decisive 25-13 fourth-set win.
PSU will be at home again this week when they take on the Montana State University Bobcats on Thursday at 7 p.m., followed by a match on Saturday against the University of Montana Lady Griz at 7 p.m.