Friday, December 5, 2008

Swept away in Seattle

After a promising season, the Vikings volleyball season has ended after a 3-0 sweep at the hands of a talented and physical Washington team.

Check out for the story.

Huskies dominate first two sets

I ran into Portland State athletic director Torre Chisholm, a man with a bit of volleyball experience, in the media room before the match. He told me that the key for the Vikings would be to keep it close and try to put some pressure on the home squad.

Well after two sets, the Vikings definitely are not following Chisholm's advice. Washington completely controlled Portland State in the first set, 25-11 and just wrapped up set two, 25-15.

The Huskies look focused, motivated, well coached and very talented. You can imagine the size advantage that they have going against the Vikings, particularly some of the smaller Portland State players like Marija Vojnovic.

During that first set annihilation, the Huskies overpowered the Vikings with strong serving and a .500 hitting percentage. Set two, Portland State was able to combat the attack slightly, limiting the Huskies to a hitting percentage of .179.

The Vikings are not helping their own cause either, hitting .062 for the match and making uncharacteristic mistakes with the spotlight on.

For the most part, it has looked as if only two Portland State players are even close to being on the same level as this talented and large Washington team: junior setter Nique Fradella and senior libero Jalen Pendon-Thomas.

High Drama at Hec Ed Pavillion

I know its only volleyball and this match--Santa Clara against Kansas State--does not involve Portland State but this is intense.

The Broncos took the first two sets but Kansas State has battled back. In the fifth and deciding game it looks like Santa Clara will take the game, they are up 14-12. But both teams are battling back and forth. The pressure of single elimination is something that teams do not have to battle against every day.

Santa Clara just took it, 15-13 to advance to face either PSU or Washington tomorrow.

About the Huskies

While I had a few minutes before the game, and seeing as how Kansas State just took game three, only delaying the start of the Portland State game to likely 4:30 or so, I thought I would give a little scouting report on the Huskies.

I was surprised to see that the Huskies only feature six players on their 14 person roster from the state of Washington. Four of those are freshmen and will likely not see too much time today. Junior defensive specialist Megan McAfee played her high school volleyball at West Linn High school and is the only Oregonian on the Washington team.

The Huskies finished in second place in the solid PAC-10 Conference to Stanford, despite winning 13 of their last 14 games. The one loss came of course to the Cardinal. That loss, on October 31, was the Huskies last. Washington was picked to finish fifth in the PAC-10.

If I were to list all the talented players on their roster... let's just say it would take a while. Their big three are senior middle Jessica Swarbrick, junior libero Tamari Miyashiro and sophomore outside hitter Becky Perry.

Of course, you could say that Portland State has their share of talented players on the roster as well.

As good as the Huskies are and have been, if Portland State does not allow the magnitude of the game to disrupt them they could easily hang with the Huskies.

With that said, it may be tough for head coach Michael Seemann to keep the troops focused today. There are already more fans here than I have ever seen at the Stott Center for a game, the Husky Band is getting ready to play, and oh yeah, this is the Vikings first ever trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Bank of America Arena

Well its certainly not Omaha, and that can be a good or bad thing, but the Vanguard is here in Seattle at Bank of America Arena on the campus of the University of Washington.

It could be a good day to be a Husky. Earlier today the entire nation reported that USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will be the new head coach of the Husky football team. Good hire, we say. Sarkisian is the total opposite of Ty Willingham.

Outside of the Oregon schools, Washington probably holds the fondest spot in my heart. My father went here, I grew up in nearby Puyallup, and this is still a pretty unique school.

In waiting for the Portland State game to start in about an hour I did a bit of walking around the arena. It's certainly not overwhelmingly gigantic but very nice and professional.

Comparing the two schools competing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament would be like comparing a whale to a shrimp. The Huskies won a National Championship in 2005 and have been a national powerhouse for the last seven years.

Viking fans are hoping that the difference in the two squads stops at the facilities and successful history.

One thing that will likely work against the Vikings during this game is the fact that Washington was upset in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament, played at this very arena, by BYU.

Sometimes teams playing as heavy favorites that have the stinging taste of upset in their mouth are less likely to struggle in the same situations.

Nevertheless, the game will go on and win or lose this is a big step in the right direction for this program and for Portland State.

Currently the Santa Clara Broncos are having their way against Big VII foe Kansas State. Santa Clara has taken the first two sets.