CORVALLIS, Ore. — Portland State head volleyball coach Michael Seemann reminded his team before its road match against Oregon State that they were 0-3 in true road matches this season.
If he were to tell that same stat to anyone after watching Thursday night’s match at Gill Coliseum, they would likely call him a liar to his face. Such was the dominance the Vikings (6-4) showed in a 3-0 road win (25-18, 25-13, 25-17) over the Beavers.
The victory marked the Vikings’ first road win over the Beavers (5-4) since 1986, as well as their first road sweep of the Beavers since 1980. Additionally, it gave the Vikings two wins over Pac-12 programs this season, as they also beat Utah at home on Sept. 5.
“I used the fact that we had not beaten a team in their own gym yet as motivation. We certainly made up for that this evening,” Seemann said after the match.
The Vikings’ dominance carried across every stat category. The Vikings outhit the Beavers .315-to-.090, out-killed them 40-to-28, out-aced them 7-to-2, out-dug them 34-to-30, and out-blocked them 9.0-to-5.0.
Take your pick as to which facet of the game was most impressive for the Vikings. Every attacker who recorded a kill in the match for the Vikings hit at least .250. Five Vikings hit over .300, including Sophia Meyers who led all players with 17 kills on .317 hitting. At the same time, the Vikings recorded seven aces, four of which came from freshman Paige Stepaniuk, who made her return after missing the team’s last three matches with a concussion. And at the net, the Vikings tied their season high with nine blocks in only three sets Thursday, with six different players contributing at least two blocks individually.
“Blocking has been a priority in our training, and while we have a lot of room to grow, we influenced their offense early in sets,” Seemann said of the team’s play at the net.
Similar to the team’s win over Utah, the Vikings seized control of the match after both teams came out a little sloppy early on. When it was 9-all in the first set, there had only been four combined kills from both teams to that point. But the Vikings found their groove from there and never let the Beavers back in it.
After a 10-all tie in the first, the Vikings won nine of 10 points to go up 19-11. Meyers recorded four kills during that stretch, though her most dominant showing would come later in the second set. The Beavers used a 7-2 run to get back within three, but Gabby Hollins snapped that with back-to-back kills and the Vikings closed out the opening set with four straight points.
The middle frame proved to be the Vikings’ most dominant showing of the night. They recorded 16 kills on .577 hitting for their best offensive set of the season to date. Meyers recorded eight of her match-high 17 kills in the second set, with all eight of those coming during the middle part of the frame as the Vikings turned a 9-6 early advantage into a 22-11 runaway lead.
The Vikings again seized control early in the third set, going up 13-6 midway through the frame. Stepaniuk came up clutch on back-to-back points for the Vikings during that early part of the set. With the Beavers serving down 10-6, Stepaniuk dove to keep a serve off the ground and set up Ashleigh Barto for a kill. She then followed with an ace, her third of the match at that point, to give the Vikings a 12-6 lead.
The Beavers mustered a mini comeback later that got them back within five at 19-14, but Hollins snapped that with a kill. A Meyers kill followed by another Stepaniuk ace then made it 23-16 a few points later, and the Vikings would close it out with back-to-back kills from Lauryn Anderson and Devon DeNecochea.
Meyers now has two dominant showings in 3-0 sweeps this season. Besides her 17 kills against the Beavers Thursday, she also recorded 20 kills against Southern Utah on Sept. 1. That was the most kills by a Viking in a three-set match since 2010, and yet she nearly matched it Thursday.
Outside of Meyers, Hollins finished with nine kills on .375 hitting. Barto and Anderson gave the Vikings four and three kills out of the middle, respectively, while both hit over .500. Jasmine Powell also had five kills on .250 hitting, while DeNecochea, just a freshman, put down two kills on her only two attempts of the night.
Ella Hartford and Madison Friebel orchestrated the offense for the Vikings, recording 19 and 13 assists, respectively. Stepaniuk added six assists of her own as she filled the stat sheet with 10 digs, six assists and four aces.
At the net, Barto led the Vikings with four blocks while Anderson had three. Powell, Meyers, Hollins and Delaney Nicoll all added two each.
The Vikings can make it back-to-back wins over the Beavers – and three wins over the Pac-12 – Saturday, as the teams travel back up to Portland for the back end of their home-and-home series. The Vikings will host the Beavers at Viking Pavilion at 7 p.m.
Seemann won’t have the winless road record to motivate his team Saturday. But if the Vikings play like they did Thursday, they won’t need it.
Match Notes: The Vikings improved to 34-11 all time against the Beavers…They’ve won two in a row against the Beavers now, as the Vikings also topped Oregon State 3-1 on Aug. 27 last season…Last year’s win over the Beavers was the Vikings’ first over their in-state rivals since 1990.