The Pac-12 era got off to a good start for the 16th ranked Oregon Ducks when the volleyball team defeated Arizona and Arizona State at Matthew Knight Arena over the weekend.
Oregon swept the Wildcats 3-0 (25-23, 25-10, 25-20) on Friday, improving their season mark to 8-1. Arizona had won the last five meetings.
Alaina Bergsma led the Oregon attack with 16 kills. As a team, the Ducks hit for .299 while holding the visiting Wildcats to a .143 mark.
On Sunday, the Ducks dropped their first set in seven matches against Arizona State.
Oregon did show a more balanced attack against the Sun Devils with four players reaching the double figure level in kills. Bergsma was at the head of the pack with 22. Lauren Plum and Katherine Fischer each added a dozen, and Ariana Williams knocked down 10.
Oregon out hit ASU .279 to .161 and held a 63-42 advantage in kills. Despite the lopsided advantage on the stat sheet, the Sun Devils weren’t willing to go quietly back to the desert after the Ducks handily won the first set 25-12.
ASU took an early lead in the second set and, although Oregon rallied late to tie the match at 19, the Sun Devils escaped with the set on a pair of Oregon attack errors.
“We came out well,” said head coach Jim Moore of Sunday’s first set. “We jumped on them in the beginning and you could just see us thinking, ‘oh, we’re fine’. But they (ASU) got hot, got all excited, started yelling and screaming, and they got in it. You let somebody in it and you’re going to have to fight.”
In the third session, Arizona State battled Oregon tough to a 13-13 tie. They wilted, however, under a barrage of Bergsma and Lauren Gross attacks. The Ducks claimed the set 25-20.
Oregon built a comfortable 20-15 margin in the fourth set and appeared to be set to close out the match. Unfortunately, Oregon was again victimized by untimely attack errors, and ASU fought their way back to a tie at 23.
But Bergsma and Williams ended the suspense, as well as the match 25-23 with a pair of kills.
“That was the frustrating part,” said Moore. “We were on them so well in the beginning and then just kind of relax and think that it’s over,We haven’t done that in a while. So, although we were pretty nervous at one point, it was good come out and take care of Arizona State.”
The Ducks are the road for their next four matches. First on their travel itinerary, they’ll face conference newcomers Colorado (Sep 23) and Utah (Sep 24). Then, Oregon will cross the Columbia River to tangle with Washington (Sep 30) and Washington State (Oct 1).
The next homestand will be early next month, when the Ducks return to Matthew Knight Arena to host the Bay Area schools. Cal will be the opponent on Friday, October 7th. One day later, they’ll play the Stanford Cardinal on the 8th. Both matches are set to begin at 7:00 pm.
— Rick Morgan for EDN