Ariana Williams

Oregon volleyball wins fourth straight heading into season finale

The Ducks are flying high at the right time.

With the NCAA Tournament looming in the near future, the Ducks have all but secured a spot in the tournament and are playing the best they have all year.

Wednesday’s sweep of Washington State was Oregon’s fourth consecutive win and third road win in a row. The Ducks defeated the Cougars 25-22, 25-19, 25-19 to move their record to 18-11 overall and 11-8 in the Pac-12.

Once again, Liz Brenner was Oregon’s best offensive player as she tallied a match-high 15 kills and added five digs. Ariana Williams and Martenne Bettendorf also notched double-digit kills, 12 and 11 respectively, while nobody from Washington State notched double-digit kills.

Lauren Plum, Oregon’s setter, recorded a match-high 43 assists and added three digs while freshman libero Amanda Benson added a team-high nine digs.

Set one provided all the entertainment and drama any fan could ask for. With the score tied at 6-6, the Ducks went on runs of 4-0 and 8-2 to take a 22-13 lead. With the set looking like Oregon’s, the Cougars came clawing back, getting within two points at 24-22. Luckily for Oregon, Canace Finley ended the comeback by Washington State and notched Oregon’s final point for the 1-0 lead.

The second set was as close as they come with 14 ties taking place before it was over. Trailing 18-16 late in the set, a timely 6-1 run gave Oregon the cushion they needed for a 22-19 lead. Each team would trade points the rest of the way as Oregon took the 2-0 lead.

Coming out of the break, Oregon didn’t play safe with a lead as the Ducks swung and swung en route to 17 kills in the match and only one error. Bettendorf was the star as she had a set-high seven kills on just 10 attempts and no errors to give the Ducks the sweep.

Oregon wraps up the regular season with a home match against archrival Oregon State on Friday at 8 p.m. Prior to the first serve, the Ducks will honor seniors Bethany Bair, Lauren Plum and Ariana Williams for their dedication while donning the green and yellow.

Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka

Ducks volleyball flies high for third-straight win

It’s been a long time coming, but the Oregon volleyball team is finally finding an identity and at the best time possible.

With their NCAA tournament chances hanging in the balance, the Ducks defeated then-No. 20 Cal at home and went on the road to defeat Utah and Colorado for its first three-game winning streak since the beginning of September.

In their latest match, the Ducks held off a pesky Colorado team to win in four sets (29-27, 25-21, 20-25, 25-13) and keep their tournament chances alive and looking very solid.

Liz Brenner, Oregon’s All-American outside hitter, continued her strong play of late, noting a match-high 20 kills to go with 13 digs. Martenne Bettendorf held down the opposite side of Brenner by contributing 17 kills, one off her career-high.

Oregon is developing the “swing first” mentality as the offense is relying on setter Lauren Plum, who had a match-high 49 assists, to distribute the ball throughout the team to take advantage of one-on-one attacking situations.

The Ducks used a variety of hitters at the net to keep Colorado off-balance as Brenner led the way with 46 attacks while Bettendorf had 44. Ariana Williams and Canace Finley had 28 and 19 attacks, respectively, while Serena Warner added seven.

Set one was the most thrilling of the match as the Ducks jumped out to a quick 4-0 advantage, but the Buffaloes responded with a 10-5 run to take a one-point lead. The set was close throughout and went past the 25-point score. The Ducks captured the win as consecutive blocks by Williams helped end the match 29-27 in favor of Oregon.

The second set was close in the beginning as neither team pulled away, but with the score tied at seven, the Ducks went on a 10-0 run to take control. Not to be outdone, Colorado responded with a 14-6 run to cut the deficit to two points. Finley and Bettendorf responded for Oregon with consecutive kills to seal the win and take the 2-0 lead.

Not wanting to be swept on its home court, Colorado came out firing on all cylinders to win set three. The Buffaloes used a solid offensive attack while controlling Oregon at the net that led to Colorado out-hitting Oregon .419-.150 and seizing momentum.

The fourth set was the Williams and Finley show. Williams helped Oregon take a 6-5 lead, and Finley helped aid a 12-3 run as the Ducks were up 18-8. Unlike the second set, Oregon never took its foot off the gas pedal, swinging away to come up with the 25-13 win.

Libero Amanda Benson had a match-high 18 digs while Williams and Warner combined for nine blocks.

The Ducks hit the road again on Wednesday to face Washington State in Pullman, Wash., at 7 p.m. They return home to face Oregon State at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29, four hours after the football team kicks off against the Beavers at Autzen Stadium.

Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka

Oregon volleyball gets much-needed win against No. 20 Cal

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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

 

No. 23 Oregon drops 3-1 to ASU

After dropping two straight conference games to Stanford and California, the No. 23 ranked Ducks (12-9, 5-6) returned home and fell to an Arizona State (14-9, 3-8) team that had lost seven straight games heading into tonight’s matchup. Despite hitting .319 the Ducks struggled to defend the Sun Devil attack and simply could not put together enough defensive stops to stay in the game. Arizona State finished hitting .365, the best against Oregon has seen all-season.

“We didn’t dig any balls,” Moore said. “Things certainly weren’t clicking blocking wise and defensively. They (Arizona State) did some great things, but there were a whole bunch of balls that were just easily dug balls that whether it’s indecision or whatever that was, we didn’t dig them.”

The struggles began midway through the first set. After trading points throughout the set, Arizona State went on a 8-0 run to take a demanding 18-10 lead. The Sun Devils went on to narrowly take the first set 25-23. They finished the set hitting .302 percent.

The Ducks answered back in the second set. With a narrow 20-18 lead, the Ducks went on a crucial 3-0 run to grab a late lead. They eventually went on to win the set 25-21 to tie the game up at one a piece.

The third set was the deciding factor in the game. Both teams had been hitting well, but it would be the Sun Devils stringing together another late run to regain the edge. After leading 17-15 midway through the set, Arizona State went on a 4-1 run to grab a five point lead heading down the final stretch. They finished off the set 25-19 to grab a 2-1 lead.

The Ducks fell apart in the fourth set. Following three sets where they were hitting above .300 percent, they came out of the huddle with no rhythm and could not stop a Sun Devil offense that had been hitting well all game. Following a 11-3 lead early in the set, the Sun Devils cruised to an eventual 25-15 win to grab their fourth conference win of the year.

“I feel like we just weren’t getting very many touches at the block,” Liz Brenner said. “When your block doesn’t get very many touches, it’s really hard to dig balls, so I think our defense was just a little off tonight.”

Leading the way for the Sun Devils were Macey Gardner (24) and BreElle Bailey (18) who combined for 46 total kills. The two accounted for more than half of their team’s attempts and single-handedly led them to the win.

For the Ducks, it was Brenner, who had a season-high 23 kills and Ariana Williams with 13 kills. Both reflected a solid night of hitting for the Ducks, but could not overcome the Sun Devil’s consistent hitting throughout the game.

The Ducks will now turn around and face Arizona at home tomorrow night. Game time is set for a 7 p.m. start.

For all news and recaps following the game, check back here with the Emerald.

 

 

Oregon volleyball falls to Stanford in top-20 battle

The Oregon volleyball team, winners of four of its last five games, couldn’t keep up its recent run of success. They fell to the No. 6 Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto, Calif. The Cardinal defeated the Ducks 25-22, 25-13, and 25-22 for the sweep.

The No. 20 ranked Ducks came out strong and battled with the Cardinal in sets one and three but were unable to find their offensive groove due to Stanford’s height and athletic ability. The Cardinal, the second best blocking team in the country, did a good job of controlling Oregon’s power hitters and keeping them at bay with 14 team blocks.

Oregon’s Canace Finley ended the battle with a match-high 12 kills. Liz Brenner, Oregon’s do-it-all athlete, finished the match with 10 kills and 16 digs, tied for the team high with libero Amanda Benson. Ariana Williams, Oregon’s starting middle blocker, had one of her worse nights attacking, totaling six one 17 attempts but with eight errors, good enough for a hitting percentage of negative-.118.

Stanford’s Carly Wopat and Jordan Burgess ended the match tied for a team-high of 11 kills, while setter Madi Bugg dished out 36 assists.

The Ducks had two players hit in the negative percentage while Stanford’s low was .050. As a team, the Ducks hit .122 and Stanford hit .296.

Set one gave Oregon it’s best chance at coming out on top as they led 12-6 early in the set. A 7-1 run by Stanford tied the game at 13-all. The game would be tied up again at 21 but a 4-1 run by the Cardinal ended it.

A 14-3 Stanford run to end set two proved to be the demise of Oregon as they were unable to compete with a Cardinal team that came out firing on all cylinders.

Once again, the Ducks were trailing in set three before a small comeback saw them get within two at 20-18. It wouldn’t be enough as the end result was the same as the first set, thus completing the sweep.

Oregon returns to action in Berkeley, Calif. on Friday night when they play the California l Golden Bears at 6 p.m.

Oregon volleyball rebounds with sweep of Colorado

A strong performance by All-American Liz Brenner is exactly what Oregon needed after being swept by No. 1 USC the last time they were on court.

“The one thing that Liz is doing right now, for sure, is bringing energy – I mean that’s the thing we need the most,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “Liz has confidence, not in a bad way, but you can sit next to her in class and still know she’s, uh maybe, the best athlete around.”

