Oregon Ducks Volleyball - Page 3

Oregon Ducks Volleyball Ranked Preseason No. 8

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Oregon Ducks Volleyball
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Oregon Ducks Volleyball was recently picked to finish fourth by Pac-12 coaches, sparking some curiosity considering the Ducks’ strong finish in 2012 and the players they have coming back.

Well, the release of the national poll shows that despite being fourth in the conference, that still has some pretty high baring nationally.

Four Pac-12 teams are ranked in the top-8 of the AVCA Preseason Poll and five in the top-12 nationally. The Pac-12 Conference has always been king for volleyball, and 2013 doesn’t appear to be any different.

Oregon returns Lauren PlumLiz Brenner and National Player of the Year Alaina Bergsma, along with numerous other contributors.

Head coach Jim Moore may have his strongest team yet, and there’s no reason to think the Ducks won’t be right back in the hunt for a national championship.

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Oregon Ducks Volleyball Picked Fourth by Pac-12 Coaches

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Oregon Ducks Volleyball
Oregon Ducks Volleyball
(Alex Shoemaker/Eugene Daily News)

Despite playing Texas in the national championship game last year, and returning two all-Americans, Oregon Ducks volleyball was recently picked to finish just fourth in the Pac-12 this fall. Such is the life in America’s best volleyball conference.

Duck Swiss Army Knife Liz Brenner finished on the second-team after ranking second on the team in kills and points to one Ms. Alaina Bergsma — 2012’s player of the year. She also ranked second in digs to Haley Jacob, a senior on the team who outdug her by more than 200. Now she returns to a team that will be replacing two senior outside hitters, Bergsma and Kat Fischer, and steps to the forefront of the line opposite senior Ariana Williams and sophomore Canace Finley.

Steady setter Lauren Plum was a full head and shoulders above anyone else in the nation at her position last year. She takes the stage her senior year in position to leave a mark on the all-time Pac-12 record books for assists, as well as commanding the quick Duck offense. With a pair of seniors graduating last year at the libero position, Jacob and Kellie Kawasaki, Plum’s role becomes crucial in the Duck backcourt.

Plum finished first-team all-American last year.

So there’s a lot of talent returning on both sides of the court. The obvious question is how this team that returns so much from a national championship run is fourth in conference.

The easy answer is that they weren’t first in the conference last year, riding a successful string of wins through the tournament. Stanford took the championship in 2012 and their 10 first-place votes helped them to 120 points in this poll. USC was in second with 111, Washington had 99 and Oregon (91) was ahead of UCLA in fifth place by 15 points.

Oregon has never started the season projected higher than fourth, though coach Jim Moore‘s teams have met or exceeded expectations in six of his eight seasons coaching.

Brenner and Plum made the preseason all-Pac-12 team, helping Oregon join Stanford, USC and Washington as the only teams with more than one player on the list.

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Oregon Ducks Volleyball Seeks New Announcer

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Oregon Ducks Volleyball
Oregon Ducks Volleyball

The departure of Pit Crew favorite Malachi Williams will leave a big void in talent at Oregon Ducks Volleyball matches next year. His voice echoed from the friendly confines of PK Park, he joined the Pit at Matt Knight when it was time to announce the student fan of the game, and he called volleyball matches on their run to title contention last year.

With Mal gone, the UO needs a new voice to call the high-flying, fast-paced action of Oregon women’s volleyball. The team returns the talents of jack of all trades Liz Brenner and steady setter Lauren Plum, and has open applications for the position of announcer.

Candidates can send a resume and mp3 samples to [email protected] by Monday, August 5. The UO will provide sample audition scripts for the application process, while the final audition will consist of two candidates selected to call the “Green and Yellow” game — aka, the volleyball team’s spring game.

Mal will be missed, but the new UO volleyball season must go on.

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Oregon Volleyball Live Blog (Link)

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Ducks
(GoDucks.com)

The Oregon Ducks volleyball team will look to earn their first national title in school history when they take on the Texas Longhorns in Louisville on Saturday night. The Ducks are looking to cap off their most successful season in school history, winning 30 games for the first time ever.

