Ducks Back in the Dance

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Oregon is back in the NCAA Tournament after a one-year absence, locking up the No. 10 overall seed in the tournament following the announcement of the field on Sunday. The Ducks will face the winner of Notre Dame and Army on April 15 at 9 a.m. PT.
 
The entire 48-team tournament will be played in Omaha, Neb. at the CHI Health Center. The top 16 seeds – which includes Oregon – received first-round byes with the remaining 32 teams playing in the opening round on April 14.
 
“I’m excited for the team,” said head coach Matt Ulmer. “They’ve worked so hard and we’ve come a long way since the last time we were in the tournament so to see us have an even higher seed than the last time is a testament to how hard these guys have worked.”
 
The Ducks matched the best-ever finish in the Pac-12 in program history, coming in second at 14-4 in the conference-only regular season. The 14 wins are also tied for the second-most league wins in a season for Oregon, trailing only the 16 Pac-12 wins the 2012 national runner-up team finished with.
 
Despite having two weekends cancelled and playing just half the matches with a full roster, the Ducks were able to string together a couple of long winning streaks, highlighted by a seven-match streak that was the longest Pac-12 win streak in a single season in program history. Oregon also had a five-match win streak towards the end of the season and picked up a number of quality wins through the year, highlighted by one win each over NCAA Tournament teams Washington, Washington State and UCLA.
 
“This year has been very unprecedented,” said outside hitter Brooke Nuneviller. “I think our team has just taken it day-by-day and tried to get better. I think if we play good volleyball we’re hard to stop. So I’m hoping – and hopefully we’re all expecting – that we can make a run.”
 
Statistically, Oregon was one of the strongest across the board in all major categories in the Pac-12. The Ducks ended the year as the only team in the conference to finish in the top four of the league in kills, assists, digs and blocks per set, highlighted by a conference-leading 15.94 digs per set.
 
“We’re a pretty well-rounded group,” said Ulmer. “We just play a really good brand of team volleyball. Our defense is one of the best in Oregon history. Our offense has gotten better throughout the year, so if we can continue to get better offensively and play the defense we’ve been playing we’re a tough team to beat.”
 

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