One win away Viks have volleyball title within reach

Women’s volleyball enters the season’s final match this weekend with the regular season championship on the line.

Women’s volleyball enters the season’s final match this weekend with the regular season championship on the line. 

The Vikings (22-6, 13-2 Big Sky Conference) play host to the Sacramento State Hornets tonight, and a win will earn Portland State the championship title and No. 1 seed in next weekend’s PSU-hosted conference tournament.

The Hornets (15-5, 8-6 Big Sky) will come to the Park Blocks also vying for a win to

ensure a spot in the Big Sky Championship. The Vikings have bitter memories of the first match against Sac State this season when the Hornets beat the Viks in a nail-biting five-set match.

What’s happening with the Viks

Portland State comes off last weekend’s win over top-ranked Northern Colorado, with which it is tied for first place in the conference. If Northern Colorado wins this weekend against Eastern Washington, PSU must win to earn the regular season title. Since the Viks handed NC its only two losses in league play, PSU holds the advantage in the tie-breaker if both teams win this weekend.

The Vikings’ victory over the NC Bears was a five-set fight to the finish, with Portland State coming out on top, 3-2. Head coach Michael Seemann said the increased performance from his blockers in the fourth set allowed the match to go into a fifth and deciding set.

On offense, it was senior outside hitter Whitney Phillips that led for the Viks, as she has done for much of the season. Phillips posted her 16th double-double with 23 kills and 13 digs against the Bears. Seemann said she is getting more consistent with her hitting, and this weekend will need to continue controlling her riskier swings to ensure accuracy. 

Alongside Phillips, the other three seniors led the way for the Viks. Outside hitter/middle blocker Christie Hamilton put up 15 kills, middle blocker Lana Zielke had 13, and on defense libero Diana Villalpando led with 26 digs.

Last Friday, before the Vikings went up against the Bears, PSU was in Flagstaff, Ariz., where the team swept the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks for the 13th-straight win over the Jacks.

“[It] was a really tough weekend on the road,” Seemann said. “And to come off 2-0 is just really great.”

Seemann said this weekend the Vikings must focus in on Sac State’s top players while maintaining balance on the court. Regardless of the outcome, the Viks will remain one of the top two seeds going into the Big Sky Championship.

A look at the Hornets

Sac State is currently tied with Idaho State in the third-place position. Montana sits behind the pair in fifth place. With the Vikings and Bears already securing a spot in the postseason, the Hornets are playing PSU with hopes to secure one of the last two spots in the Big Sky tournament.

Sac State, Montana and Idaho State all have two matches left to play. If Sac State shares identical records with Montana, the Hornets will own the tiebreaker, but Idaho State owns the tiebreaker if they tie with the Hornets.

Sac State is coming off of a pair of wins against the Montana schools last weekend. They swept both teams starting with the Montana Lady Griz on Friday and the Montana State Bobcats on Saturday.

In the match against the Lady Griz the Hornets outblocked their opponents, 11-3. Montana came into the match as the conference leading blocking squad. They also hit a season high .388 attack percentage.

Junior outside hitter Eryn Kirby led the Hornets in both matches. Her performance over the weekend earned her a Big Sky Player of the Week honor. She led with 15 kills in both matches, and served three aces against the Lady Griz. Kirby is second for the Hornets with her nine double-doubles.

The Hornets will finish both their final regular season games on the road; after they hit the Park Blocks, the team heads to Eastern Washington for its final match of the season.

Last meeting

In the first meeting of the two teams, the Hornets handed the Vikings their first conference loss. Despite the Vikings winning out nearly every statistical category, Sac State still came out on top 3-2.

Sophomore setter Megan Ellis led the Viks with her career best 18 kills and 25 digs. For the Hornets it was freshman outside hitter/opposite hitter Kayla Beal that led the team with 18 kills. Kirby posted a double-double with 14 kills and 12 digs.?