PORTLAND, Ore.-- Host Portland State gave North Dakota a second straight loss for the first time this season, defeating the Fighting Hawks, 3-1, Saturday evening in Big Sky Conference play.
Junior Jordan Vail paced the Fighting Hawks with 14 kills while Faith Dooley added 13 and Ashley Brueggeman chipped in a dozen. Sydney Griffin recorded 45 assists, eight digs and five kills.
"So for this weekend, a total of seven points separates us from 2-0 and 0-2. It's just that simple," UND head coach Mark Pryor said. "We lost 15-12 at Sacramento State in the fifth and then a 25-23 and 26-24 losses tonight. That's just really tough to deal with, and I find it hard to accept. Seven points separates us from first place in the Big Sky to currently fourth. That's how close we are to being great, but we have to own it. It's been a humbling weekend for all of us.
"Our inconsistency with being competitive for longer stretches is what cost us this weekend. So seven points-- that's pretty brutal. I know we can be better, and the team has promised themselves that they will."
It was a tough start for UND (19-4, 4-2 Big Sky) as Portland State took the opener, 25-17. The Vikings outhit the Fighting Hawks .220 to .059 on the way taking the lead.
PSU (14-4, 5-1) used that momentum to score the first seven points of the second set. North Dakota was forced to play catchup the rest of that frame, using a 7-2 run to get it back within two points midway through and eventually re-tied the score at 21-all. The Viks were able to close out the set, 25-23, to head to intermission with a 2-0 lead in the match.
UND responded in the third, winning 25-18 by hitting .395. After Vail had finished the second set with seven kills, Dooley etched seven of her own in that third stanza as North Dakota mounted a rally.
A back-and-forth set ensued in the fourth as 10 tie scores and three lead changes dotted the box score. A key stretch came when PSU turned a 12-11 deficit into a 17-13 lead. That lead was maintained at 23-19 when UND rallied. Four Tamara Merseli kills over the next six points not only staved off three match points, but tied the score at 24-all. Caitlin Bettenay got a huge sideout for the Vikings with her match-high 21st kill and Portland State escaped with a 26-24 victory.
North Dakota will continue its schedule on the road next weekend, heading to Montana State and Montana on Friday and Saturday, respectively.