A 1-2 week for Viking volleyball

On Oct. 8, the Vikings hosted the University of Portland Pilots in game two of what has been touted as the “River City Rivalry.” This was the second of four straight home matches for the Vikings.

Portland State came away with the win in the last match-up between these two teams in August. This time, the Pilots swept the Vikings in three sets (30-23, 30-23, 30-27).

Katie Kost led PSU with 11 kills, while Stephanie Lavinge posted 35 assists. Kristin Ratzlaff helped out defensively with eight digs.

“When you beat a team earlier in the season and then lose to them, it makes you think about what’s happened in the interim,” coach Jeff Mozzochi said. “It comes down to who’s ready to play on any given night. They came ready to play and we didn’t.”

The loss to the Pilots was the sixth straight loss for the struggling Viking squad.

The team bounced back two nights later in a match-up with the Idaho State Bengals. The victory was a big one for PSU, putting an end to their losing streak while also giving them a much-needed win over a fellow Big Sky Conference team. The loss dropped the Bengals to 1-4 in the conference, 7-11 in the season.

The Vikings won sets one and two with scores of 30-27 and 30-17, respectively. The Bengals fought their way back in game three, winning 30-28.

A determined PSU team started strong in game four with an early 9-1 run. Idaho State, behind Kylie Gilmore’s 18 kills and 12 digs, stayed close for most of the set but eventually fell to the Vikings 35-33.

This was the first time in six meetings with the Bengals that the Vikings have been victorious. The last time the Portland State beat Idaho State was at home in 1998.

Junior Richell Wilson had a great offensive game with 24 kills. Stacy Ball had 12 kills, an impressive .647 hitting percentage and 10 blocks for the night.

But Thursday’s victory was short-lived. The Vikings faltered once again in Saturday’s match-up with the Weber State Wildcats.

Weber State won in four games (30-25, 23-30, 30-19, 30-25) despite Wilson’s 20 kills and Lavinge’s 41 assists. Ratzlaff had 19 digs. This Big Sky Conference loss dropped Portland State to a record of 8-7 overall, 6-7 in NCAA scoring matches and 1-4 in the conference.

“Right now we’re focusing on the mental and physical fundamentals of the game,” Mozzochi said. “This is still a group trying to find its identity.”

The Vikings will travel to Sacramento State on Oct. 17 for another Big Sky Conference match. Last time the Vikings and Hornets met was in the 2001 season, the Hornets stung the Vikings 3-1, in Sacramento. The Hornets are currently riding a one game win streak beating Montana 3-2.