Oregon Ducks Volleyball - Page 2

No. 21 Oregon Volleyball Falls to No. 2 Washington in Four Sets

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The No. 2 Washington Huskies defeated Oregon volleyball at Mathew Knight Arena in front of an enthusiastic crowd and harmonious marching band. Attendance reached 4,468 which is the 3rd most packed volleyball contest in Oregon history.

“The band was awesome and the students were awesome,” said Head Coach Jim Moore.

Oregon Ducks Volleyball
The crowd was raucous all night | (Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

In what has become a reoccurring theme for the Ducks, they got off to a slow start. By the time Moore burned his second timeout, Oregon was down 10-4. However, the Ducks responded with a 6-0 run of their own to tie it up. But the Huskies ended up winning the first set 25-23. With such a thin margin, the four to zero service error margin in favor of Washington was critical in ending Oregon’s 15 set win streak.

“We made a lot of errors in game one. Some of that stuff was just silly,” Moore said.

Once again, Washington got off to a hot start, taking a 5-1 lead early on in the second set. One of the highlight plays of set two was courtesy of Tatum Norton. She scampered all the way to the basketball court baseline to retrieve a deflected shot, which was followed by an emphatic kill by Liz Brenner. But the Huskies won set two 25-19 after putting on a dominating defensive performance highlighted by 6.5 blocks. On the other hand, Oregon only had a single block in each of the first two sets.

“We blocked very poorly tonight. You have to maintain pressure the whole time,” Moore said.

The Ducks played their best volleyball of the match at the start of the third set, mixing up setting schemes and placing kills all around the court. Martenne Bettendorf and Brenner really stepped up, each delivering a number of well-placed kills. Oregon had a 16-12 lead but the Huskies roared back with four straight. The madness didn’t begin until Oregon failed to take advantage of their first set point due to a service error committed by Ariana Williams. Then the Huskies managed to block an attempted Bettendorf kill on the Ducks second set point, had a kill of their own on Oregon’s third set point and a miscommunication dig by Oregon on the fourth resulted in another squandered set point. But on lucky number five, Bettendorf “killed” Washington’s shot at a sweep.

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

However, the Ducks couldn’t carry momentum generated from the third set triumph into the fourth. Miscommunication and misplacement defined the final set. The Ducks got demolished 25-8.

“That was really disappointing after being really focused in game three and turn around and not be there,” Moore said.

Despite the loss a few silver linings can be drawn from the performance according to Coach Moore and Brenner.

“If there the second team in the country, we are right there,” said Moore.

Brenner added, “A lot of people played well and we were in every game.”

In particular, Brenner played exceptionally well. She led the team with 22 kills, which was half the amount of kills that the entire Washington team ended up with. Bettendorf added 15 blocks, one more than any husky. However the Ducks’ Achilles heel was blocking. Oregon only had four blocks compared to Washington’s 21.5.

Both Brenner and Moore attribute a lot of the team’s problems to experience.

In comparing this year’s team to last year’s team Brenner said, “Last year we were very consistent. We haven’t reached that level of consistency this year.”

Moore added, “It’s a maturity and leadership thing for sure.”

The Ducks next match will be against the Arizona Wildcats next Friday October fourth in Tucson, Arizona.

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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. 20 Oregon Ducks Volleyball Beats Seattle in Straight Sets

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Oregon Ducks Volleyball
(Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

It was all Oregon early, but the pesky Seattle Redhawks (2-7) wouldn’t go away in the third set. 25-19, 25-12 and finally 25-16 gave No. 20 Oregon Ducks Volleyball (4-3) its fourth win.

Ariana Williams was simply excellent in all three sets. She totaled 11 kills, seven of which came in the third set, but more importantly ended the evening with a .733 attack percentage. I’ve learned that the attack percentage is a lot like baseball’s batting average, so a season average higher than .300 is pretty good and when you double it in a game, that’s superb.

Williams looked the part of an efficient scorer all night.

“Ari’s just good. She hit .733 tonight, she’s just plain good,” coach Jim Moore gushed. “She’s really good. I’ve been encouraged about Ari for a while.”

