CORVALLIS, Ore. - The No. 6 University of Oregon volleyball team (25-4, 16-4) clinched a best-ever second-place finish in the Pac-12 Friday night with a straight-set win at Oregon State (14-18, 4-16) in their regular season finale.
The Ducks staked their 18th, 3-0 win of the season, thanks to their 25-12, 25-15, 25-23 decision at Gill Coliseum. The win also stood as Oregon’s 12 in the last 14 matches of the series and raised UO’s all-time advantage in the Civil War to 66-42-1.
UO's runner-up league honor was its best in Pac-12 play and improved upon its fourth-place finishes in 2008, 1989, '87 and '86. Friday's outcome also tied the team's best overall win total (25) since the start of the Pac-12 in 1986, and second-best since the beginning of NCAA play in 1981 (behind its 27-12 mark in 1984).
“We needed to come out focused and be the aggressor early,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “Kat was ridiculously good - she didn't have an error (on 23 attempts) - and we had others carry us at different times, too. Even when Oregon State came out hard in the third set, we were able to battle through it. Our serving was good at times - Liz had some clutch aces at the end that were vital, and Kat and Kellie (Kawasaki) also did well at the line. We passed pretty well, but our communication on defense slipped a little here and there.”
In Friday's team comparisons, UO owned advantages in kills (46-29), hitting (.311-.188), assists (41-29), digs (39-34), aces (8-1) and fewest service errors (5-6), and OSU ended with a 9-7 blocking advantage.
Individually for Oregon, senior outside hitter Katherine Fischer posted a career high hitting mark (.652). Her former career best came two years ago vs. American (.647, 12 kills), and her previous season best (.619, 14K) came in early September’s victory vs. then-No. 10 Kentucky.
Fischer’s 15 kills was her best of the season in a three-set match and second-best overall, and she led the team for the third time on the campaign and 19th time career-wise.
The Los Altos, Calif., native also added two aces to raise her career tally to 112 – still eighth-best all-time for the Ducks.
All-American and redshirt senior outside hitter Alaina Bergsma racked up 11 kills – her 25th straight double-digit kill figure – and added an ace and three blocks.
Sophomore outside hitter Liz Brenner connected on three aces - a team-best for the sixth time this year - and added 11 digs and two blocks.
Senior Haley Jacob led the team in digs (14) for the 23rd time this season and 72nd match career-wise.
Junior middle blocker Ariana Williams landed seven kills and hit .417 – her 14th +.400 mark of the season. On defense, she added a team match-high four blocks to pace the team in the category for the 11th time in ’12.
For OSU, category leaders included Camille Saxton (9 kills), Ashley Eneliko (.438, 9.5 points), Megan McBride (25 assists, 1 ace), Becky Defoe (14 digs) and Arica Nassar (8 blocks).
In the first set, the Ducks used a six-point run to go up 8-2, and added another five-point burst fueled by three of Fischer’s six kills in the set to take a 20-11 advantage. The Ducks hit .303 in the set, while OSU totaled .043 at the end of the 25-12 decision.
In the second set, Fischer added two straight kills to start a four-point burst that ended at 8-4, then repeated the feat again at the end of another four-point streak at 18-13. UO continued to roll offensively with a 7-2 run to end the 25-15 set, and hit .483 for the stanza.
The third set was the tightest of the match. The Beavers lead the initial points, but a six-point Duck surge put UO up 9-4 after a block by Williams and Fischer. The Ducks pushed ahead 15-10, before OSU answered with a 6-2 run to pull within, 17-16. The Beavers then tied matters at 21-21 on a block and forced UO to take its first timeout of the match. After a 22-22 tie, a pair of Brenner aces put UO up 24-22, and Fischer ended the 25-23 finale with a kill.
Also on Friday night, No. 7 UCLA beat No. 4 USC, 3-1, in Westwood to break a tie between the Ducks and Trojans for second place.
In other final-day action in league play, No. 5 Washington swept WSU in Pullman; Utah beat Colorado, 3-1, in Salt Lake City; and No. 2 Stanford won 3-0 at California.
On Sunday, the Ducks look forward to their sixth postseason bid in the tenure of eighth-year head coach Jim Moore.
Collegiate volleyball fans can follow the 64-team NCAA Tournament announcement ESPNU on Sunday at 1 p.m. Pacific Time or online at www.NCAAsports.com.
Next week, 16 sites will host the four-team NCAA First and Second Rounds on Thursday-Sunday, Nov.30–Dec. 2.
In two weeks, the 16 second-round advancers will advance to play in the NCAA Regional third and fourth rounds, Thursday-Saturday, December 6-8 at California, Nebraska, Purdue and Texas. A week later the NCAA Semifinals will be staged in the Louisville, Thursday, December 13, and the final on Saturday, December 15.