The Ducks fast paced offense is led by setter Lauren Plum. The junior from Poway, California leads the nation with 13.25 assists per set.

The Texas Longhorns, one of the most impressive programs in all of volleyball wants its first title since 1988. Both these programs have worked so hard and overcome huge odds to make it this far.

Starring for Oregon is the nation’s best volleyball player, Alaina Bergsma. How will the Ducks respond to the pressure of playing in its first ever national championship game? You can get all the coverage via our CoverItLive link.

 

FOLLOW THE GAME LIVE HERE

 

 
You can follow this live stream throughout Oregon’s run for a national championship. Will the University of Oregon win its second national championship this 2012-13 school year? Find out.

http://youtu.be/rQZfC2g1taI

Oregon Sweeps Dayton, Advances to Sweet 16

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In the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament on Friday, the University of Dayton volleyball team lost their first two sets to Pepperdine, then staged a miracle comeback after halftime to win the game, 3-2.  So last night when Dayton kicked off its second round matchup against Oregon by losing the first two sets – by the exact same scores as the night before, no less – some small part of every spectator in attendance had to be wondering if history was about to repeat itself.

Unfortunately for the Flyers and their fans, the Ducks were not reading from the same script.  Instead of bearing witness a second improbable Dayton victory, the fans at Matthew Knight Arena were treated to yet another 3-0 blowout victory by the hometown Ducks.

When asked to deliver some opening remarks at the postgame press conference, Oregon head coach Jim Moore opted for a bit of deadpan instead.  “I don’t really have a statement,” he began.  “Um, yay.”

In a way, Moore’s understatement was the perfect summation of his team’s season to date.  When a team wins 80.6% of its sets, leads the country in offense, throttles its opponents to such a degree that sportswriters wear out thesauruses in a fruitless search for new ways to say “dominating,” and plays at such a high level that extraordinary performances are the rule and not the exception, “yay” is as good a way to put it as any.

Rather unjustly lost in all the excitement for the Ducks is that the Flyers put in one hell of a performance.  Had they played nearly any other team in the country last night, they’d be making hotel reservations in Omaha for the Sweet 16, right now, instead of commiserating with one another on the long trip back to Ohio.

“There were some plays in the first four points [where] I knew it was going to be a bad night for Dayton,” said Moore.  “In the first four points there were, all four of those balls could have landed and not one of them landed… It was just unbelievable anticipation [by Oregon] and just absolute being ready.”

The first set got off to a promising start for both teams, with each squad aggressively blocking attacks at the net and making cat-quick digs and attacks all over the court. However, only the Ducks’ point total seemed to benefit at the end of every volley, and in record time they built themselves a solid 18-7 lead.  Flyers outside hitter Rachel Krabacher and setter Samantha Selsky soon redoubled their offensive efforts in an attempt to fight their way back into the game, but were only able to close within eight points before the Ducks coasted to a 25-15 win, thanks in no small part to a six-kill effort by outside hitter Liz Brenner.

“Liz was on right from the beginning,” said Moore afterwards.  “[The] first couple swings, I went ‘uh-oh’ because when Liz gets it right directly over her right shoulder, that’s when she can bring it, and no one likes playing defense when she can do that.”

Not to be outdone, Brenner’s teammate and fellow outside hitter Alaina Bergsma took over in the second set, earning eight kills in all.  This time around, the Flyers were able to close within two points of the Ducks at 19-17, but despite a phenomenal effort by Krabacher, who scored five kills by herself in the penultimate set, the visitors were once again unable to slow Oregon down before their host secured the win, 25-20.

Dayton’s best performance of the day – in terms of scoreboard results, at any rate – didn’t occur until after halftime.  After failing to force even one tie in the first two sets, the third began with no less than eight tie scores and two lead changes, but only up until the 11-11 mark.  After that, Oregon once again took control of the game (Brenner and Bergsma were both responsible for five kills apiece) and soon had the set and the match sewn up by a final score of 25-28.

Next up, Oregon has the next few days off before the team has to fly to Omaha to play 16th-ranked BYU in the next round of the NCAA Tournament.