Brenner had a match-high 14 kills to go with 11 digs and three assists. Shellsy Ashen was the Ducks main distributor on the night, finishing with 37 assists while Martenne Bettendorf and Canace Finley each contributed nine kills.

Amanda Benson continued her stellar play as a freshman libero, recording a match-high 16 digs while middle blockers Serena Warner and Ariana Williams totaled 10 kills and four blocks.

Thanks to some very shaky serving by Colorado (six service errors) and strong play by Finley and Serena Warner down the stretch, Oregon took the first set 25-21.

After trading leads for much of the set, the Ducks found themselves down 21-19 after a Colorado kill. Not quick to panic, Oregon responded with a 6-0 run that began with a Brenner kill. Finley notched two kills at points 23 and 24 and a block by Warner officially put the Buffaloes away.

Led by Brenner, Oregon won set two in come-from-behind fashion.

After trailing 8-9 early in the set, the Ducks reeled off five straight points, including two of them on Brenner kills. With the 13-9 lead, Oregon never looked back with a 23-14 lead being the largest margin. Another Brenner kill, her fifth of the set, and a Colorado hitting error finalized the score at 25-16.

Brenner continued her strong game two with the first kill of set three for a 1-0 Oregon lead.

This set was a back-and-forth affair with Colorado showing its fight and Oregon trying to stay a few points ahead. The Ducks seized control for good when a Finley kill gave Oregon an 18-16 lead. From that point forward, the Ducks slowly pulled away with Finley accounting for three more points as Oregon won 25-18.

Set three also proved to be Oregon’s best offensive set of the year. The Ducks committed only six attacking errors yet notched 22 kills out of their 25 points for a final hitting percentage of .432.

Oregon returns to action Sunday when they host Utah at 12 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena.

Photos: Oregon volleyball – Ducks conquer Colorado Buffaloes 3-0

The Oregon Ducks took on the Colorado Buffaloes Friday night in a shut out, winning 3-0. The Ducks look to play Utah on Sunday at 12 p.m., at Matthew Knight Arena.

Ducks Ariana Williams (7) smashes a ball towards Buffaloes outside hitter Kerra Schroeder (6). The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Oregon’s Ariana Williams (7) smashes a ball toward Buffaloes’ outside hitter Kerra Schroeder (6). The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Buffaloes Kerra Schroeder holds off the Oregon attack during the second game of the match. The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Buffaloes’ Kerra Schroeder holds off the Oregon attack during the second game of the match. The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Ducks Martenne Bettendorf (18) smashes a ball successfully past Buffalo defenders. The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Ducks’ Martenne Bettendorf (18) smashes a ball successfully past Buffalo defenders. The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Ducks players Martenne Bettendorf (18) and Tatum Norton (17) sign autographs for fans after a homecoming win. The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Ducks players Martenne Bettendorf (18) and Tatum Norton (17) sign autographs for fans after a homecoming win. The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Oregon coach Jim Moore cracks a smile during his post-game talk with the media. The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Oregon coach Jim Moore cracks a smile during his post-game talk with the media. The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Ducks outside hitter, Martenne Bettendorf (18), talks with media after a 3-0 victory against the Buffaloes. The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Ducks outside hitter, Martenne Bettendorf (18), talks with media after a 3-0 victory against the Buffaloes. The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Oregon Ducks Volleyball Weekend Recap: Ducks Split Series

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The No. 22 Ducks came into Sunday with a good chance at continuing momentum from two straight wins over ranked programs in the week before. Sunday, Oregon used the talents of substitute setter Shellsy Ashen to get past No. 15 Arizona State, and on Friday, Ashen’s career night (51 assists) allowed them to take down No. 23 UCLA. But the Ducks fell short of top-ranked USC on Sunday, dropping straight sets to the on-fire Trojans.

Oregon Ducks Volleyball
Oregon Ducks Volleyball | (Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

Oregon started the weekend on a positive note, as the Ducks’ triumvirate of lead attackers dominated the Bruins offensively on Friday. Canace Finley racked up 11 kills, Ariana Williams tallied 17 and Liz Brenner led the team off with 19. Brenner had a low attack percentage (.189), hurt by her nine errors, but the trio combined for a .307 mark — which is excellent for the sheer amount of kills they contributed.

The defensive performance was nearly as good, as three Ducks finished with double-digit digs: Martenne Bettendorf, Amanda Benson and Tatum Norton. Brenner added nine digs. The team outdug UCLA 67-55 which made a huge difference in the final stretch, as the Ducks were outblocked 10-5.

The Ducks fell early and lost an ugly first set to UCLA, 25-17, but came back and answered with a 25-21 second set. 25-17 and 25-23 were the final two sets in favor of Oregon, so they prevailed in front of a raucous Matthew Knight Arena crowd of 2,250, back for their first home match since dropping a four-set match to Washington.

