In a season of firsts the Vikings add another to the evolving list, their first loss in nearly a month. It seems appropriate that the team that Portland State began its winning streak by beating was also the team to snap the streak. On Saturday Sacramento State defeated Portland State in four games, extending their own steak to 10 consecutive victories and killing the Vikings’ eight-match winning streak.
Despite the loss the Viks are still second in the Big Sky, just two games behind the Hornets with an overall record of 18-6 and an 8-3 Big Sky mark. This weekend’s road trip wasn’t entirely harmful to the Vikings. Only two nights prior, the Vikings made it short and sweet by beating Northern Arizona in three consecutive games, their first win on the road against NAU since 2001. It was a weekend of extreme peaks and valleys for the Viks, with Portland State peaking at NAU.
The ‘Jacks proved to be no match for Portland State on Thursday. The Vikings won convincingly in three games. However the games were marginally close, 30-25, 30-22 and 30-20. In the end the Lumberjacks were simply outmatched by a more formidable opponent.
“Northern Arizona is always a tough place to play, with an altitude of about 7,000 feet they have a pretty good home court advantage,” head coach Jeff Mozzochi said. “I think that our kids did a good job. Overall this was a very solid road win.”
The Vikings’ stars certainly shined against the Lumberjacks. Junior outside hitters Jessica Brodie and Jessica Vanzant accumulated 14 kills each, senior setter Stephanie Lavigne distributed a game-high 48 assists and the Viks tallied a cumulative hitting percentage of .347.
Mozzochi said, “Their two main players played very well but we shut down everyone else. Throughout the match we were working on adjustments to improve our squad.”
The Hornets won three games to one, 30-22, 24-30, 30-27 and 30-27. In Mozzochi’s words it was definitely a “winnable” match and the close games reflect that.
Judging by the score and statistics many would believe that the Vikings’ performance on Saturday night was mediocre in comparison to their win against NAU. Not exactly, PSU may have ultimately lost the match and their statistical output may not be as astounding as Thursday’s but they played a quality match. The only difference was they were playing a team with 17 more victories.
“We really had trouble with ball handling being very inconsistent in this aspect. This led to us being more predictable and Sacramento State blocking extremely well,” Mozzochi said.
Jessica Brodie led everyone with 22 kills and added 25 digs. The Viks and Hornets concluded the game with hitting percentages of .148 and .142 respectively. The difference was the disparity in blocks. The Vikings had 10 blocks while the Hornets had 21.
”If we executed a little better then we could have won that match,” Mozzochi said. “In reality this really was a winnable match. The take-home message of this match was if we get a chance to play Sacramento State in the tournament we can beat them at home.”
The Vikings have four games remaining before the conference tournament, including matches against Montana State Friday and Montana Saturday. The only ambiguous aspect remaining is where the tourney will be held. Currently it looks most likely that the Hornets will host the tourney with a two-game lead and only three games left, but anything can happen.
“If we get a chance to play Sacramento State in the tournament we are looking forward to it,” Mozzochi said.