duck volleyball

Oregon-Oregon St. Volleyball

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Attending the Civil War volleyball made for an exciting evening. Oregon was undefeated and the Beavers had a record of 10 and 1. The setting for this game was different than most volleyball matches I have attended. For starters, the entire Oregon Marching Band was present in the West end of Matt Knight Arena. Secondly, there were more Pit Crew members in attendance. Thirdly, more fans attended this game than usual and the energy of the crowd was good. Lots of noise to go with good play.

Oregon got off to a good start but lost a little intensity towards the end of the first match. They finished hard and secured the victory. The second game was a different story. Oregon didn’t lead the second match until close to the end. eventually, the team pulled out the victory. The third set was totally different than the second match. Oregon came out hot and had no trouble putting the Beavers down easily.

There was a special moment after the matches were finished. Coach Moore became the winningest coach for Oregon. He went around the circle hugging each and every player. It was obvious there is a lot of respect between players and coach. That was heartwarming to see.

I was happy that I was able to attend this game and capture some of the action. I’m still learning where to place myself to get the best shots. One game at a time. This is a fun learning process.

Ducks Volleyball Captures Five Set Match Win Over Arizona

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It took a while to put away the unranked Wildcats, but Liz Brenner‘s 28 kills led No. 23 Oregon (13-9, 6-6 Pac-12) to a five-set win over Arizona.

The teams traded 25-23 set wins in sets one and two, with Arizona taking a 25-23 win in set three to take a 2-1 advantage. Oregon won 25-22 in set four and took the match with a 15-12 deciding set. As you can tell from the scores, it was a close one throughout; however, it’s impossible to have a 25-24 set win, as it’s impossible to win a set by just one point.

Naya Crittenden
Oregon’s Naya Crittenden separates two Wildcat defenders with a hit | (Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

Oregon struggled early after taking the first set. In their two set losses, the Ducks committed 8 errors each set and saw their attack percentage drop below .200. While the team never had an exactly impressive attack (mostly created by Arizona’s 20.0 total team blocks), the Ducks outdug the Wildcats 102-87.

Led by Lauren Plum‘s 24 and libero Amanda Benson‘s 21, Brenner dug out 19 and Tatum Norton had 18.

“This is huge for us, especially winning in five sets,” Brenner said. “It’s a big confidence-builder for the younger girls because we haven’t won a game this long this year.”

Junior Brenner and senior Plum both finished with double-doubles, as Plum put up 39 assists in this one. Plum also added two kills on two attack attempts.

As tough as it was for Oregon to get set wins early, they closed out the Wildcats when it came down to the clutch. Down 2-1, the Ducks never trailed (or even tied) in the fourth set, and they only tied three times in the crucial fifth set.

Oregon travels to take on the southern California schools this week. Both should be ranked when Oregon plays them.

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Ducks Volleyball Suffers 3-1 Loss to Woeful Sun Devils

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Lauren Plum reached 50 assists and Liz Brenner put up a 20-kill double-double, but the stats aren’t enough when you suffer 6+ losses in the last two sets. Oregon volleyball (12-9, 5-6 Pac-12) fell to unranked Arizona State (14-9, 3-8) in a 3-1 match, 25-23—21-25—25-19—25-15.

The Ducks fought hard early, dropping a close one in set number one. They matched the Sun Devils in kills that set and actually outhit them by .070 attack percentage, committing three less errors. Oregon continued an efficient offensive output in the second set, outhitting Arizona State by .030, allowing them a 25-21 set win.

Oregon vs Arizona st. volleyball
A flock of Ducks reach high to block Arizona State’s Macey Gardner | (Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

But that’s exactly when the shootout of this match began, and the Sun Devils were just more stocked on offensive weapons. Arizona State had two attackers with at least 18 kills, three double-digit killers and four with at least nine kills. And where Oregon’s attack percentage plummeted from .343 in set three to .189 in set four, Arizona State’s clip ballooned to .417 in set three and .441 in set four — committing only one error in the final, clinching set.

“(Arizona State) played very well,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “But there were a whole bunch of easily dug balls, whether that was indecision or whatever it was, we just didn’t dig them. We have been digging a bunch of those, so it was a bit of a surprise tonight.”

The evening was Brenner’s (23) fourth 20-kill match this year, as she hit .385 and only committed three of Oregon’s 16 errors. The Jesuit alumna added 14 digs to lead the Ducks with her eighth double-double.

