Oregon Volleyball Kick Starts 2012 Campaign Tonight
The Oregon Ducks volleyball team is coming off of an incredible season that featured a bid in the 2011 Division 1 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament and a No. 13 ranking. Unfortunately for the Ducks, they were bounced from the first round of the playoffs by Colorado State after coming in as favorites.
The team, maybe the strongest in program history as the team did not lose a single senior to graduation. Oregon’s roster is loaded and abundant with seniors. Expectations are flying high with the Ducks, and fans are ready for a deep postseason run. Also returning is head coach Jim Moore, ready for his 10th season with the program and looks to increase his streak of four straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Oregon has been voted fourth in the preseason Pac-12 Conference Volleyball Coaches’ Poll, with 91 total points. The UCLA Bruins enter at No. 1, followed closely by the Stanford Cardinal at No. 3 (109) and the USC Trojans at No. 3 (96). Only UCLA and Stanford received first place votes.
The Ducks have never been voted No. 1 in the Pac-12 preseason conference rankings, and have been ranked No. 6 the previous four seasons. The No. 4 ranking ties the highest ever preseason conference ranking in program history.
But to put in to context what this means nationally, no conference dominates a sport like the Pac-12 does Women’s D-1 Volleyball. Being fourth in the conference may mean fifth or sixth nationally.
A Pac-10/12 conference representative has either finished first or second 23 of 31 years, five teams with both teams being from the conference in the championship game. Even with Penn State’s dominance of late (four straight championships from 2007-2010), the Pac-12 has won 14 national titles.
Coach Moore has revitalized the program and has them competitive once again. Oregon ranked either tenth or ninth each preseason from 1993-2005 (during the Pac-10 era) and has since become a top-15 program nationally. The Ducks have a new arena, and aura about them that reads “winners.” No team embodies a winning attitude quite like Oregon. A lot of that can be accredited to Moore.
Stars Alaina Bergsma and Lauren Plum return in what is likely the best outside hitter/setter combo in Pac-12 volleyball. Both are All-Pac-12 representatives and Bergsma being an All-American. Despite not losing a senior to graduation, the Ducks welcome on a strong signing class that features five future Ducks.
“The Ducks welcome a five-person freshman group composed of Italian product and middle blocker Clelia DeFelice, prep All-America outside hitter Martenne Bettendorf, Senior Ace middle blocker Canace Finley, Senior Ace 150 outside hitter Madison Magee and All-CIF libero Tatum Norton,” according to GoDucks.com. “Oregon also adds one transfer in senior outside hitter Bethany (Wray) Bair – a two-time All-Big Sky honorable mention for Weber State in 2010 and ’11.”
Oregon features two exhibition games this summer, the first tonight at 7pm at Matthew Knight Arena. The Green-Yellow Exhibition Game is an intra-squad game and will be open to media and fans. The 15-person Oregon roster will be split into two groups and played in a best-of-five-set format.
Oregon’s regular season kicks off August 24th-25th against Toledo in the “Sports Import Classic” against Toledo in Columbus, OH. The Ducks then play in the “Ohio University Tournament from August 31st – September 2nd. Oregon will play a total of six road games before returning to Eugene to play UC Santa Barbara at home.
A total of 11 Oregon volleyball games will be played on the Pac-12 Networks.