Canace Finley

Oregon sand volleyball: Ducks claim first win in program history during last day of Gamecock Invitational

After suffering an 0-3 start to its inaugural season, the Oregon sand volleyball team got its first win, 3-2 over Louisiana-Monroe, in the first of two matches to finish out the Gamecock Invitational in South Carolina.

Naya Crittenden and Serena Warner used their athleticism to win their first match of the season, a 21-13, 21-15 victory over the No. 5 spot of Louisiana-Monroe.

After leading 1-0, the Ducks earned the advantage at the No. 4 spot as Shellsy Ashen and Martenne Bettendorf continued their undefeated start to the season with a 21-14, 22-20 victory.

Louisiana-Monroe responded with victories at the No. 1 and No. 2 spots to even up the score at 2-2 and that set the stage for Oregon’s freshman duo of Amanda Benson and Kacey Nady.

All was looking well as Benson and Nady pulled out the first set 21-18 but lost the second set in dramatic fashion 21-23 to set up a winner take all third set. The freshmen responded with a 17-15 victory to not only pull out the match but give the Ducks their first win in program history.

The second match of the day provided very little drama as Oregon was pounded 5-0 by Alabama-Birmingham. The No. 2 spot of Liz Brenner and Tatum Norton was the only Ducks duo to not get swept in the match.

Oregon will have three days off before returning to action in Southern California when they face Cal-State Bakersfield.

Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka

Oregon sand volleyball: Ducks still struggling to begin season, fall to 0-3 in Gamecock Invitational

The Oregon San volleyball team is still experiencing growing pains in its inaugural season as it dropped to 0-3 on the season with losses to LSU and the College of Charleston in the second and third matches of the Gamecock Invitational.

Just like the opening match, the Ducks fell to both opponents 4-1 in the scoring column. Keeping up with the theme of “just like yesterday,” Shellsy Ashen and Martenne Bettendorf were the only Ducks duo to earn a victory, winning both of their matches to record the only points for Oregon throughout the entire Invitational.

Ashen and Bettendorf defeated their LSU counterparts 21-12 and 21-18 and then dispatched the No. 4 spot of College of Charleston players 21-17, 17-21 and 17-15.

The Ducks fell handily to LSU in their first action of the day as only one match went to three sets as Kacey Nady and Tatum Norton rallied to win the first set 21-17 but then fell 19-21 in the second set. The third set provided a lot of drama but the duo came out on the losing end, falling 13-15 at their No. 3 spot.

The match between the Ducks and College of Charleston was as entertaining as it gets as four of the five matches went the three-set distance but the Ducks came up on the losing end on three of them.

Canace Finley and Natalie Bookout Gonzalez showed a lot of fight in their No. 1 match as they came back from losing set one 23-25 to win the second set 21-19 and force a third set. The duo ran out of steam though as they fell 15-11. Oregon’s No. 2 duo spot of Liz Brenner and Amanda Benson started strong with a 21-13 win but fell in the next two sets by scores of 14-21 and 10-15.

Norton and Nady fought back to win their second set 21-18 after falling 15-21 in the first set and force a third and decisive set. Just like the previous duos, this duo lost the third set, falling 10-15 this time.

The Ducks return to action on Sunday to finish out the Gamecock Invitational with matches against Louisiana-Monroe at 6 a.m. and Alabama-Birmingham at 10:30 a.m. PT.

Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka

Oregon sand volleyball: Ducks start inaugural season with loss to South Carolina

As with any new sport, growing pains are to be expected.

The Ducks are now experiencing those pains as they compete in their first ever season of sand volleyball in Oregon athletics history.

Oregon traveled all the way to Columbia, S.C., to open up the season against South Carolina but would not emerge victorious, losing 4-1 in a best-of-five set scenario.

Sand volleyball is different from regular volleyball because each “team” has only two players competing at a time, much different from the standard six-player format seen on the hardwood. Also, each individual team plays in a best-of-three to 21 points, with the winner earning a single point for its school.