DAYTON K E ATT PCT AST SA SE RE DIG BS BA BE PTS
S. Brown 4 4 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 4.5
M. Campbell 3 2 13 0.077 0 0 0 0 3 0 1 1 3.5
I. Hannan 4 2 12 0.167 0 0 0 0 1 2 2 0 7
R. Krabacher 16 4 51 0.235 1 2 2 1 9 0 1 0 18.5
S. Selsky 6 0 10 0.6 27 0 1 0 7 0 0 0 6
P. Vargas 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 9 0 0 0 0
J. Krafka 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 11 0 0 0 0
A. Morey 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 5 0 0 0 1
A. Turner 2 4 15 -0.133 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 2.5
TEAM 35 16 110 .173 34 3 3 3 46 2 6 1 43.0
OREGON K E TA PCT A SA SE RE DIG BS BA BE PTS
A. Bergsma 16 5 46 0.239 1 1 1 0 5 1 3 0 19.5
L. Brenner 13 2 24 0.458 1 0 1 0 8 1 3 1 15.5
C. Finley 7 0 11 0.636 0 0 0 0 1 1 4 0 10
K. Fischer 8 1 20 0.35 1 0 1 3 7 0 0 2 8
L. Plum 3 1 5 0.4 41 1 3 0 12 0 0 1 4
A. Williams 6 2 14 0.286 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 0 8
H. Jacob 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 16 0 0 0 1
K. Kawasaki 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM 53 11 120 .350 46 3 7 3 50 4 12 4 66.0



Oregon Defeats Northern Colorado in First Round of NCAA Tournament, 3-0

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The University of Northern Colorado’s volleyball team was recently crowned champion of the Big Sky Conference, but last night at Matthew Knight Arena they were little more than a speed bump as the 5th-seed Ducks cruised to a 3-0 victory in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.  Aside from being their 19th sweep of the season, the game also marked the first time that Oregon has enjoyed home court advantage in the postseason in nearly three decades.

More impressively, they were able to pull off the win with almost no foreknowledge of their opponent.

“We only had one game on them, so we had the last match they played against Idaho State,” explained Ducks outside hitter and Pac-12 player of the year Alaina Bergsma in a press conference following the game. “Only watching one match, you try to pick up tendencies, but you don’t find out a whole ton.”

The Ducks have led the nation this season in kills per set and assists per set, but they’ve also had a bad habit of getting off to sluggish starts in their games.  This time around, however, they were able to play at full speed without their customary warm-up period.

But while their initial burst of quickness in the first set helped Oregon build a quick lead, the team also played sloppily in the early going.  The Bears were able to tie the score at 10-10 and again at 11-11, but six of those first 11 points were gifted to them by Ducks errors.  After that, the home team cleaned up its technique and scored nine straight points en route to a 25-14 finish, including three aces by Kellie Kawasaki, who also played superbly on defense throughout the evening as a sub for starting libero Haley Jacob.

“Kellie came in and had that run… we went from 11-11 to 25-14, and Kel sparked that,” said Oregon head coach Jim Moore.  “For me, it’s pretty special that Kel has accepted that role and taken that role on.  She could be the starting libero for a whole lot of teams in this country, and she comes in and serves and scores a lot of points.”

In the second set, the Ducks rapidly built up a strong lead, 16-9.  The team’s offensive efforts in the first set were dominated largely by Bergsma and outside hitter Liz Brenner, but this time around scoring was much more of a group effort, with Bergsma, Brenner, middle blockers Ariana Williams and Canace Finley all contributing multiple kills.

Midway through the set, the Bears’ put together their first sustained scoring effort of the game, thanks in no small part to their star hitter Kelly Arnold, who ended the night as the team leader in kills (11) and total points (12).  But despite Arnold’s productivity, Northern Colorado was only able to narrow the scoring gap to 20-18 before Oregon pulled away for good and took the set, 25-19.

“We knew that they were going to rely on number seventeen, Kelly Arnold,” said Bergsma.  “She did a pretty good job, but I think we slowed her down and that really helped us.”

