Volleyball team exits Big Sky tourney

On Friday night the Vikings’ historic season and Big Sky tournament hopes were ended at the hands of Eastern Washington University. The number two seed Vikings were upset by the third seed Eagles 3-1 in the semifinals, marking the second straight loss to Eastern Washington in their third head-to-head meeting of the year.

The Eagles prevailed to the championship game to face off against tournament favorite and host Sacramento State for the sixth straight season. The Hornets would prove victorious and be crowned Big Sky champions for the fourth straight year, winning by a score of 3-1.

In the first round of the Big Sky Conference tournament Eastern Washington defeated Weber State 3-1, after losing the first game of the match and rallying to win the final three straight games. It required five games but Montana State also advanced to the semifinals by beating Idaho State in the first round Thursday night. Setting up semifinal matches of Portland State versus Eastern Washington and Montana State versus Sacramento State.

The return of inconsistent play by the Vikings on Friday night led to their loss to the Eagles, a trend that plagued them throughout this memorable season. This season whenever the Vikings came out determined to execute their game they were quite possibly the toughest team to beat in the Big Sky, victorious over both title-game participants Eastern Washington and Sacramento State earlier in the season.

However at times the Viks would lose their swagger and fail to execute their game. When this occurred the results were disastrous. They lost many matches to squads they were capable of beating very early and late in the season due to their continual inconsistent play.

An equal and constant contribution by the Eagles proved to be the difference against the Viks in their semifinal match-up. While the Vikings had only three players with double-digit kills, the Eagles had four and two more players with six. This even distribution of kills, a lack of blocks and a meager hitting percentage of .211 spoiled the Vikings’ chances of advancing to the tournament’s championship game.

They were defeated and outplayed in every facet of the game against an experienced Eagles’ squad, one that has appeared in the title game for the previous five seasons. Experience is the one aspect that isn’t reflected in the box score; numbers or percentages simply can’t represent it. The Viks were outmatched in experience more than any other aspect of the game.

Sacramento State triumphed over Montana State in their semifinal match, winning in a clean sweep three games to zero. The Hornets dominated in every aspect of the match including a 50 to 29 kill disparity and an additional 10 blocks.

In the ever-so-recurrent title bout between heavyweights Eastern Washington and Sacramento State on Saturday night the Hornets defeated the Eagles 3-1 en route to their fourth straight title. These two squads have met in the championship match seven of the last eight years, with the Hornets winning 5-1 overall. Sacramento State’s win marks the first time since the 2000 season, when once again Sacramento State defeated Eastern Washington, that the Big Sky regular season champion also won the tournament. With their victory in the Big Sky tournament the Hornets have earned an automatic bid into the NCAA volleyball tournament.

Portland State may have had an excellent season, especially by establishing themselves as a formidable program in the Big Sky Conference. This season the Viks have been successful in overcoming many obstacles that the program has faced, making significant strides that will prove beneficial in the years to come.

This program has an abundance of potential and an extremely bright future. Although the Vikings won’t be competing in the NCAA tournament they still have one match remaining on this season’s schedule, a Tuesday match against cross-town rival University of Portland.