Viking volleyball falls out of the Big Sky

For the first time ever, the Portland State volleyball team made a trip to the Big Sky Championships last Thursday. But its history-making visit was cut short by a 3-1 loss to the third-seed Montana State Bobcats (30-25, 24-30, 30-25, 30-23).

PSU entered the single-elimination tournament as the sixth and final seed, poised to take on third seed Montana State in Cheney, Wash. Before the game, head coach Jeff Mozzochi was optimistic about his team’s prospects but stressed the importance of containing Bobcats Ana Shanze and Aimee Halyk, who combined for 37 kills and six digs against PSU in the last match-up between the teams – a match-up that resulted in a 3-1 win for Montana State.

“The six teams in the tournament are very good,” Mozzochi said. “We have a game plan that includes keeping an eye on Ana Shanze and Aimee Halyk. We are probably not going to stop them, but we need to control them and always know where they are on the court.”

The Viking strategy was somewhat successful in Thursday’s game, where Shanze was held to just eight kills and five digs, while Halyk was able to post 13 kills and six digs. What the Viking’s were not expecting was the solid 18 kills and 21 digs from LeAnne Kinvig, who only had eight kills and 13 digs in the last match-up.

Viking Richell Wilson, who has been a major presence for PSU all season, led the team with 26 kills and 10 digs, her ninth double-double of the season. Lisa Thomas added 13 kills to the team total, while Stephanie Lavigne contributed 16 digs and 56 assists. Kristin Ratzlaff and Stacy Ball had 15 and 14 digs apiece, while Kristina Thom had 11. In her last game as a Viking, senior Katie Kost posted a team-high 4 blocks.

“They played hard, and I don’t think they were intimidated,” Mozzochi stated in a press release after the game. “They were very excited to be here, and hopefully that’s a foundation we can build on.”

Montana State lost its second-round match to second seed Sacramento State on Friday. Sacramento State went on to defeat first seed Eastern Washington in the championship game on Saturday. Sacramento State has now earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships.

The Vikings ended their season with a record of 10-14.