The Portland State volleyball team continued their strong play this season, holding on to their top ranking in the Big Sky conference after sweeping Montana State University and the University of Montana over the weekend.
Set, Match: Garyn Schlatter lays the groundwork for the Vikings attack. With two victories over the weekend, PSU maintained its stranglehold on the Big Sky conference standings.
On Thursday, senior outside hitter Megan Ellis led the Vikings to victory in four sets over the Montana State Bobcats. Two days later, at the annual “Dig Pink Match” for breast cancer awareness at the Stott Center, junior outside hitter Aubrey Mitchell had one of her best career matches as Portland State notched another four-set win against the Montana Grizzlies.
Thursday night was all about Ellis. The senior slammed 20 kills, claiming her 13th double-double of the season with 13 digs. Junior outside hitter Jaklyn Wheeler and junior setter Garyn Schlatter also contributed double-doubles.
“Megan’s coming out every night and playing tough, playing well,” head coach Michael Seemann said. “She’s our steadiest player, even emotionally—whether we’re down or up, she plays the same.”
With the three upperclassmen taking the lead, the Vikings took the first set 25-14. But after the initial setback, the Bobcats (13-9, 7-7 in conference) made it abundantly clear that they would not go down without a fight. Back-and-forth scoring was the story throughout most of the second set, which the Vikings finally claimed 25-23 on a Bobcat error at set point.
The third set progressed in much the same way, but it was the Bobcats who had the last word, as Montana State claimed set three 25-21 to extend the match to a fourth set. The Vikings responded by taking the lead early and never looked back, closing out the match 25-21. With the win, Portland State remained undefeated on their home court in Big Sky play.
“These are great teams coming into the gym,” Seemann said after Thursday’s match. “We have to continue to not take anything for granted on our side of the net, and make sure we stay aggressive and do the things that help us function well.”
Those words rang true on Saturday, when the Montana Griz (6-17, 4-10 in conference), forced the Vikings to work for their four-set win. Mitchell, whose 18 kills tied her career-high, took control in the match as the Vikings gutted out another victory.
Seemann has become accustomed to this kind of effort from Mitchell. “She comes to play every time,” he said. “The whole match, I kept saying to staff on the bench, ‘We can’t give her the ball enough.’”
The Bobcats didn’t make it easy on them. After falling behind early in the first set, they stormed back to take the lead 8-7, eventually claiming the set 25-21. The Vikings made the necessary adjustments, however, taking a tough second set by a score of 25-20. They carried that momentum into the third and won 25-22—even after a
violent dive by Schlatter into the scorers’ table left the setter with a bloody nose.
Without missing a beat, the Vikings kept the pressure on their opponent. With the help of sophomore libero Kasimira Clark making some key back-row saves, the team fought their way through the fourth set to win it 25-18.
Mitchell, Ellis and the rest of the Vikings will now go on the road to face Southern Utah University and Northern Arizona University this weekend.