In the first round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC) tournament, the Portland Pilots volleyball team defeated the Northern Colorado Bears in straight sets, 3-0.
From the start of the first set, the Pilots went point for point with the Bears. Senior Katie Barker led the attack with her fast-paced offense and her strong middle blocking. Portland won the first set, 25-19.
“The University of Northern Colorado is a really good volleyball team and challenged us a lot,” head coach Jeff Baxter said. “It was fun to see the players connect after positive plays and negative plays as well.”
In the second set, the Pilots started out strong with aggressive serves and strong hits and established an early lead that carried out to the end of the game. For most of this set, the Pilots had at least a four point lead.
Senior outside hitter Reghan Pukis made key plays in this set, scoring points off of short tips and roll shots, along with her strong blocks from the left side. Portland won the second set, 25-15.
The Pilots carried this energy on to the third set and established an early lead. Junior setter Cali Thompson’s plays gave golden opportunities to each position to dominate offensively.
“I think we had a good balance of our offense,” Baxter said. “It was a good team offensive win.”
Junior middle blocker Shayla Hoeft finished off the third set win by killing a shanked overpass from the Bears, giving the set to the Pilots 25-18.
“I don’t think any of us were ready to be done,” Baxter said of the tournament. “The team is looking forward to play with and for each other at least for one more match.”
The Pilots next game is Nov. 30 against Utah Valley at 5:30 p.m. PST in Wyoming.
Morgan Wahler is a sports reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at email@example.com.