Vikings takes second at Classic

The Portland State Volleyball team took second place and improved to 7-2 on the season at the Viking Classic Tournament two weekends ago, beating the University of Maine and Chicago State on the first day, and then falling to the University of British Columbia on the second day

The Vikings headed into the Classic, the team’s third preseason tournament of the year, with a record of 5-1. The five wins the Viks took into the tournament equaled half the team’s victories in NCAA matches in 2002, when it finished at 10-14 against NCAA teams and 12-14 overall.

PSU dropped the first game against Maine, 28-30. Maine hit .324 in the first game, but then lost the second by a margin of nine points after PSU put eight unanswered points on the scoreboard. The match went to five games, with the Vikings winning the tie-breaking fifth game 15-11.

In the second match, the Viks took on Chicago State for the second time in less than a week and shut out the Cougars 3-0. The teams met for the first time in the Nike Portland Pilot Preview on Sept. 6, where Portland State also shut them out 3-0. The Vikings recorded 54 kills and a .351 hitting average against Chicago State in the Viking Classic, their best performance of the tournament.

In the third match against British Columbia, with the tournament championship on the line, the Vikings recorded 77 kills and a .198 hitting percentage. UBC only recorded 65 kills but hit .250, with the difference coming on errors, where PSU committed 17 more than the Thunderbirds.

The Vikings offense in the match against Maine was led by junior outside hitter Niki Lambert, who recorded 22 kills and a .514 hitting percentage.

Junior setter Stephanie Lavigne had a season high of 68 assists in the match, while senior outside hitter Richell Wilson, who was a 2nd team All-Big Sky player last season, claimed her third double-double of the season with 20 kills and 20 digs. Wilson also recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 25 kills and 23 digs against UBC.

Junior Lisa Thomas and freshman Jessica Vanzant both hit .571 against Chicago, and recorded four and 13 kills, respectively. Vanzant also hit .519 and scored 18 kills against UBC.

The Viks opened last season with a record of 5-0, its best start since 1997, but then dropped their next six matches and ended the season with a record of 4-10 against Big Sky teams, including a first round exit in the Big Sky Tournament.

This season’s start signals the beginning of a long-awaited turn-around in the volleyball program that began in 2001 with the return of head coach Jeff Mozzochi, who left PSU after the 1992 season to take the head-coaching job at Oregon State.

Before Mozzochi’s return, PSU had lost 47 straight matches beginning in 1999 and running all the way through the 2000 season. But that all changed when he returned to Portland State.

In his first stint as the Viks head coach, which began in 1984, Mozzochi’s teams posted nine winning seasons with four Division II National Championships and three regional-finalist finishes. In his 11 total seasons coaching the PSU volleyball program, he has attained a record of 301-105, or a .741 average.