PORTLAND – Freshman OH Eva Linden‘s match-high 17 kills propelled the Vikings to a three-set sweep of North Dakota Thursday night at the Peter W. Stott Center.
“We took very gutsy, calculated swings, out of system tonight, something we haven’t done in the past,” ninth-year Head Coach Michael Seemann said following the match. “They took some swings that kept us in play and some that rattled through blocks, which is something we’ve talked about. We kept our nerve tonight.”
Linden got off to a hot start with six kills in the first set hitting .417 for the frame. She added seven kills in the second, hitting .429, before finishing out the match with four kills in the final stanza for her 11th double-digit kill performance of the season.
Sophomore MB Sarah Liva matched her career high, for the third time this season, with nine kills in the match. Liva went 9-for-14 with no attacking errors to hit .643 for the match. She also added four blocking assists.
Freshman OH Jenna Mullen added nine kills while junior OH Pati Anae tallied seven kills and 10 digs. Freshman MB Katy Wilson recorded three kills and two of the Vikings’ five aces in the match. Wilson added a team-high five blocks, two solo and three assists. Sophomore S Erin Clark added her 10th-career double-double with 23 kills and 13 digs in the match.
Portland State jumped out to an early lead in the first set going up 3-1. The Vikings maintained their lead before North Dakota tied it at 11-11. The lead bounced back and forth as the set progressed. With the set tied at 24-24, Anae picked up her fourth kill of the set to put the Vikings up 25-24. Wilson and Linden combined for a block to give the Vikings the opening set win.
The Vikings went down 20-17 late in the second set before calling a timeout. The Vikings scored four-straight points to take a 21-20 lead. The teams traded points before the Vikings went up 24-22 on another Linden kill. After a UND point, Linden came back with yet another kill to give the Vikings the 25-23 win in the second to go up 2-0 in the match.
North Dakota came out of the intermission with a purpose and quickly went up 6-1. UND increased its lead to 11-4 before the Vikings started chipping away at the deficit. The Vikings pulled within two points at 21-19 before UND went on a small run to go up 23-19, forcing a Portland State timeout.
After the timeout, UND served the ball into the net sending Mullen to the service line. She started off with an ace to bring the Vikings within two at 23-21. The Vikings score two-straight to tie the set for the first time at 23-23.
North Dakota took the lead at 24-23 on a Portland State attacking error before Liva tied the set with her ninth kill of the match. Linden gave the Vikings the 25-24 lead with her final kill of the match before the Vikings ended the set with a block for the second time in the match. Linden and Wilson combined for the stuff to give the Vikings the three-set sweep of UND.
North Dakota out-blocked Portland State in the match, 13-to-10, but the Vikings came up with the big block when they needed it. Portland State outhit North Dakota in the match, .207-to-.202. It was the Vikings best hitting mark in conference play.
“This team needs confidence, and they got it,” Seemann added. “What better way to send us off tomorrow than with a win.”
Portland State improved to 6-13 overall and 2-5 in Big Sky Conference play with the win while North Dakota fell to 16-8 and 4-3.
The Vikings hit the road for a Saturday matchup with the Sacramento State Hornets. Sacramento State defeated Northern Colorado, 3-1, Thursday night. Saturday’s match is slated for a 7 p.m. start and can be seen live online at WatchBigSky.com and on GoViks.com.
NOTES: Erin Clark posted her 10th-career double-double … Eva Linden led the Vikings in kills for the ninth time this season … Linden posted her her 11th double-digit kill performance of the season … Portland State outhit its opponent for the first time in conference play.