PORTLAND, Ore.-- Portland State led 5-1 in the fifth set and held off a North Dakota rally for a 3-2 (24-26, 25-22, 25-10, 24-26, 15-12) win over North Dakota Thursday night. PSU moved into a tie for first place in the Big Sky Conference standings with three matches remaining in the regular season.
"I loved the toughness our group showed battling to win game four and to even the score in game five," UND head coach Ashley Hardee said. "PSU deserves credit for the way they served tonight."
PSU (17-10, 14-3 Big Sky) outhit UND (19-10, 14-3) .225 to .190 and got 13 kills from Aubrey Mitchell, part of three Vikings with double-digit kills totals (Kaeli Patton and Jaklyn Wheeler each had 12).
UND's Anna Pioske (16 kills, 14 digs) and Nikki Husfeldt (45 assists, 15 digs) each recorded double-doubles. Ronni Munkeby chipped in 14 kills and Lisa Parlich had 13 kills and five total blocks.
The first set featured 13 ties and nine lead changes in what was another epic battle between the teams. Neither squad led the first set by more than two points and North Dakota came away with a 26-24 win. Ellen Krueger got UND to set point with a kill and Lexi Robinson and Pioske finished it off with a block of Mitchell for a 1-0 visitors' lead.
In the second frame, PSU grabbed a 5-1 lead and did not allow UND to gain a lead to secure a 25-22 victory for the equalizer in the match.
It was coming out of the intermission that PSU was able to swing the momentum clearly into its favor with a convincing 25-10 win. That set saw the Vikes turn a 9-5 edge into a 20-6 advantage with help from two straight services that touched the tape and fell for aces, part of nine on the night.
UND did not relent, however, battling through another grueling set that had 12 tie scores and six lead changes before the visitors emerged victorious, 26-24, to send the match to a fifth set.
Just as in the previous meeting between the teams, an Oct. 12 UND win at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, it would take a fifth set for the home team to eventually finish off the match. PSU rattled off the first four points of the set and owned an 8-4 cushion at the change. But, North Dakota rallied to tie the score at 11-apiece on a 7-2 run that ended with a Munkeby kill. The Vikings scored four of the final five points to even the season series with the two clubs and tie for first place in the league standings heading into the final three matches.
North Dakota completes its regular season road schedule with a Saturday visit to Eastern Washington. First serve is slated for 8:00 p.m. Central. UND will wrap up the regular season next week at home with a Thursday match against Northern Arizona and the Saturday finale against Southern Utah.
Notes: The teams split the regular season series (1-1) and sets percentage won (.500) so the third tie-breaker is total points between the tied teams. PSU outscored UND by 14 points in the two matches between the schools, so it would own the tie-breaker in deciding seeding for the Big Sky Tournament ... Husfeldt has three double-doubles in the month of November alone (5 matches) ... Pioske's double-double was her sixth of the season, good for second on the team (Lexi Robinson- 3, Lisa Parlich- 1) ... Idaho State and Northern Arizona each won Thursday to remain two games behind (12-5) the Big Sky leaders ... PSU plays Northern Colorado at home Saturday before road matches at Weber State and Idaho State next week.