Williams’ percentage helped Oregon reach a .374 mark for the match. The defense reigned at times when the offense struggled and Oregon had a remarkable 8.0 blocks which forced Seattle into a poor .088 percentage. The team focused on blocking this weekend after a pair of losses in Michigan on Friday and Saturday and it paid dividends.

It seems to be a kills-by-committee approach that’s working at home against some subpar opposition, but might struggle in tenser situations. But it is progress from an error-filled second set against Portland State, and the blocking is huge. Seattle hit .250 in the third set and stayed taut with Oregon in the first few points, but Oregon was still able to pull away.

Oregon Ducks Volleyball
(Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

Oregon trailed just once — 1-0 at the start of the second set — but otherwise was in charge. Of the six ties of the match, three came early in the third set. The second halves of sets were entirely favoring the green-and-yellow, as first Williams, then Liz Brenner, and finally Canace Finley took sets one, two and three, respectively.

“We’ve been practicing it a lot so it feels really good to be finally doing what we’re doing in practice,” Williams said. “I think I open up their game more, because I keep the middle blockers honest.”

Brenner finished with 14 kills and improved to a .458 match kill percentage. Martenne Bettendorf chipped in five kills and Finley had six kills. Finley didn’t play the first set and had just one kill against one error in the second. Five of her six kills came in that third set, where Moore said some of her approach was “funky”, but got the job done.

“Canace did a really good job in that third set. (Setter) Lauren (Plum) showed that she trusted her,” Moore said of Finley. “She didn’t miss the floor tonight and that was good.”

Plum got a standing ovation before the match started when it was announced that her 4,401 assists were an Oregon career record. The senior setter added 43 tonight, of Oregon’s 44 total assists in the match. Her assists per set entering Tuesday night was 12.24, good for fifth in the country right now.

Oregon takes to the road once more this week before the Pac-12 season begins. On Friday and Saturday, Oregon is schedule to play Cal State Bakersfield, Belmont and Fresno State in Fresno, Calif., for the Fresno State Classic. The final match of that action takes place Saturday night, Sept. 14, at 7:30 p.m. before Oregon gets a week-plus-long break. Until Sept. 25, when the Ducks take on the Beavers in Corvallis, they’ll be training in earnest for the tough conference schedule.

“It’s just barely the start of the third week. We got a whole week in between, on purpose.”

Oregon dropped the weekend’s action to Michigan and Michigan State. The Ducks play Cal State Bakersfield at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. The next home match at Matthew Knight Arena is on Friday, Sept. 27, at 8:00 p.m. against the Washington Huskies.

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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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Oregon Ducks Volleyball Sweeps Eastern Washington in 2013 Opener

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Oregon Ducks Volleyball
(Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

The road back to the NCAA women’s volleyball championship, hosted in Seattle this December, began for the Oregon Ducks volleyball team on Friday. The hard-hitting and quick core of Jim Moore‘s Ducks (1-0) took all three sets from the Eastern Washington Eagles (0-1) — easing off the gas pedal a little after taking the first two sets 25-20 and 25-14, but still rolling to a 28-26 third set win.

Martenne Bettendorf set a strong tone, coming into her sophomore season, as she followed up a 26-kill performance in the Green and Yellow scrimmage with 18 kills in the first game of the season. Bettendorf got seven of those kills early on in the first set, but the game gave way to be closer than the score indicated. Though Bettendorf will go a long way to replacing the kills vacated by Miss Oregon Alaina Bergsma‘s departure, Liz Brenner‘s leadership will be crucial.

The junior four-sport athlete from Jesuit High in Portland got the first set’s last three kills to key a 5-1 Oregon run that turned a 20-19 battle into a 25-20 set win.

“At first, we were trying to figure out what they were doing,” Bettendorf told goducks.com after the match. “We’d never seen them play and hadn’t watched any film on them yet. I think we did a good job figuring it out after the first set.”

The match stayed close through the early part of set two as well, but Oregon put together another run — this time scoring eight straight to go up 22-12. In these first two sets, the Ducks put up some ridiculous hitting numbers compared to their Eagle opponents. Oregon’s .405 and .424 marks were not touched by EWU’s .206 and .156 clips, and the Eagles stayed somewhat close thanks to good blocking and unforced errors by the Ducks (through two sets, the Ducks had seven errors and the Eagles had five blocks).

