Volleyball takes down Utah Valley 3-2 to advance to Elite Eight of NIVC

By Morgan Wahler | December 2, 2018 11:31am
Liz Reich and Katie Barker go for the block in a game against St. Mary's.
Media Credit: Jeff Braccia / The Beacon

After sweeping Northern Colorado in the first round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship yesterday, the Portland Pilots volleyball team beat the Utah Valley Wolverines, 3-2, in the second round of the tournament. 

This is the first time the Pilots have ever made it into postseason play, after finishing the regular season 18-12, their best record ever.

Portland won the first set 25-19. The team came out with a fire for the win with the first kill and played an aggressive offense.

The big physical Pilot block, led by senior middle Katie Barker and sophomore opposite Liz Reich, led the set win. The scrappy defense kept the ball in a good position for junior setter Cali Thompson to make some big plays. 

The Pilots had a slow start to the second, allowing the Wolverines to secure a strong, early lead that the team couldn’t overcome, and they lost 16-25.

The team made more hitting and serving errors in the second set than the first. A vast majority of the Wolverines’ points came from Pilot errors. Utah Valley stepped it up offensively and swung more aggressively.

The third set started off with a big rally, and the Pilots got the first two points. Both teams went point-for-point right from the get go. Reich’s hits and blocks were key in helping the team.

Portland was able to surpass Utah Valley to win the third, 29-27. The team’s blocks and scrappiness gave them the upper hand in the last five points of the set. 

The Pilots came out strong in the fourth, swinging the team’s typical strong, deep swings. Utah Valley got an early lead on Portland that carried late into the game. 

The team was able to catch up from a nine point deficit with help from sophomore outside hitter Kassidy Naone’s hits and deep float serves. Even after the Pilots caught up they lost, 27-29.

The Wolverines came into the final set earning the first six points, preventing the Pilots from scoring. Barker’s strong blocks at the net earn the team four points and they catch up quickly to Utah Valley. Portland won 19-17 after battling neck-and-neck for points.

Portland will play University of Nevada Las Vegas in round three of the tournament, the “Elite Eight,” on Thursday December 6 at 7 p.m. in Portland. 

Morgan Wahler is a sports reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at wahler20@up.edu.