Pilots impress in WCC home opener

By Molly McSweyn | September 29, 2016 10:39pm
by Kristen Garcia / The Beacon

It was no contest in the Chiles Center on Thursday night. The Portland Pilots volleyball team out-passed and outplayed the San Francisco’s Dons, earning a win in three straight sets in their WCC home opener.

The Pilots improve to 9-6 on the season and 2-1 in WCC play. The Dons have yet to notch a conference win.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Portland Pilots volleyball squad was in the Dons’ shoes. Just three years ago the team struggled to complete passes and compete, causing them to lose every game of the season.

“I think we have a lot more confidence, not only in our ability to win but we just know that we are a lot more confident in our skillset,” senior Katie Sullivan said. “(Head coach) Brent (Crouch) has been teaching us a lot of skills and I think that is why we are taking the court and just doing what we need to do.”

Both teams struggled to get a rhythm early in the first set but after a couple of points and a crucial block by Sullivan and sophomore Sarah Savoca, the Pilots began to pull ahead. The Dons fought back within four but Portland was able to muscle them out of the running and take the first set.

Portland was rolling heading into the second set, jumping to an early 8-1 lead. They were relentless, capitalizing on the Don’s overpassing and poor serve receive. Portland took the set 25-8.

The Dons hung around until late in the third set. Leading 18-17, the Pilots took charge and made a late run, outscoring San Francisco 7-1. Sophomore Hannah Troutman made the final kill to win the final set 25-18 and claim the match.

“I want us to start off strong,” Troutman said. “We came off really strong this game. In the past games we haven't really started off strong, we have ended strong and so coming into Santa Clara on Saturday, just starting off strong and finishing all the way through.”

Crouch said he was pleased with the level of competitiveness he saw from his team.

“I think that we are good enough to compete with anyone in our league,” coach Brent Crouch said. “I also think our league is good enough that we could lose every game. But we are definitely good enough now that when we are playing the way we know how to play and executing at a good level then we could compete with anyone in our league, including the top 25 teams so i'm excited about that.”

The game was the first to be broadcast on Comcast Sportsnet Northwest. The Portland Pilots next game is this Saturday, October 1st at 1pm. They will play Santa Clara in the Chiles Center.