Both men's soccer and women's volleyball face critical road trips this weekend.
The men travel to Portland to face the University of Portland. Portland is 3-9-2 so this looks like a 'W'... Well, not so fast. Portland's last home game was against Gonzaga, a team that played the Pios tough in Denver when Denver emerging with a hard fought 2-1 win. Portland lost to the Zags 2-1 in overtime in their most recent home game. After a disappointing season, nothing would be a bigger lift for the Pilots than to take down a 'top ten' team on their home turf. The Pioneers will have to put their stamp on the Pilots early or it could be a long night. The Pioneers are going to have to prove their #7 ranking with a road game win against a team they should beat in Portland. Winning on the road is always going to be difficult and the Pios are now a target.
The women's volleyball team goes on the road for back-to-back matches in two days.
They travel to South Dakota State on the 23rd and University of Nebraska - Omaha on the 24th. The Jackrabbits are 3-21 but will hold home court. A win against the Pioneers would make their season. The Pio's blasted them in Denver (0-3) 25-16, 25-23, 25-15. Jessie Mahoney will need to make sure they do not overlook this game for the next night's contest against UNO. After game one, DU leaves Brookings and travels to Omaha. This looks like a much tougher match. While UNO is 10-11 for the season, they are 5-3 in the Summit League. A win would move them within a game of the Pioneers in the regular season standings with a real chance to challenge DU for the regular season title. They will be locked and loaded for DU. UNO plays north Dakota State the night before so the match is coming on short rest for both teams.
This is a huge weekend for both Pioneer teams. The men's soccer team can post a road win, always a tough challenge, and at the same time maintain their national ranking. The women's volleyball team, coming off a road loss at North Dakota State, has a chance to regain their momentum on the road and put their stamp on the Summit League regular season.
The stakes increase the final quarter of the season for both league leading squads. They can reaffirm national rankings and signal their respective leagues that there will be no let-up.