Tatum Norton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka

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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Photos: Oregon volleyball – Ducks conquer Colorado Buffaloes 3-0

The Oregon Ducks took on the Colorado Buffaloes Friday night in a shut out, winning 3-0. The Ducks look to play Utah on Sunday at 12 p.m., at Matthew Knight Arena.

Ducks Ariana Williams (7) smashes a ball towards Buffaloes outside hitter Kerra Schroeder (6). The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Oregon’s Ariana Williams (7) smashes a ball toward Buffaloes’ outside hitter Kerra Schroeder (6). The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Buffaloes Kerra Schroeder holds off the Oregon attack during the second game of the match. The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Buffaloes’ Kerra Schroeder holds off the Oregon attack during the second game of the match. The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Ducks Martenne Bettendorf (18) smashes a ball successfully past Buffalo defenders. The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Ducks’ Martenne Bettendorf (18) smashes a ball successfully past Buffalo defenders. The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Ducks players Martenne Bettendorf (18) and Tatum Norton (17) sign autographs for fans after a homecoming win. The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Ducks players Martenne Bettendorf (18) and Tatum Norton (17) sign autographs for fans after a homecoming win. The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Oregon coach Jim Moore cracks a smile during his post-game talk with the media. The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Oregon coach Jim Moore cracks a smile during his post-game talk with the media. The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Ducks outside hitter, Martenne Bettendorf (18), talks with media after a 3-0 victory against the Buffaloes. The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

Ducks outside hitter, Martenne Bettendorf (18), talks with media after a 3-0 victory against the Buffaloes. The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

The Oregon Ducks play the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

The Oregon Ducks played the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday, Oct. 18, 2013. (Dominic Allen/Emerald)

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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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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