Vikings end their first weekend on the road since 2017 with a 3-0 win over eastern Washington
CHENEY, Washington – Thursday night marked the Portland State volleyball team’s best hitting performance in five years. Friday night marked the completion of the Vikings’ first Big Sky weekend sweep in four years.
So it’s fair to say that this is the best Viking team the Park Blocks have seen in a few years.
The Vikings completed their first road sweep since 2017 with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-19, 25-17) sweep from Eastern Washington on Friday at Reese Court. The sweep follows a 3-0 win over Idaho on Thursday, meaning the Vikings haven’t lost a set to either the Eagles or the Vandals this weekend. The sweep of the road also means the Vikings will return home 3-1 in Big Sky, with eight of their last 12 conference games at home.
“It was a full team effort, prepared for this weekend, and it paid off with a sweep of the road,” Portland State head coach Michael seemann said afterwards.
Friday marked a unique challenge for the Vikings (9-6, 3-1 Big Sky) as they played the second night of a rare back-to-back. The team’s game against the Eagles (5-7, 1-3 Big Sky) came just 24 hours after the Vikings ‘game against the Vandals, reducing the Vikings’ usual turnaround by a full day.
There were signs of a quick turnaround in the first set as the Vikings didn’t show the same efficiency they did against Idaho on Thursday. The Vikings only hit 0.128 in the opening set, while Parker Webb had a very unusual set individually with four attack errors. All of this helped the Eagles take a 17-11 lead.
But those who have followed the Vikings this season – and their four comeback wins after losing the first set – knew they were capable of turning the tide. Indeed, they did.
A big reversal came in favor of the Vikings shortly after their second timeout of the set, led 17-11. The challenge turned what would have been an 18-12 lead for the Eagles to a 17-13 score, and the Vikings followed with a Webb kill and an EWU attack error to come close to two at 17- 15. The Eagles regained a four-point lead at 19-15, but back-to-back blocks involving Genevieve Florig, Maddy Reeb and Makayla lewis saw the Vikings tie the set a few points later at 21-all.
The Vikings still didn’t take the lead until an EWU attacking error gave them a set point at 24-23. It was only the third lead of the set for the Vikings, but it was all they needed as Webb finished the comeback with a kill to close the set.
“We found our rhythm late in the first set,” Seemann said of his team’s late return. “We knew what we had to do to earn points, but we weren’t performing to our potential.
“We’re playing with confidence right now, so no lull sets the scene or how we’re approaching points.”
The Vikings exploited their potential more in the second and third sets. After seven attacking errors in the opening frame, the Vikings reduced that to five while hitting .233 in the second set. Webb and Reeb both had tough first sets with near-perfect right-sided strikes. Both players finished with four kills in the middle of the set, with Reeb hitting 1,000, while Webb hitting .800. The pair faced off again in the third set, registering three kills each, with Webb hitting 0.750 and Reeb reaching 0.375.
Webb and Lewis both managed three kills in a 12-2 run midway through the second set, which gave the Vikings complete control. Lewis took the lead early in the race, as the Vikings broke a 7-7 tie with five straight runs, the last two coming off of killing Lewis. Webb then took the lead in the second half of the race as she landed back-to-back kills that took her to 18-9.
Webb and Florig had two kills each in a 5-0 streak in the third set, which gave the Vikings the lead in earnest. Florig’s second victory made it 11-7, and the Vikings extended that lead to 21-12 with a 10-2 run later. The defense led the Vikings in the final set, as they forced the Eagles to make four offense errors while taking their big lead.
Overall, the Vikings’ defense held the Eagles at 0.085 on Friday, the second time this season the Vikings have held an opponent below 0.100. Additionally, the Vikings limited the Eagles to just nine wins in each set, as they beat Eastern Washington 40-27.
Ellie Snook led the Viking defense with 18 digs against the Eagles. Snook had a rare single-digit dig performance on Thursday, as the Vikings’ effectiveness shortened points and limited his opportunities. Snook returned to double digits on Friday, however, and remains well ahead of any other Big Sky player with 5.35 digs per set this season.
Florig led the Vikings to the net as she tied her tally on Thursday with four blocks in just three sets.
Offensively, Lewis led the Vikings with 11 kills on 0.280 kills, the sixth straight game in which she had at least 10 kills for the Vikings. Webb did not register another error after the first set while finishing with 10 kills on .316. Reeb finished with eight kills on .438, capping a solid weekend for her, having managed 10 kills on .529 against Idaho.
The Vikings are now returning home for a homestand against southern Utah and northern Arizona next weekend. The Vikings open the weekend against Southern Utah on Thursday, before hosting NAU on Saturday. Both matches start at 7 p.m.
Correspondence Notes: The Vikings improved to 33-29 against the Eagles after Friday’s win… The Vikings’ last Big Sky sweep was also against Idaho and Eastern Washington in 2017…Morgan halady came in late in the third set of Friday’s game for her first appearance of the season… The Vikings played a 6-2 again on Friday, having played it since the start of Thursday’s game…Ally Wada finished with 18 assists, while the first Teniyah Leuluai totaled 12.