After needing a victory to help solidify its spot in the NCAA tournament, Oregon came away from its match against No. 20 California with a statement win in straight sets (25-21, 25-21, 25-21).
“It helps, there’s no to lie with that. It helps and we still got a shot at being okay,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said of his team’s chances at making the NCAA Tournament after the win. “If we take them (remaining opponents) one at a time we’ll be okay. Let’s try to win each play, that’s the key.”
Although Oregon didn’t get the victory last night, it was a good performance for the Ducks as they never trailed during the first two sets and battled back in the third set for the win.
“We didn’t have the lapses we had and we didn’t make as many errors,” Moore said when comparing last night’s game to tonight. “Part of it can be attributed to our opponent but we didn’t do as many silly things. We just cut our errors down (and) that was the biggest difference.”
Liz Brenner led the Ducks with a match-high 18 kills while setter Lauren Plum played her best game since returning from a foot injury. She finished 40 assists by doing a good job of distributing the ball throughout her team.
“Lauren did a really good job of that, distributing the ball,” Moore said. “She got to Serena (Warner) early which helped a lot. It really opened things up for Liz.”
In set one, the Ducks went back-and-forth with the Bears until a kill by Warner gave Oregon a 6-5 lead, something it wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the set.
A block by the Golden Bears kept them in the match at 11-10 until a 4-1 run by Oregon extended the lead to 15-11. Refusing to quit, Cal got within three at 17-14 but the Ducks ran off four straight points for their largest lead at 21-14.
Back-to-back kills by Plum and Brenner ended the set at 25-21 for Oregon.
Set two began with Oregon slowly pulling away for a 12-7 lead but three straight points by Cal cut the deficit to two and prompted Moore to call a timeout.
Whatever Moore said during the timeout worked as the Ducks slowly began to pull away, taking a 22-16 lead, their largest of the set, on a kill by Canace Finley.
Cal refused to quit, battling back with a 5-0 run to cut Oregon’s lead to 22-21. A serving error by Cal on the next play was all the Ducks needed to seize back the momentum and back-to-back kills by Brenner ended the set.
The Golden Bears jumped all over Oregon in the third set, taking a quick 4-0 lead before Finley’s kill got the Ducks on the board. Oregon slowly battled back and eventual took a 17-16 lead on a net violation by Cal.
Another Brenner kill gave the Ducks a 21-18 lead but two straight points by Cal cut the deficit to one. Oregon responded by going back to their All-American in Brenner as she notched kills for two of Oregon’s final four points for the win.
Ariana Williams added 11 kills for the Ducks while Finley had nine and Martenne Bettendorf added eight. Freshman libero Amanda Benson recorded 24 digs, tied for the most by a Pac-12 player in the three sets this year.
Oregon returns to action Friday, Nov. 22 when they take on Utah in Salt Lake City at 6 p.m, the first of three straight road matches for the Ducks. They close out their season with a home game on Friday, Nov. 29 against Oregon State at 8 p.m., four hours after the football team kicks off against the Beavers at Autzen Stadium.
Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka