Volleyball prepares for two Big Sky rivals

The Vikings will hit the road this week for match-ups against two Big Sky Conference rivals.

Tonight Portland State is in Ogden, Utah to face the Weber State Wildcats. Historically, these two teams have been evenly matched. The Vikings lead the all-time series 12-10, but have not dominated in recent competitions. Thursday’s game in Ogden will be a tie-breaker for matches held in Utah, where both teams have won five games apiece.

The Wildcats currently have a Big Sky record of 7-4, placing them solidly in fourth place overall. The team is almost assured a place in the conference tournament at this point, and possesses one of the strongest offensive games in the league, ranking second in kill totals (15.26) and assists (13.66).

The Vikings fell to Weber State 3-1 in their last match-up this season. Viking Richell Wilson had 20 kills in that game, while Kathy Garbacz and Katie Kost added 15 and 12 more. Stephanie Lavigne had 41 assists on the night.

Wildcat standout Stephanie Kropushek will have to be contained tonight if the Vikings want a chance at a win. She routinely posts team-high scores and is ranked second in conference kills per game. She had 23 against PSU in October. Senior Holly Monato is also one to watch for. She had 21 kills in that last game and is currently ranked fifth in conference kills per game.

������ Next the Vikings will face Idaho State in Pocatello on Saturday in a crucial game. Idaho State is currently ranked at sixth place in the Big Sky, one game ahead of the seventh place Vikings.

The Vikings have played well against the Bengals both this season and historically. PSU leads the overall series 15-9 and defeated Idaho State in an early season match 3-1.

Bengals Ali Gorny and Melanie Tucker are the two main offensive threats to watch for. Gorny had 14 kills and 18 digs in Idaho State’s last game against PSU.

Portland State’s previous win over the Bengals was definitely a group effort. Richell Wilson really stepped up and led the Vikings with 24 kills and 5 digs. Katie Kost had 15 kills, while Stacey Ball and Kathy Garbacz had 12 and 10 kills apiece. In recent matches sophomores Lisa Thomas and Rachel Mogan seem to have hit their strides, and could prove to be key components in Viking success for the rest of the season.

Next week the Vikings will finish off regular season play with home games against Northern Arizona and Sacramento State.