No. 12 Oregon Ducks volleyball (3-1) returned from a three-set loss on Saturday to sweep the Portland State Vikings (2-2) in three sets. After a 25-10 set one barrage that was dominated by Liz Brenner, the Ducks faltered but found their way to a 28-26 second set win, cruising to the sweep on a 25-14 set three.
“Game two is our issue. We came out great, did things great, but it’s going to be our issue all year until we fix that,” coach Jim Moore said, adding that the problem is “to think that you can relax. The moment we do that, we’re in trouble.”
Canace Finley and Ariana Williams aided Brenner in pacing the Ducks throughout, although Finley and Williams used far less attempts. Where Brenner had 14 kills against 5 errors on 44 attempts (.205), Finley had just one error and 11 kills on 17 attempts for an insane .588 attack percentage.
“I thought Liz got way too many swings,” Moore said.
Still, Brenner had a lot of kills in crucial spots. As much as it’s the coach’s job to focus on the negatives — something Moore admitted in interviews — Brenner came up big. And as much as the Ducks will face tougher tests than the Vikings, there were times throughout when Brenner looked in midseason form.
The junior had four straight kills that drove a 20-10 game into a 23-10 foregone conclusion. Then, in set two, a game with nine ties and six lead changes, Brenner struggled through a negative attack percentage to come out with three kills and a block. It wasn’t perfect, but one of those three kills gave them a tie at 26, and she followed it up with a fierce block.
Finley though, turned it on in set three. Five of her 11 kills came in the deciding set and she only took 7 attempts at the attack. The sophomore outside hitter from Fort Collins, Colo., was excellent on Saturday, and Moore praised her after the match.
“Canace, I think, has turned a corner,” he said. “She played well Saturday night and tonight she lit it up. She was ridiculously good in practice yesterday, she continues that, we’re going to be good.”
The win sets the Ducks up for a weekend trip to the great state of Michigan for a Friday tilt with the Spartans of Michigan State and a Saturday morning match with the Michigan Wolverines. The loss to Ohio dropped the Ducks from eighth to 12th in the AVCA coaches poll, so they’ll be looking for some big sets on the road in Big 10 country.