As the Wildcats returned home from a long road trip, they were hoping to accomplish great things in their final two home games of the year. Hosting Portland State University, the top-ranked team in the Big Sky, was a tough test, but the Wildcats walked away accomplishing something that hadn’t happened since 2009.
Even in the four-set loss to the Vikings (25-14, 25-19, 22-25, 25-15), the Wildcats won their first set against them in four years.
Moral victories do not entice prospective athletes, win trophies or put fans in the stands. But head coach Tom Peterson said he was proud of his players for the effort they showed in that third set. The loss dropped the Wildcats to 7-26, 3-16 in conference play.
“Momentum in volleyball is unbelievable,” Peterson said. “That was a very nice team, the best team in our league. They are a team that doesn’t make too many mistakes, but it wasn’t until later that we flustered th
Audrey Biggs, who had nine of her match-high 17 kills in the third set, caught fire; it was as if she was getting the fans ready for the premiere of the new “Hunger Games” movie. At one particular point in the set, one of the Viking players deflected her hit back over the net, where Biggs promptly got into position and blasted the ball past the defenders.
“You just can’t think about the little things, just have to do what I know what to do,” Biggs said, “relying on that habit of taking good, hard swings and not letting blocks or anything get to me. I felt we had a positive attitude in that third set and did a lot better job of keeping calm.”
Peterson said his team figured out a way to get the Vikings uncomfortable, so that they were the ones making mistakes. He said he felt his players did a great job with that in the third set and their ball control allowed them to keep the momentum.
“I felt that we flustered them, as there were times when we were able to out-block them,” Peterson said. “There were moments when we were unstoppable. It is a nice feeling when that happens. That kind of effort will be translated into wins, (but) we are content to just have that happen for just one set.”
Biggs led the Wildcats with 17 kills, six digs and four blocks, but received help from Rebecca Fuchs, who had eight kills, three digs and six blocks. The Wildcats had three players with more than five blocks and combined for a team total of 15. Whitney Hunt accounted for 14 assists, while Samantha Staker chipped 18 of her own. Peterson had nothing but praise for his players after the match, but said one player had a great game.
“Audrey Biggs had another great game,” he said. “You can see how all her hard work is paying off. But McKay Tarbox probably had the most significant role in the match. If we pass, our offense and system are pretty good. We passed better and McKay passed a 2.4, which translates to one of her absolute best matches. The combination of 21 digs and passing was just huge for us.”
The Wildcats took on Eastern Washington University on Saturday to finish their season. That game will be covered in Wednesday’s edition of The Signpost and online at www.wsusignpost.com.