Ariana Williams put up 13 kills to join Brenner as the lone double-digit killers for Oregon, though Canace Finley and Martenne Bettendorf put up nine each.

The match was the first time the senior setter Plum played the primary setter role for a whole match since (coincidentally) the last time Oregon and Arizona State matched up. Her replacement for the past month, Shellsy Ashen, played for part of one set of this one, and added 7 assists to Plum’s 50. Plum also chipped in 7 digs in her return to the hardwood.

Oregon takes on No. 24 Arizona on Saturday.

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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 Officially Add Sand Volleyball as Women’s Varsity Sport

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Sand Volleyball
Sand Volleyball

The UO athletic department announced late Friday evening that the Ducks would add sand volleyball to its slate of women’s sports.

Beginning in the next spring session, spring of 2014, sand volleyball will be the 12th Duck women’s sport and the 20th overall. The UO becomes the seventh school in the Pac-12 conference to add the fledgling sport.

It is thought to be more of an extension of the traditional court sport — with Stacy Metro, a full-time assistant on Jim Moore’s court coaching squad, taking over as the sand head coach. Metro said she played outside as an athlete and it helped her inside game.

There were 15 programs in this sport in 2012, but look to be 35 programs for this upcoming season and they need just 40 to start competing as an NCAA championship sport.

“It is no surprise to see Oregon take the lead on bringing Sand Volleyball to this part of the country,” AVCA executive director Kathy DeBoer said. “They understand the synergy between the sand and the court programs.”

Oregon joins Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Stanford, UCLA and USC in the burgeoning sport.

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Photos: Washington Huskies vs Oregon Ducks Volleyball

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The No. 21 Oregon Ducks volleyball team played host to the No. 2 overall Washington Huskies in an exciting rival match that ultimately sent the crowd home disappointed. The Huskies took a four set victory at Matt Knight Arena.

All photos are available for purchase.

Ducks Volleyball Opens Pac-12 Slate With Sweep Over Rival Beavers

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No. 21 Oregon Ducks volleyball (8-3, 1-0 Pac-12) opened its Pac-12 slate by absolutely demolishing the Beavers (9-3, 0-1) in the Corvallis Civil War. Though they suffered from early deficits each set, Oregon won all three sets by at least six points, sweeping Oregon State 25-17—25-18—25-19.

In sum, there were 22 ties and nine lead changes throughout the match, as the Ducks had to overcome hostile crowd noise. But when this team gets going, there’s not a lot that crowd noise can do to take it out of them. The usual suspects sent blows time and again as Liz Brenner (15) and Ariana Williams (11) finished with double-digit kills and they were joined by eight kills from streaky sophomore Martenne Bettendorf and nine from Canace Finley.

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

Finley’s been nothing short of outstanding this year, and she was the complete package for Oregon in this one, leading the team in blocks with seven. The defense for Oregon tallied 10 total blocks and 35 total digs, outblocking the Beavs by six and outdigging them by an astounding eight. The defense was led by Finley, but embodied by defensive specialist Amanda Benson.

The freshman libero, Benson, stepped right onto the starting roster to replace last year’s senior liberos, Haley Jacob and Kellie Kawasaki, and has made very few mistakes. She led the Ducks with 10 digs and holds the Oregon season lead for digs with 130.

But lest ye think the defense won this one, it was an on point offensive attack that destroyed the Beavers. The team had their season-high attacking percentage with .413, their highest total since the last time the Ducks breached .400 — against Washington on Oct. 12, 2012 — and while it was a team effort, it was an incredibly efficient one with only four attackers finishing with double-digit swings.

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

Brenner tallied 15 kills on just 35 attempts. Williams was 11 for 20. Bettendorf was 8 for 18. And Finley had 9 for 16.

Senior setter Lauren Plum didn’t attempt anything on the attack, but chipped in four kills, finished with 40 assists, and added a point of her own with an ace.

The biggest match thus far of Oregon’s season takes place this Friday, when the Ducks return home to take on the Washington Huskies. At 8 p.m. on Friday at Matt Knight Arena, it’s a battle of top-25 Pac-12 powers and could be a huge momentum builder for Oregon’s season.

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No. 20 Oregon Volleyball Gets Sweep of Fresno State Classic

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No. 20 Oregon Volleyball (7-3) answered a lot of early-season questions with a nine-set sweep of their three matches in the Fresno State Classic. Ariana Williams had double-digit kills in all three matches and after the second set of match one, the Ducks won every set by at least four.

