The scene could not have set up any more perfectly for Portland State on Saturday night. Facing the second-place team in the conference on a night when they honored lone senior libero Jalen Pendon-Thomas, the Vikings had the opportunity to secure their second consecutive regular season conference championship in front of a season-high crowd of 932 people.
The scene could not have set up any more perfectly for Portland State on Saturday night.
Facing the second-place team in the conference on a night when they honored lone senior libero Jalen Pendon-Thomas, the Vikings had the opportunity to secure their second consecutive regular season conference championship in front of a season-high crowd of 932 people.
But the hype outmatched the performance on the court, as Eastern Washington easily dismantled the Vikings in three sets, 25-19, 25-21, 25-15.
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for Portland State and dropped the team into a first-place tie with Eastern Washington with just one game remaining.
It was the Vikings second loss to the Eagles this season, giving Eastern Washington the tiebreaker should both teams defeat Sacramento State next weekend.
“We came out flat and didn’t ever really respond to the things that they were doing,” said head coach Michael Seemann. “Eastern played well, and I give them credit, but we did not do anything right tonight.”
A powerful Eagles blocking attack stymied the Vikings at the net all night, as Eastern Washington recorded 18 total blocks on the night. Junior setter Ashley Hamilton had four blocks to go with her 30 assists and three kills.
Offensively, Eastern Washington relied on their star junior outside hitter Hayley Hills for 18 kills on 42 total attacks. She also had seven digs.
“We felt like we knew what they were going to do, but we didn’t have a good block and we didn’t have good passing, and those are the things that keep you from winning games,” Seemann said.
The fans who came to the Stott Center expecting to see the Vikings clinch their second consecutive regular-season conference championship saw Portland State get out hustled and out executed by an Eagle team that looked more athletic and more talented for the majority of the match.
The six-game winning streak the Vikings had before Saturday’s match had been a product of strong play from junior outside hitters Marija Vojnovic and Jennifer Oney as well as middle blocker Erica Jepsen.
While all three of those players struggled, Eagle sophomore middle blocker Chenoa Coviare captained a defense at the net that not only slowed the Viking offense but shut them down completely.
Coviare had seven blocks while sophomore Allison Reinstein had four, with each doing their part to slow the Vikings.
The Vikings hit just .034 in the match and were completely shut out during the third set. Portland State managed just six kills but had nine errors for a negative .073 hitting percentage.
“It’s disappointing to play like that in a big game. We didn’t have a good night anywhere on the court,” Seemann said.
The Vikings will now have to hope that Eastern Washington loses to Sacramento State on Friday in order to give the Vikings a shot at the conference championship with a win over those same Hornets on Saturday.
Either way, the Vikings and Eagles could very well meet again in the Stott Center, their next match possibly coming in the Big Sky Tournament.