Ducks Notch Thirteenth Straight Win of the Season against Buffaloes

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Oregon middle blocker #15 Clelia DeFelice successfully blocks an attack by Colorado #15 Nikki Lindow during the third set (Matthew Heuett/Eugene Daily News)
Oregon middle blocker #15 Clelia DeFelice successfully blocks an attack by Colorado #15 Nikki Lindow during the third set (Matthew Heuett/Eugene Daily News)

Normally, it would be enough to say that the Oregon Ducks’ volleyball team swept the Colorado Buffaloes. However, when you follow a team that has racked up as many sweeps as Oregon has this season – 11 and counting – you begin to realize that not all sweeps are created equal.

Sometimes, like in the Ducks’ victory against St. Mary’s, a sweep is the result of three closely-fought sets in which the margin of victory could hardly be said to exist at all.

And on other occasions, as in the Ducks’ pounding of Colorado, a sweep is the product of pure, undiluted dominance.

Oregon registered eight aces in the game, which is stunning all by itself, but compared to some of the other games Jim Moore’s team has played this season the rest of their stats for the game aren’t anything special. Outside hitters Alaina Bergsma and Liz Brenner earned 10+ kills, setter Lauren Plum racked up her usual 30+ assists (three of those eight aces were also hers), and Bergsma, Brenner, and middle blocker Ariana Williams all posted hitting percentages in excess of .300. Likewise, the final scores for the sets, 25-11, 25-19, and 25-16, were impressive, but not unusual for this team.

It’s when you take a glance at Colorado’s stats that you begin to realize just how lopsided the game really was. For starters, the Buffaloes’ leading scorer for the game, Nikki Lindow, tallied just five kills, and she was also the only player on the team to end the game with a positive hitting percentage. As a team, Colorado’s hitting percentage was a subterranean -.025, and at no time in any set did they hold a lead over the Ducks.

This wasn’t a case of a team beating up on a particularly weak team, either. Even with the loss to Oregon, Colorado is 11-4 on the season, and watching the game it was hard not to notice the talent level of the losing team. In particular, libero Chelsey Keoho kept several volleys alive through her great positioning and pancake digs, and outside hitters Alexis Austin and Neira Ortiz Ruiz forced Oregon’s defensive players to work harder than usual to deflect their attacks. But as many digs and blocks as the Buffaloes could muster, the Ducks always seemed to come up with just one more to come out on top in volley after volley.

Oregon outside hitter #6 Liz Brenner elevates for an attack during the second set. On the other side of the net, Colorado middle blocker #15 Nikki Lindow prepares to block (Matthew Heuett/Eugene Daily News)

Really, the only thing that kept the scores that close were the mistakes Oregon couldn’t stop itself from committing. Midway through the second set, the Ducks led 16-8, with seven of their opponent’s points gifted to them via errors.

“It was just [us] being aggressive, a bunch of them were missed serves,” Moore said after the game. “I thought we were serving tough and they went after it, and you’re going to miss some serves going after ‘em . . . you’re going to miss some serves when you get that many aces.”

We didn’t play to the best of our abilities,” said Williams about her teams’ errors. “I don’t think we’ve played to the best of our abilities yet this year, so you guys have a lot to look forward to.”

Next up, the No. 2 Ducks will be looking forward to two road games against Pac-12 rivals. First up is California on Wednesday, followed by No. 7 Stanford on Friday. Afterwards, the Ducks will return home to Matthew Knight Arena for another set of back-to-back home games against conference opponents, starting with Washington State on the 12th at 6:00, followed by No. 5 Washington on the 13th at 7:00.

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