Pilots fall to BYU 3-0 in last home game
In their last home game of the year, the young Portland Pilots fell to no. 8 BYU in a game that was much closer than the 0-3 score indicated.
“We knew going into the season that we’re really young,” junior outside hitter Reghan Pukis said. “We still are struggling with consistency a little bit. As you saw we were just really up and down.”
The Pilots looked asleep in the first 10 points of the game, with the Cougars showing why they are ranked eighth in the nation through a series of quick and merciless rallies. The Pilots dropped the first set 25-13.
The Pilots came out swinging hard after the first set, amassing a 13-8 lead at one point against their nationally ranked opponents. Pukis was one of several older players who catalyzed the comeback, alongside fellow outside hitter and senior Hannah Troutman. Both players had a number of vicious kills that roused the crowd and got the Pilots back in the game.
Today’s match was senior night for the Pilots’ three remaining seniors this year: Hannah Troutman, Morgan Robinson and Sarah Savoca. While these three veterans remained troublesome for the Cougars and steady for the Pilots throughout the match, the rest of UP’s lineup struggled with consistency. Despite the team’s valiant effort in the final two sets, the Pilot’s were unable to find an answer for BYU’s offense and ended up losing the last two sets 25-20 each.
“Our seniors are great, and they have been here in the whole process of turning Portland volleyball around,” stated Pukis, who was one of the veterans that came alive for the Pilots later in the match.
“As we have more years on the team, our consistency level is gonna rise and that’s something to look forward too,” stated Savocca, who was immensely proud of her team’s performance in her final game at The Chiles Center. “The group of girls that are on the court right now are so hard working and it’s really gonna pay off in the end.”
While losing to BYU is never an easy thing to stomach for Pilots players or fans, today’s performance was nothing to be ashamed of as UP proved its ability to hang with top ranked opponents. Today’s loss may have marked the end of UP’s season this year, but its seniors remain optimistic about the future of this program.
“I think it’s been a team effort of just really involving people and involving everyone in leadership this year,” Troutman said about the development of this young Portland side, before offering some insight into what the future holds for The Pilots. “I can’t even imagine; they’re gonna be so incredible. We have all the talent in the world.”
“My senior year has just been more than I can ask for all my teammates and all the support that I’ve had,” said Savoca when recounting this year’s season. “It’s definitely bittersweet but I know the girls are gonna kill it next year.