The Bears enjoyed their only lead of the night at the beginning of set three. Granted, they only led because they scored the first point of the set thanks to a service error by Oregon setter Lauren Plum, and the lead only lasted for one volley before the Ducks rapidly built a 12-6, but a lead is a lead.  A lapse in concentration by the Ducks’ hitters led to a string of attack errors that whittled the scoring gap down to 13-11 and nearly allowed Northern Colorado back into the game, but the Bears proved unable to capitalize on the opportunity.  Not long thereafter, the Ducks regained their focus and overpowered their way to a 25-18 finish, with the deciding point being scored off an ace by libero Haley Jacob.

Afterwards, Moore was all too happy to take the win, but nevertheless expressed some concern with his players’ occasionally uneven performance throughout.  “I think we can play at a higher level,” he began.  “It may be nitpicking, but I’m not interested in [just] winning the first round.  I don’t mean to sound arrogant or cocky or anything, but I think they’re really good and I think we need to play that way every single second.”

Later today, Moore’s players will get an opportunity to meet his expectations when they square off for an NCAA second round match up against the University of Dayton, who earlier in the evening mounted a come-from-behind victory over the Pepperdine Waves, 3-2.  The game will begin at 8:00 at Matthew Knight Arena.

OREGON SETS K E ATT PCT AST SA SE RE DIG BS BA BE BHE PTS
A. Bergsma 3 15 1 29 0.483 2 1 3 0 6 0 2 1 0 17
L. Brenner 3 9 4 26 0.192 0 1 2 3 13 1 1 0 0 11.5
C. Finley 3 6 2 9 0.444 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 8
K. Fischer 3 5 1 17 0.235 0 0 0 0 5 0 1 0 0 5.5
L. Plum 3 3 3 8 0 40 0 2 0 5 0 0 0 0 3
A. Williams 3 9 2 14 0.5 0 0 0 0 2 0 4 0 0 11
S. Ashen 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
M. Bettendorf 2 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.5
N. B-gonzalez 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
C. Defelice 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
H. Jacob 3 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 10 0 0 0 0 1
K. Kawasaki 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 0 6 0 0 0 0 3
M. Magee 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.5
T. Norton 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM 3 47 13 107 .318 44 6 8 3 48 2 12 1 0 61.0
N. COLORADO SETS K E ATT PCT AST SA SE RE DIG BS BA BE BHE PTS
K. Arnold 3 11 2 35 .257 1 1 1 0 5 0 0 0 0 12.0
T. Haddock 3 6 6 36 .000 0 1 1 1 13 0 2 0 0 8.0
M. Hughes 3 5 1 6 .667 18 0 0 0 3 0 1 1 0 5.5
A. Spaustat 3 2 3 11 -.091 1 0 0 0 3 0 2 1 0 3.0
B. Strong 2 0 3 5 -.600 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0.5
A. Wilson 3 2 1 7 .143 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2.0
B. Crenshaw 1 1 0 3 .333 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.0
K. Cunningham 1 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
M. Garcia 3 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0 1 12 0 0 0 0 0.0
A. Hutcheson 2 0 0 0 .000 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.0
M. Johnson 3 0 0 0 .000 1 1 1 3 4 0 0 0 0 1.0
TEAM 3 27 16 103 .107 22 3 3 6 42 0 6 2 0 33.0

 

Ducks Gear Up for Postseason Run with Sweep of Bruins

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On paper, the No. 6 Oregon volleyball squad’s 3-0 defeat of 7th-ranked UCLA at Matthew Knight Arena was not their finest hour. The neck-and-neck set scores from the game – 26-24, 25-23, and 25-21 – look rather lackluster when compared to the double-digit margins of victory the Ducks posted in several of their other wins this season, and their performance in the game was marred by multiple errors.

Oregon outside hitter #12 Katherine Fischer gets ready to attack while UCLA setter #5 Becca Strehlow and middle blocker #13 Zoe Nightingale prepare to block (Matthew Heuett/Eugene Daily News)

But coming as it does at the tail end of a difficult month which has seen Oregon lose three of its last seven matches, defeating UCLA may well prove to be one of the team’s most important wins of the season. After all, it’s one thing to annihilate a top-ranked opponent early in the season when you’re firing on all cylinders, but discovering that you have the talent and resilience to edge out a formidable adversary later on when you aren’t playing your best is the sort of confidence booster that turns great teams into championship contenders.

“This was difficult,” said Oregon head coach Jim Moore afterwards. “Driving back all [Saturday] night after Pullman [Washington] . . . we didn’t really do very much yesterday, just kind of handled the ball – no team stuff, we just talked about what we needed to do and just handled the ball a little bit. This was tough, and they pulled it off, so I’m happy for them.”

“We actually said ‘there’s no way we’re out of here in three,’ so we’re definitely excited,” said outside hitter Alaina Bergsma. “We knew it was going to be really close matches. They have a really good team, and we’re just happy to come away with a W.”

For the senior classmen on the team, the game was also the final regular season match of their college careers. To mark the occasion, Bergsma along with libero Haley Jacob, defensive specialist Kellie Kawasaki, and outside hitter Katherine Fischer were honored in a pre-game senior night ceremony in which each player was accompanied out onto the court by their parents and presented with a bouquet of Ducks-yellow flowers by coach Moore while the fans in attendance cheered their appreciation.

“I think we were all trying to not be emotional because of our senior night,” admitted Bergsma, “[so] we maybe relaxed a little instead of getting our same fight and energy that we normally come out with.”

Whatever the reason, the Ducks got off to a sluggish start, which the Bruins took full advantage of by jumping out to a quick 3-8 lead. However, after one of Coach Moore’s patented back-to-back timeout talks with his players (“I’ve got a little program that tells me to do that,” joked Moore), the Ducks soon fought their way back to an 11-11 tie.

From that point on, the set became a back-and-forth brawl featuring no less than five lead changes and eleven tie scores, the last coming at 24-24. Bruins outside hitter Tabi Love, who made life difficult for the Ducks all night long with her hitting prowess, had the dubious honor of being the lead scorer for both teams in the first set, earning 11 points for UCLA and giving away 5 to Oregon via errors.

Oregon players look on as the Bruins go through warmup drills before the start of the game (Matthew Heuett/Eugene Daily News)

Love and her teammates kept up the pressure in set two, but this time a strong hitting effort by Bergsma kept the visiting team from securing an early lead. Her assault was soon bolstered by scoring attacks from outside hitters Fischer and Liz Brenner and middle blocker Ariana Williams, but the Bruins gave as good as they got. The Ducks held the lead more often than their opponent, but not by much and rarely by more than two points before they were finally able to take the set thanks to a trio of kills by Fischer.

By contrast to the first two sets, UCLA never once held the lead in the third, but nevertheless still managed to keep the score close throughout largely on the strength of attacks by Love, outside hitter Rachael Kidder, and middle blocker Zoe Nightingale. Unfortunately for the Bruins, their best efforts were unable to match up to those of Bergsma, who appeared to have identified a weakness in visiting team’s defense just in front of the rear line of defenders and attacked it relentlessly. UCLA was able to tie the score late at 19-19, but was ultimately unable to prevent Oregon from taking the set not long thereafter.

Next up, the Ducks will travel up I-5 on Friday to face Oregon State in Corvallis for their regular season finale. After that, the games for the first round of the NCAA Division-I Tournament will be held between November 29th and December 2nd, but the brackets (and therefore who and where the Ducks will play next) have yet to be determined.

Golden Bears Upset Ducks, 3-2

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Headed into the first weekend of November, the game on every Oregon volleyball fan’s mind was the rematch with No. 1 Stanford on Sunday, and with good reason. After all, the Cardinals were the team that ended the Ducks’ undefeated streak a month ago and caused them to lose their No. 2 national ranking.

Oregon middle blocker #5 Canace Finley makes a last-second deflection of an attack. Also pictured is outside hitter #2 Alaina Bergsma (Matthew Heuett/Eugene Daily News)

Compared to that impending grudge match, the game against California scheduled for that Friday seemed almost beneath notice. The unranked Golden Bears, in the midst of an uneven 11-11 season, were surely going to be unable to put up much of a fight against a home team with a 20-1 record that had recently fought its way back into the #2 spot. In short, California was doomed to be the sideshow to Stanford’s center ring, the appetizer to Stanford’s main course.

