The Portland State volleyball team survived the weekend. The Vikings concluded their weekend matches against Montana State (12-13, 5-6) and Montana (13-14, 2-10) with two victories and many questions to consider. Montana State and Montana presented the Viks with some challenges, causing them to play out of character several times throughout the weekend’s matches.
For the first time since beginning their eight-match winning streak Portland State played especially inconsistent. Inconsistency was a word that loomed around the Vikings prior to their win streak, but since then the team had found some consistency and seemed on the right track. However, some of the old bad habits resurfaced last weekend.
Against the Montana State Bobcats on Friday the Viks started out “flat,” as head coach Jeff Mozzochi said, making numerous mistakes that resulted in a first-game loss by the score of 27-30. However the Vikings fought back and appeared to transform into another squad in the final three games, winning all three in quite commanding fashion, 30-19, 30-25 and 30-16.
“We came out a little flat,” Mozzochi said. “I think we were sitting back and waiting to see what was going to happen rather than being the aggressor. We minimized some of our mistakes and played with discipline. This was a good solid win.”
“We didn’t come prepared in the first game, it was because of all of our errors,” junior outside hitter Jessica Vanzant said. “It wasn’t them beating us, it was us beating ourselves.”
Even with the lackluster performance in game one the Vikings produced a statistical outburst, especially senior setter Stephanie Lavigne who finished the match with a career-high 71 assists. High-flying junior outside hitter Jessica Brodie accumulated a match-high 26 kills and added eight digs, while Jessica Vanzant tallied an outstanding hitting percentage of .647 and nabbed an additional 24 kills.
“They were putting balls away for me and helping me out,” senior setter Stephanie Lavigne said about her career night. “They were taking smart shots.”
The Vikings began their second match of the weekend against Montana extremely well, winning the first two games 30-28 and 30-22. However, following the intermission after the second game it seemed that a significantly different Viking squad appeared on the court.
Instead of playing the disciplined volleyball that led them to victory in the first two games the Vikings started to allow balls to drop into the interior of their defense. The Grizzlies rallied to win the next two games convincingly by scores of 26-30 and 17-30.
“Everyone made an error or two at different points. We compounded error on top of error and then we become nervous and careful instead of aggressive,” said junior libero Sarah Sirianni. “We executed when it counted. That’s what good teams do.”
Careless and undisciplined play continued until the Viks began to rally back from a 14-8 deficit late in the fifth frame. The PSU team that won the first two games once again appeared, playing absolutely flawless and determined volleyball. Ultimately the Viks persevered, dramatically winning the game 17-15 and securing victory number 20 on the season.
“We played extremely undisciplined all night,” Mozzochi said. “We completely lost our focus after game two. I don’t have any explanation on why it went south and I don’t have any explanation on why at 14-8 in the fifth game we decided to play. But a win is better then a loss.”
“It was a weird feeling on the court,” Lavigne said. ” There were some communication problems and a lack of focus.”
A few bright spots shined through for the Vikings in the statistics department. Stephanie Lavigne followed her career night by adding 56 assists. Jessica Vanzant had another superb performance with 22 kills and a .421 hitting percentage, while Jessica Brodie had five serve aces.
“There are always adjustments to make in our system.” Lavigne said. “We are ready to hit the gym on Monday.”
When the Vikings were playing well they were unstoppable, yet even with the two wins inconsistencies have been exposed. Oregon is next on the Vikings’ schedule with the two teams facing off Tuesday in Eugene. They only question that remains is which Viking squad will show-up?