Lauren Plum

Volleyball Coaching Profile: Jim Moore and Stacy Metro

The Ducks swept the Southern California schoolc this past week, but not in football or basketball; try volleyball. Once the down dog in Pac-12 volleyball, Oregon has risen to the top of the volleyball...

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

 

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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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

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 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.

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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