Matthew Knight Arena was packed with an attendance of 3,038 Friday night as the No. 5 Ducks took on Northern Colorado, the winner of the Big Sky Conference in the first round of NCAA tournament play. This was the first time since 1986 that Eugene has hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, and there was no shortage of excitement and pride.
Favored in this matchup, the Ducks were simply looking to come away with the win and that they did as they defeated Northern Colorado in straight sets. For the Ducks it was a night of balance and teamwork as they had points from a wide array of players.
Leading the way for the Ducks once again was Alaina Bergsma as she finished with a team high 15 kills.
“We were too reliant on Alaina,” Moore said after the game. “I would like to distribute that a little more.”
The Ducks were very balanced in their scoring tonight and it simply proved to be too much for Northern Colorado as they could not stop the dynamic trio of Bergsma, Ariana Williams, and Liz Brenner. In spite of Coach Moore’s belief that the Ducks were too “reliant” on Bergsma tonight, the Ducks had many players coming up big for them in their own ways. Along with her 9 kills, Williams came up big when the Ducks needed her to and though her number of kills may not have shown it, her blocking and her presence did. Lauren Plum also added 40 assists of her own and continued to find the right players to set-up.
The Ducks will likely see an increase in production from Bergsma and Brenner as the tournament goes on, but with a straight set victory in the first round with balanced scoring, the Ducks can continue to look forward to big nights from any one of their players.
“I think we can play at a higher level,” Moore said. “It may be nitpicking, but I’m not interested in winning the first round,” said Coach Moore. “I don’t mean to sound arrogant or cocky or anything, but I think they’re really good and I think we need to play that way every single second — so my expectations for them are really high.”