Oregon’s No. 4 duo of Shellsy Ashen and Martenne Bettendorf earned the first victory in school history and helped prevent the clean sweep by the Gamecocks, winning 21-9, 20-22 and 15-13.

Amanda Benson and Canace Finley, the Ducks’ top duo, lost in straight sets (21-11,21 -18) to South Carolina’s Paige Wheeler and Megan Kent.

The Ducks lost the No. 2 and No. 3 matches, as well.

Liz Brenner and Natalie Bookout Gonzalez, Oregon’s No. 2 duo, suffered a 24-22 defeat in their first set and were unable to recover from the close loss as they were dominated 21-14 in the second set.

Oregon’s No. 3 duo of Tatum Norton and Kacey Nady showed some fight in the second set of their match. After being thoroughly overmatched in a 21-14 first set loss, the Ducks duo came from behind to force extra points, however were unable to pull together a win, falling 27-25 in the end.

Serena Warner and Naya Crittenden, the Ducks’ tallest and most athletic duo, couldn’t find solid footing in the sand as they fell in straight sets 21-16 and 21-10.

Oregon doesn’t have much time to mourn its loss as it returns to action tomorrow with a doubleheader against LSU at 10:30 a.m. and College of Charleston at 2:45 p.m.

Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka

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


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


Oregon volleyball breaks three-game losing streak, beats Arizona in five sets

Entering Saturday night’s match with Arizona (15-8, 5-6), Oregon knew they couldn’t afford to lose a fourth-straight game. After taking the first set 25-23 against the Wildcats, Oregon (13-9, 6-6) faltered in its next two, making the possibility of escaping its losing streak look bleaker and bleaker with each passing point. Instead of hiding from the adversity presented to them, the Ducks came out firing in the fourth set.

Led by outside hitter Liz Brenner, Oregon took an early lead in the fourth set and never looked back. The Ducks never relinquished their lead and fought off a late Arizona rally to win 25-22.

“I think we were just determined that we needed to come back and work hard and start from the beginning,” Brenner said. “I think we did a great job of that in the fourth game.”

Despite dominating in the fourth set, the Oregon momentum abruptly stopped there and the back-and-forth nature of the game, shown in the first three sets, resumed in the fifth.

Tied 10-10 in the fifth set, Oregon went on a 4-1 run to put the fans at Matthew Knight Arena on their feet in anticipation of a match-ending point. A net violation on a Canace Finley kill attempt by Arizona was the ending point in a long, hard-fought match.

“I think this is huge for us,” Brenner said. “Especially winning a game in five (sets), it’s a big confidence builder.”

After losing to Arizona State last night, head coach Jim Moore cited the need for better defense, especially in regard to digging balls. Against Arizona, the Ducks certainly played like a team that received Moore’s message.

Oregon dug 102 balls, including a team-leading 24 by setter Lauren Plum, setting a tone on defense that was non-existent throughout the three-game losing streak.

“I think we did a much better job of digging balls,” Brenner said. “When we dig balls that really helps us out all-around.”

“We dug a lot more balls (than last night),” Moore said. “Both Amanda (Benson) and Tatum (Norton) played very well. Tatum was awesome at the end digging balls, so that helped a lot.”

Down 2-to-1, it’s tough for any team to mount a comeback, but Moore credits the team’s ability to not give up and stay in the game as the reasoning for the eventual comeback victory.

“They did a good job of pulling themselves back together and hanging in there,” Moore said. “They didn’t just quit. We haven’t fought. This is the first time we looked like we were in a fight and not being beaten. It was an absolute must-win.”

The Ducks will make a Southern California road trip next as they face USC and UCLA. Their first match with the Trojans is set for Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.

Follow Joseph Hoyt on Twitter @Jhoyt42

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.

Oregon Ducks Volleyball Weekend Recap: Ducks Split Series


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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