Portland State was matched up with Montana and Montana State this weekend, giving it the chance to defeat the two teams that handed it its first Big Sky losses of the season. The Vikings could only split, beating Montana and losing to Montana State.
On Friday night, the Vikings beat Montana in five suspenseful sets. PSU came out strong against the Grizzlies, scoring six straight in game one for an early 8-4 lead. Montana fought back and took the 1-point advantage midway through the game at 14-13. PSU answered with an 11-point run, sealing its game one victory at 30-20.
The Grizzlies were determined to stay in the game. Montana slowly pulled away from the Vikings in the second set with three 4-point rallies. PSU was never able to gain the upper hand and lost the game 30-22.
Game three was a close one all the way through, though the Vikings retained the lead for the whole set. At one point, the Grizzlies pulled within 1 at 15-14, but were not able to overcome the home team’s determination for a win. The Vikings won game three, 30-24.
Spurred on by its loss in the previous set, Montana came out fighting, scoring the first eight points of game four. PSU never recovered from the early onslaught and lost the crucial game, 22-30.
The Vikings were ready to put an end to the match in game five. They dominated Montana, which was never able to gain the lead. The Vikings eventually took the set, 15-8, avenging their early season loss to the Grizzlies in a hard-fought game.
Before the match, head coach Jeff Mozzochi was confident his team could pull out a win, stressing the importance of teamwork in any victory.
“People have been up and down, and that’s one of the reasons this team has been so inconsistent,” Mozzochi explained. “We don’t have any one player who will win this for us. This has to be a team effort. If everyone steps up their game a little bit, we’re in a position to win.”
Friday night, the Vikings did just that. Richell Wilson led the Viking offense with 23 kills, while Kathy Garbacz and Katie Kost added 15 and 10 more. Stephanie Lavigne helped them out with 49 assists. Defensively, Stacey Ball came through with 14 digs, and Lisa Thomas had 3 blocks.
In the Viks’ last meeting with Montana State, the Bobcats defeated the Vikings three sets to one, a bitter loss for PSU in its Big Sky opener. PSU failed to retaliate this Sunday, losing once again to the Bobcats in four sets (30-19, 25-30, 30-21, 30-25).
The Vikings are now 2-7 in the Big Sky and 7-10 in NCAA scoring matches. Next up, they will take on Western Oregon tonight at the Peter Stott Center at 7 p.m.