Match one on Friday night started close, but Oregon’s defense tightened up later on. Against Cal State Bakersfield, the Ducks won 25-23 and 25-22 before dominating set three 25-18, with the help of 12 Bakersfield errors in that set alone. Senior setter Lauren Plum led the team in assists (36) once again, but also reached her fourth double-double of the season with 10 digs. Williams led the team in kills with 12 and the team outshot CSU by a considerable margin throughout.

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

That CSU match was probably Plum’s best of the season as she added five kills on six attempts for a blistering .833 clip. Plum’s specialty is a trick shot which turns the second hit (typically angled for an assist to a hitter) into a sneaky lift over the net. When used sparingly, it has had an excellent rate of success.

The Ducks woke up early Saturday morning and got right back to work. They stormed out to beat Belmont 25-12, 25-20 and 25-15, finishing with a .356 attack percentage, compared to their opponent’s .040 rate. The Bruins were overmatched in just about every phase of the game as they lost the blocking battle 11-3 and, despite the Ducks’ error problems, Belmont doubled Oregon up in errors, 22-11.

Four Ducks finished the second match with at least seven kills, led again by Williams at 11 but followed closely by Martenne Bettendorf (8), Liz Brenner (8) and Canace Finley (7). Brenner had 9 in the first match as well, but finished all three matches with attack percentages under .250. And Plum finished the second match with 36 assists again.

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

Oregon finished the weekend strong Saturday night against Fresno State. The team regrouped after a 25-21 first set, to finish with a runaway 25-17 and 25-14 second and third sets. The team trailed just twice in the entire match, falling behind early, and tying up the first set at 14. The teams traded the advantage for a bit, but Oregon cruised once they passed the 20-point mark. The Ducks only trailed once each in the second set and third set.

Brenner led the team in kills this set with 13 and Williams gave them a second double-digit killer with 10. The team again had a large lead in blocks, 11.5-to-6 over the Bulldogs. And Amanda Benson, who’s been a revelation at libero, picked up 15 digs. And coach Jim Moore had to be impressed by another win in the errors category, finishing with nine less errors (20-11).

With seven wins under their belt, the Ducks have an 11-day break until their next match. Oregon travels to Corvallis on Sept. 25 to duel with the Beavers in an important rivalry match.

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No. 12 Oregon Ducks Volleyball Sweeps Portland State Vikings

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

No. 12 Oregon Ducks volleyball (3-1) returned from a three-set loss on Saturday to sweep the Portland State Vikings (2-2) in three sets. After a 25-10 set one barrage that was dominated by Liz Brenner, the Ducks faltered but found their way to a 28-26 second set win, cruising to the sweep on a 25-14 set three.

“Game two is our issue. We came out great, did things great, but it’s going to be our issue all year until we fix that,” coach Jim Moore said, adding that the problem is “to think that you can relax. The moment we do that, we’re in trouble.”

Canace Finley and Ariana Williams aided Brenner in pacing the Ducks throughout, although Finley and Williams used far less attempts. Where Brenner had 14 kills against 5 errors on 44 attempts (.205), Finley had just one error and 11 kills on 17 attempts for an insane .588 attack percentage.

“I thought Liz got way too many swings,” Moore said.

Still, Brenner had a lot of kills in crucial spots. As much as it’s the coach’s job to focus on the negatives — something Moore admitted in interviews — Brenner came up big. And as much as the Ducks will face tougher tests than the Vikings, there were times throughout when Brenner looked in midseason form.

The junior had four straight kills that drove a 20-10 game into a 23-10 foregone conclusion. Then, in set two, a game with nine ties and six lead changes, Brenner struggled through a negative attack percentage to come out with three kills and a block. It wasn’t perfect, but one of those three kills gave them a tie at 26, and she followed it up with a fierce block.

Finley though, turned it on in set three. Five of her 11 kills came in the deciding set and she only took 7 attempts at the attack. The sophomore outside hitter from Fort Collins, Colo., was excellent on Saturday, and Moore praised her after the match.

“Canace, I think, has turned a corner,” he said. “She played well Saturday night and tonight she lit it up. She was ridiculously good in practice yesterday, she continues that, we’re going to be good.”

The win sets the Ducks up for a weekend trip to the great state of Michigan for a Friday tilt with the Spartans of Michigan State and a Saturday morning match with the Michigan Wolverines. The loss to Ohio dropped the Ducks from eighth to 12th in the AVCA coaches poll, so they’ll be looking for some big sets on the road in Big 10 country.

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