“We gave ’em nine points in game one, so we give them half of that and it’s 25-14,” coach Moore said after the match.

After the intermission, the Eagles stole a 7-2 lead in set three and it looked like the Cheney, Wash., squad would roll to extend the match. The Ducks tied it up at seven, and from there forward, the teams stayed within three points. After five match points, senior setter Lauren Plum got her 42nd assist on a pass to Brenner for her 13th kill and Oregon’s set- and match-winning point.

Plum’s 42 assists were 40 more than any other Duck, 28 more than any Eagle and 10 more than all Eagles combined. She added 14 digs to lead the team in that category as well — that’s her 28th double-double of her career. If Brenner is the shining star of this Duck team, Plum is the cornerstone on which it’s set.

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Lauren Plum Named to Senior CLASS Award Watchlist

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Lauren Plum
Lauren Plum blocks at the net
(Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

Volleyball setter Lauren Plum is one of 30 candidates this fall in women’s volleyball for the Senior CLASS Award. The senior from Poway, Calif., has started just about every match for the Ducks since her freshman year and defines the Oregon attack by leading the team in assists just about every time the Ducks take the hardwood.

Plum was a first-team All-American selection in 2012, and an honorable mention in 2011. As a junior in 2012, she led the country in assists per set by a full assist — 13.36 over the second-place 12.36.

The award is open to senior student athletes in the country who have “achievements” in the categories of community, classroom, character and competition. CLASS stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.

Plum will be an important leader on the volleyball team as one of three seniors, but more importantly will be a co-director for O Heroes.

Midway through the season, the list of 30 will narrow to 10 and those 10 will be voted on.

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Oregon Ducks Volleyball Gets A Look Back in Alumni Game

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Oregon Ducks volleyball
Liz Brenner in the 2013 Alumni Game
(Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

The No. 8 Oregon Ducks volleyball team finished off its preseason exhibition games with a straight-set victory (25-17, 25-16, 25-18) over some familiar foes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday. The Ducks and head coach Jim Moore took it to the Alumni Team.

“I’ve never gotten to be as involved with the alumni as I am here, and this is very special to me,” Moore said.

Leading the impressive list of alumni was Alaina Bergsma, former Miss Oregon and winner of last year’s AVCA National Player of the Year Award. Bergsma is currently training with USA Volleyball, but was able to make the trip home to see her old teammates. She finished the game with a match-high three blocks, two of which were solo.

“It was really fun being back, it’s definitely a comfortable place,” Bergsma said. “It was fun seeing everyone and seeing how much better they’ve gotten during the spring.”

With exhibition matches now over, the Ducks embark on the 2013 season beginning Friday August, 30 against Eastern Washington in the Oregon Classic.

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University of Oregon May Add Sand Volleyball to Current Sports

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University of Oregon
Sand Volleyball

As reported by Andrew Greif of the Oregonian, the University of Oregon athletic department is considering adding sand volleyball to its current list of varsity sports.

“From my perspective, I think (adding sand volleyball) is a no-brainer,” said Lisa Peterson, University of Oregon’s associate athletic.

Sand volleyball has seen an emergence in popularity over the past decade due in large part to the success of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings who have absolutely dominated the sport for three Olympics.

“Having so many schools in the Pac-12 that want to do it, either are doing it or are about to, that’s really enticing,” said Peterson to Greif, adding that adding sand volleyball would be beneficial for recruiting. “… This league is so good in volleyball, you don’t ever want to fall behind that.”

And it doesn’t sound like it’d be much of a struggle to add the new sport. In fact, it’d be relatively easy.

“It’s fairly simple to add,” Peterson said. “It’s pretty inexpensive, it’s pretty easy for schools to do it at a time when we don’t have a ton of resources.”

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Photos: 2013 Oregon Ducks Volleyball Exhibition

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The 2013 Oregon Ducks Volleyball team showcased its merit and top-10 ranking on Saturday in an exhibition. The Ducks return nearly every starter from last season and should very well be in contention to compete for a national championship. Here are photos from last night’s exhibition.