Finley, Brenner and Williams continued the offensive output on Sunday, but the efficiency came crashing down against the stout Ladies of Troy. The usually efficient Finley saw her attack percentage dwindle to .167 as she committed 7 of the Ducks’ 25 errors.

Ashen put up 37 assists and Benson crested 20 digs, leading the team with 21. But the Trojans were simply better as they led the Ducks in every area of the game, ahead in attack percentage in all three sets — .350-.239 in the first and .423-.147 in the second. The Ducks made a charge in the third set, a 9-0 run that led them to take a 24-23 lead.

But USC scored the last three points to silence the crowd and walk away with a sweep over the eclectic 2013 Ducks.

Oregon stays at Matt Knight next weekend, as they take on the Mountain schools of the Pac-12. The Ducks will take on the Colorado Buffaloes on Friday at 7 p.m. and the Utah Utes on Sunday.

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Oregon Ducks Volleyball Splits Weekend Series With Arizona Schools

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No. 21 Oregon Ducks volleyball (9-5, 2-2 Pac-12) went into the weekend in Arizona with a tough loss to Washington resting as a chip on their shoulder. Oregon followed up a loss to unranked Arizona (12-4, 2-2) with a win over No. 15 Arizona State (13-3, 2-2) to split the weekend and return home with a respectable nine wins before facing No. 16 UCLA and No. 2 USC this weekend.

Much like the match against Washington, Oregon dropped the two sets before intermission before charging toward a third-set victory. Also much like Washington, Oregon lost set number four for a 3-1, 22-25—23-25—25-20—22-25, match loss.

Liz Brenner
Liz Brenner | (Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

The Ducks totaled up 27 errors through the four sets and lost the block battle 11-3, making Liz Brenner‘s 22 kills and Martenne Bettendorf‘s 15 less useful. Brenner’s 61 swings and Bettendorf’s 48 glared from the page, though Brenner added 20 digs to keep the Ducks defense in business.

Ariana Williams added 10 kills and led the Ducks offense in efficiency again with a .333 attack percentage.

Oregon dropped the first set against Arizona State before ripping off three-straight wins. Brenner again had 15+ kills, with 17 against 5 errors on 51 swings, but this match was Canace Finley‘s as she put 14 kills on the mat on just 24 swings, and added four big blocks. Oregon won the blocking battle 14-6, which allowed them to survive a barrage of 20 kills from Sun Devil Macey Gardner.

Lauren Plum missed her first full match of the year — with an ankle injury — and in her place, junior setter Shellsy Ashen put up 40 assists to her teammates and Oregon’s 48 total assists beat Arizona State by four. Ashen played all four sets on Friday as well, while Plum missed one of Friday’s sets, and for the first time in a while, Plum wasn’t the only Duck with double-digit assists as Ashen notched 20 that evening.

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Volleyball drops second straight Pac-12 battle

Although the Oregon volleyball team had a week off from competition, the result was the same as the last time they took the floor.

After suffering a four-set loss last Friday against the No. 2 Washington Huskies, the Ducks fell in another four sets to the Arizona Wildcats.

Once again, Oregon lost the first two sets (25-22, 25-23) of the match before winning the third set (25-20) to force a fourth and — potentially — fifth set. The final set would never come as Arizona defeated Oregon 25-22 in the fourth set to pull out the victory.

Liz Brenner continued to show why she was selected as a preseason All-American, accounting for 22 kills and 20 digs, all team highs. In her last two games, Brenner has accounted for 45 kills and for the season, she has a grand total of 167. Her 20 digs were the most she’s had in a game this season and tied her career-high from a match last year against the Huskies.

Sets one and two were very similar with each team trading leads, none coming by more than four points in the sets. The difference proved to be Arizona’s defense against Oregon’s offense. Widely considered one of the best defensive teams in the nation, tied for 17th in the country with 16.82 digs per set, Arizona used their talents to consistently dig out hard hit balls by Oregon’s Brenner, Martenne Bettendorf (15 kills) and Ariana Williams (10 kills).

Not only did the Wildcats find a way to neutralize Oregon’s offensive game, the Ducks seemed to psych themselves out, committing 15 attacking errors in the first two sets.

Set three went Oregon’s way as the Ducks were able to pull out the back-and-forth contest. Oregon was able to take the set largely because they committed only five hitting errors compared to the 10 by the Wildcats.

The Ducks came out firing on all cylinders, hoping to force a final fifth set, by starting the set with a 10-5 lead. It was short-lived as Arizona responded with an 8-2 run to take the lead. It was all the Wildcats needed as they kept that momentum and eventually ended the match.

Oregon setter Lauren Plum dished out 32 assists while Shellsy Ashen added 20 more. The Wildcats were led by Madi Kingdon with 24 kills and Penina Snuka with 46 assists.

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