Heading into a pivotal match-up against Northern Colorado tonight, the Vikings will be starting their toughest road trip in Big Sky Conference play thus far.
Heading into a pivotal match-up against Northern Colorado tonight, the Vikings will be starting their toughest road trip in Big Sky Conference play thus far. Landing in Greeley, Colo., Portland State will have their hands full with a Bears team that matches up well at every position against the Vikings.
“Both of our teams are similar,” said head coach Michael Seemann. “They have a lot of speed. They have some big kids in the right areas.”
Led by a senior-laden team that boasts a 5-1 conference record, the Bears rarely make mistakes in any facet of the game. With most of their success a product of good team play, they enter tonight’s game as the top-hitting team in the conference with a .239 average, and are second in both assists and kills.
While their stats make it evident that most of their success comes from good team play, they are lead partly by the stellar contributions from outside hitter Ashley Lichtenburg and setter Marissa Hughes. Lichtenburg is hitting a whopping .355 this year, and is someone the Vikings will need to key in on to be successful.
“We want to slow down their middles,” Seemann said. “They have a great outside [hitter]. We’re going to try and hold her down a little.”
After Northern Colorado, the Vikings will travel to the northern part of another state—Arizona. Playing the Lumberjacks on their home court, Portland State will have to stay focused and not let emotions from the Northern Colorado game disrupt their play on Saturday.
“Their record, and what they have done so far, indicates they can put some pressure on you,” Seemann said. “You don’t want to come out of this weekend 0-2.”
Led by the play of newcomer Kelli Dallman, their freshman setter, Northern Arizona will be a tough out for the Vikings, especially on the road. With a young team that has three freshmen starters, the Lumberjacks could be dangerous, strictly based on their lack of exposure to and respect for the Vikings.
Despite their seventh-place ranking, Northern Arizona has shown signs of improvement and had their second highest hitting percentage (.319) in a win against Montana State last weekend. The key to the game will be who can play sound team defense and who can control the middle of the net.
Seemann says a goal for his team is to serve tough and take the advantage away from the Lumberjacks. “They play good defense,” he said.
Reaching the mid-point of Big Sky Conference play, the Vikings could give themselves some breathing room if they win this week. While Northern Colorado is clearly the more important of the two, winning both should serve notice to the rest of the conference that Portland State is the team to beat.