November 16, 2013

Volleyball team falls to Vikings in straight sets

By PARKER COTTON

UNCBears.com

PORTLAND, Ore. – With all matches being 'must-wins' these days, a 3-0 loss to Portland State Saturday doesn't help the Northern Colorado volleyball team in terms of standings or momentum.

The loss puts the Bears at 8-10 in Big Sky Conference play and a win behind Sacramento State, which defeated Weber State 3-0 Saturday to remain in sixth place.

With two matches remaining, head coach Lyndsey Oates said this was not the performance she expected.

"I just don't think we were ourselves tonight," she said. "We didn't play with a reckless abandon that we needed to against a good Portland State team. We will regroup and get ready for next week. I wish we played with a little more courage tonight. We looked passive and tight and that's not going to work this late in the season."

Portland State (18-10, 15-3) won by set scores of 25-19, 25-19, 25-23 and saw senior outside hitter Kaeli Patton record 19 kills while hitting .500 with just two attack errors. Fellow senior outside hitter Jaklyn Wheeler had 12 kills for a Vikings team that hit .244 collectively.

Northern Colorado was led offensively by junior middle blocker Brianna Strong (Mount Vernon, Iowa), who had 14 kills while hitting .476 with just four errors. Nobody else had more than six kills for the Bears, though.

"Obviously Bri Strong had a good night offensively — they certainly had a hard time defending her — but we certainly had a hard time defending their left side, so that was the story of the match, and us not getting offensive distribution," Oates said.

Freshman setter Ashley Guthrie (Saugus, Calif.) was held to 26 assists, her lowest total in the last 20 matches, and senior libero Merideth Johnson (Fort Collins, Colo.) tied a match-high with 14 digs.

Junior middle blocker Andrea Spaustat (Omaha, Neb.) was limited to two kills but had six total blocks, including two solos, and senior outside hitter Alyssa Wilson (Clinton, Okla.) had six kills and added three total blocks of her own.

The Bears return home for their final regular season matches of the season, beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday against Southern Utah at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.