However, it would seem that someone forgot to tell that to California’s players, who cheered jubilantly on the court after pulling off a huge underdog win while green and yellow-clad fans began to glumly file their way out of Matthew Knight Arena.

Afterwards, head coach Jim Moore seemed understandably reticent to talk at length about the loss. “Real disappointing,” he said after a long pause. “I don’t know what else to say other than real disappointing.”

Given his team’s lethargic performance, particularly early in the game, Moore’s frustration is easy to understand. In the first two sets, California was able to jump out to a quick lead before coasting to wins, 17-25 and 21-25, respectively. Even more frustratingly, the Ducks gift-wrapped over a third of their opponent’s points in both sets, giving up ten points off errors in the first set and twelve in the second. Meanwhile, Bears outside hitters Christina Higgins and Adrienne Gehan made life miserable for Oregon’s defenders by powering attacks past blockers almost at will.

“We just didn’t come out fully ready to go tonight,” offered outside hitter Liz Brenner. “Pretty much every aspect [of our play] was a little shaky. The first couple games, we weren’t connecting with Lauren [Plum] very well, and that’s hard to run an offense when your hitters and setters aren’t connecting.”

After halftime, the Ducks returned to the court with renewed purpose. In particular, the improved accuracy of Brenner and fellow outside hitter Alaina Bergsma provided a spark that resulted in back-to-back wins in the next two sets, 25-22 and 25-19. For their part, the Golden Bears refused to dial back on the pressure, forcing Oregon to earn every last point. The fourth set was particularly hard-fought, with possession of serve changing seventeen straight times to begin the set.

California outside hitter #23 Christina Higgins prepares to launch an attack, while Oregon setter #4 Lauren Plum leaps to block (Matthew Heuett/Eugene Daily News)

But even though Oregon was able to give the home crowd glimpses of its usual frenetic, score-inflating offensive pace through most of the penultimate set, by the midpoint of the fifth set they had returned to the mistake-prone play with which they’d dug themselves into a hole in the first place. A few errors later, the Bears clinched the fifth set 13-15, and the usually raucous Matthew Knight Arena crowd was rendered mute.

Still, as tough as this loss may have been, afterwards the Ducks were uniform in their insistence that they would put the defeat behind them in time to play Stanford.

“Nebraska we all know last week lost to [Ohio State] and turned around and beat Penn State,” said Bergsma, referring to the #4 Cornhuskers’ defeat of the then-#1 Nittany Lions after suffering a loss two days earlier to the 18-7 Buckeyes. “So I guess that’s our plan.”

No. 2 Oregon Volleyball Set to Square Off With No. 1 Stanford

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The No. 2 Oregon volleyball team will try and improve upon their record setting season this Sunday at 1 p.m. when the No. 1 Stanford Cardinal come to town. Oregon (20-2, 11-2) is off to their best start in school history, and could jump Stanford (20-2, 12-0) in the polls should they take care of business this weekend.

Head Coach Jim Moore did his best Chip Kelly impersonation when talking about the upcoming matchup. Both coaches will lead their No. 2 ranked teams into battle in what is a huge weekend for Oregon sports.

“We can’t worry about whether it’s one against two; we have to take care of what we have to do to beat Stanford, and what we have to do for each individual play,” said Moore in an interview with Addicted to Quack.

The highly anticipated matchup will be the first meeting of top ranked schools in Eugene’s history, and if the season up to this point has been any indication, Matthew Knight Arena will be rocking.

“When we won set one (last home game against Washington), that may be the loudest reaction I’ve heard in any match, and I’ve been in basketball games – it was loud,” said Moore to ATQ. “Students this year have been different for sure.”

Students can get in for free, while families can take advantage of a special $12 BiMart Ticket Deal in which youth are invited to a free post-match clinic with the UO players.

For the Ducks, they will aim for their third straight upset of the nation’s No. 1 team. Until last year when they defeated UCLA at home and Penn State on the road, Oregon had never defeated a top-ranked opponent.

