EUGENE - Adding another memorable chapter to their all-time series, the No. 5 University of Oregon volleyball team (16-1, 7-1) topped the nation's last unbeaten team with its 3-1 win over No. 2 Washington (16-1, 7-1) Saturday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
In front of 3,978 fans (the second-biggest Duck volleyball crowd ever), UO won the back-and-forth battle by a 26-24, 20-25, 25-22, 25-17 score, and staked a win in the series for the fourth straight season.
"It was a dog fight, and I thought we were out of it," Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. "In game 2 we fell apart, and we also looked ugly in the third set - but somehow we dug deep and came back. UW deserves credit - they blocked a lot of balls. Part of it was that we set the ball low and tight, and part of it was the hitters, too, but regardless we were out of rhythm. Finally, we got refocused and calmed down and worried about the play ahead of us. However, it's just one win, and there are a lot of games left."
All-American and senior outside hitter Alaina Bergsma carried the team when she needed to, and led UO in kills (23) and points for the 10th and 11th times in 2012, respectively, and also came up with eight digs.
"Our passing and offense slowed down the second set," Bergsma said, "so we had to calm down and take it one play at a time. The crowd was great, and really helped us come back when we needed to. It was a total team effort - we had a lot of different players step up at key times and put balls down when we needed it."
The balanced Duck offense also featured three more hitters with +10 kills, and two with +.270 hitting marks.
Junior middle blocker Ariana Williams landed 12 kills, hit .444 - her ninth +.400 total of the season - and added two blocks.
"It wasn't pretty there for a while, but we hung in there," Williams said. "Pac-12 matches against good teams can get emotional, so we had to calm down after the second set, and that helped us get our rhythm back."
Senior outside hitter Katherine Fischer added 12 kills - her 10th double-digit kill total - hit .270, and added nine digs.
Sophomore outside hitter Liz Brenner connected on 14 kills - her 13th double-digit effort the last 15 matches - and added seven digs and three blocks.
Junior setter Lauren Plum logged 57 assists - her second-highest tally in a non-five-set match behind her 64 at Ohio in September. She added an ace and 10 digs for her fourth double-double of the season and 23rd career-wise.
On defense, senior libero Haley Jacob top the team in digs (26) for the 13th time this year, and claimed her fifth +20 dig total of 2012 and 19th career-wise. Senior back-court mate Kellie Kawasaki topped the team in aces (2) for the fourth time this year.
In the team comparisons, the Ducks owned advantages in hitting (.288-.281), assists (62-47), fewest service errors (7-14) and digs (66-42); the two teams tied in aces (4-4); and the Huskies staked a notable blocks edge (19.0-5.0).
UW category leaders included Krista Vansant (14 kills, .333, 15 points), setter Katy Beals (25 assists), libero Jenna Orlandi (15 digs), middle blocker Amanda Gil (14 blocks), and setter Katy Beals (3 aces).
In this week's national rankings, UW stood third nationally in hitting (.314), but its output Saturday (.281) was its second-lowest in Pac-12 play behind its total in a sweep of then-No. 3 USC (.239).
Saturday's outcome raised UO's record the past 3 1/2 years in the series to 4-3 (including its third straight victory in Eugene). For comparison's sake, UW had won 17 contests in a row in the series from 2001-08 (a stretch that included its national title, two NCAA semifinal appearances and two more regional final trips).
UW entered the match as the last of the 330 division teams that had not lost this season. The Huskies had dropped only five sets in their 22 on the season overall (and had lost two sets in a match only once before at home in late September to returning national champion UCLA).
Looking ahead, UO hits the road the next two weeks to play at Arizona and Arizona State, Friday-Saturday, October 19-20; and at Colorado and Utah, Fri.-Sun., Oct. 26-28.
Oregon’s next home action will be vs. California and No. 4 Stanford, Fri.-Sun., Nov. 2-4 at 6 and 1 p.m., respectively.
Fans can tune to watch five of those six matches on Pac-12 Networks, with the Wildcat, Buffalo, Golden Bear and Cardinal tilts regionally televised, and the Ute contest nationally televised.