Oregon lost 3-2 at Stanford earlier in the year and trails the all-time series 54-4. However, don’t write off the Ducks just yet, they are on a six-game winning steak and will get the Cardinal at home after battling them close in Palo Alto on Oct. 5.

Both defenses have been outstanding this season, with the Cardinal leading the league in lowest opponent hitting percentage (.164) and the Ducks holding their opponents to under .200 in 15 of their 21 matches. Come 1 p.m. Sunday, one side will have to give into the other.

All-American senior outside hitter Alaina Bergsma will look to stay hot for the Ducks after leading the team in kills in each of the last two wins. She will have a tough matchup against Stanford’s talented middle blockers Carly Wopat and Inky Ajanaku, both of whom rank in the top 20 nationally in blocks.

The Ducks must remain weary in not looking too far ahead, though. They play Cal at 6p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday. Fans who wear pink can get $3 G.A. tickets. The Ducks won the previous match in Berkley 3-1.

Both matches against the Bay Area schools can be seen live on the Oregon TV Network.

Oregon Volleyball Ends Washington’s Undefeated Streak, 3-1

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Oregon outside hitter #2 Alaina Bergsma aims an attack between the blocks of Washington outside hitter #11 Gabbi Parker and middle blocker #2 Kelcey Dunaway in the third set (Matthew Heuett/Eugene Daily News)

Two weeks ago, Washington and Oregon were tied for 2nd place in the AVCA polls thanks to their undefeated records. Not long thereafter the Ducks lost their first game of the season, dropping them three places in the rankings and leaving their conference rivals with the distinction of being the last remaining undefeated team in the nation.

As it turns out, Washington’s streak didn’t have long to live. When the Huskies arrived in Eugene Saturday night, the Ducks took the opportunity to share their pain with their Pac-12 adversary by hand-delivering them their first loss, 3-1.

And all it took to pull it off was a paltry combined seven lead changes, nineteen tie scores, 149 points, and 295 attacks.

It was pretty much a dogfight,” head coach Jim Moore said after the game. “I thought we were out of it . . . we were horrible in game two, and in the middle of game three I was like, I didn’t know how it was as close as it was, ‘cause we were ugly. But then, you know, somehow they just dug deep and came back and turned it around.”

The frenetic pitch of the game was firmly established in the opening volleys of the first set. After a tight back-and-forth struggle through the first twelve points of the game, Washington began to build up a comfortable six point lead thanks to the blocking prowess of their front row and a pair of aces served by setter Katy Beals. Huskies middle blocker Amanda Gil received the lion’s share of the blocking credit on the stat sheet for the game, but the effort was a collaborative one between Gil, fellow middle blocker Kelcey Dunaway, and outside hitters Kaleigh Nelson and Kylin Muñoz.

To their credit, Oregon managed to fight their way back into the game and gradually chip away at Washington’s lead – so gradually, in fact, that they didn’t manage to tie the score until late in the set, 24-24. Moments later, the Ducks capped off their 26-24 comeback win when outside hitter Alaina Bergsma and middle blocker Ariana Williams scored a kill apiece to deafening choruses of cheers from the fans in attendance.

Washington setter #7 Katy Beals prepares to feed the ball to middle blocker #1 Amanda Gil during the second set (Matthew Heuett/Eugene Daily News)

Washington returned the favor in the second set. After trailing for the majority of the set, the Huskies’ blockers once again took control and in short order had frustrated the Ducks’ hitters, who began to play more recklessly as they watched attack after attack turn into points for their opponent.

It wasn’t long before a string of kills by outside hitter Krista Vansant had the sizeable contingent of Washington fans in attendance trying their level best to match the volume of the Ducks fans’ celebration after the first set (for the record, they fell well short of the requisite decibel level, but not for lack of trying).

“We just started setting the ball tight and low,” said Moore. “Part of it was the hitters as well, but we got way out of synch, and then we’re going to get blocked.”

After a brief intermission involving the usual semi-embarrassing competitions inflicted on random spectators, the teams returned to the court to play what may very well have been the most exciting, high-intensity set the Ducks have played at home all season long. Washington got the party started with a blitz of kills and blocks that had Oregon’s defenders scrambling all over the court just to keep up. A two-pronged attack led by outside hitters Bergsma and Katherine Fischer on the periphery of the Huskies’ court held the point gap to a manageable three to four points in the early going, but it would have been for naught had Moore not called two key timeouts in the latter part of the game to settle his players and make some adjustments.

“All we kept saying was ‘calm down, refocus, go,’” said Moore. “You’ve got to focus on the play that’s in front of you, you can’t worry about what’s behind you.”

Whatever he said to them, one of his star hitters clearly took his message to heart. Of the last seven points scored by the Ducks en route to a 25-22 finish, five were off of kills by Bergsma.

“Our offense was getting a little bit slower in the second set,” explained Bergsma afterwards, “and the sets were high… [so] by bringing it back down we were able to beat the block by just being fast.”

Oregon libero #9 Haley Jacob dives low for a dig in the first set. Attacking for Washington is outside hitter #8 Cassie Strickland (Matthew Heuett/Eugene Daily News)

By comparison to the third set, the fourth was almost a denouement. Washington still managed to earn multiple points off of blocks, but Oregon soon countered that by speeding up the already breakneck pace of their offense.

Outside hitters Bergsma, Fischer, and Liz Brenner did their usual great job of racking up points off kills, but the offensive efforts of Williams deserve special attention. For whatever reason, her twisting, low-elevation attack style seemed to give the Huskies a great deal of trouble no matter which part of the net she contested. Including the final score in the Ducks’ 25-17 victory in the fourth set, a full two-thirds of Williams’ eighteen attacks resulted in points for her team.

“It feels really good to come back,” said Williams after the game. “We were kind of out of rhythm and down after Stanford, and now we’re back in rhythm and doing really well.”

Next up, the Ducks will enjoy a few days’ respite before traveling to play No. 35 Arizona State on Friday the 19th and Arizona State on Saturday the 20th.

SET SCORES  1 2 3 4 Team Record
Wash (1) 24 25 22 17 16-1 (7-1)
Oregon (3) 26 20 25 25 16-1 (7-1)

 

Wash

                   
  K E TA Pct Ast Dig BS BA BE Pts
A. Gil 6 2 15 0.267 0 1 0 14 0 13
K. Dunaway 2 1 5 0.200 0 0 0 5 1 5.5
K. Beals 0 0 0 0.000 25 4 0 0 0 3
C. Strickland 3 0 12 0.250 0 10 0 0 0 3
K. Vansant 14 2 36 0.333 0 6 0 2 2 15
K. Munoz 10 2 27 0.296 0 3 0 8 0 14
J. Orlandini 0 20 0 0.000 0 15 0 0 0 0
K. Nelson 10 4 25 0.240 0 0 0 4 0 12
J. Nogueras 0 0 0 0.000 22 2 0 0 0 0
L. Sybeldon 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0 0 0
G. Parker 6 1 18 0.278 0 1 0 5 0 8.5
TEAM 51 12 139 0.281 47 42 0 38 3 74
                     

Oregon

                   
  K E TA Pct Ast Dig BS BA BE Pts
A. Bergsma 23 7 46 0.348 0 8 0 0 0 23
L. Plum 1 0 3 0.333 57 10 0 0 1 2
C. Finley 4 2 7 0.286 0 0 0 1 0 4.5
L. Brenner 14 8 34 0.176 3 7 1 2 0 16
A. Williams 12 4 18 0.444 0 1 0 2 0 13
K. Fischer 12 2 37 0.270 1 9 1 0 0 13
N. B-Gonzalez 0 1 1 -1.000 1 0 0 0 0 0
K.Kawasaki 0 0 0 0.000 0 2 0 0 0 2
H. Jacob 0 0 0 0.000 0 26 0 0 0 1
M. Magee 0 0 0 0.000 0 1 0 1 0 0.5
S. Ashen 0 0 0 0.000 0 0 0 0 0 0
T. Norton 0 0 0 0.000 0 2 0 0 0 0
TEAM 66 24 146 0.288 62 66 2 6 1 75