No. 6 Ducks spike defending National Champs on senior night

No. 6 Ducks spike defending National Champs on senior night

EUGENE - With its 3-0 win Tuesday night, the No. 6 University of Oregon volleyball team (24-4, 15-4) triumphed over returning national champion and No. 7 UCLA (21-7, 13-6) for the sixth time in as many years. 
 
In its regular season home finale at Matthew Knight Arena, the Ducks staked a 26-24, 25-23, 25-21 victory - only its second, three-set win ever vs. the Bruins after it won in similar fashion at home in '07.
 
For comparison's sake, the four-time national champions from Westwood had owned a 45-1 prior advantage in the series dating back to 1976.
 
"It was important to get a win tonight, mostly for our confidence," Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. "They're the best offense in the country, so we knew we would have to play good defense to win. To hold a team like that under .200 is great."
 
In the team comparisons, Oregon owned edges in kills (50-41), assists (48-38) and hitting (.250-.178). UCLA led in blocks (10-5) and aces (2-0), and shutout UO at the service line for the first time this season.
 
The Senior Night pre-match festivities proved fitting as UO's four final-year players helped the Ducks remain in a tie for second place in the nation's top volleyball conference.
 
In familiar fashion, redshirt senior outside hitter Alaina Bergsma led the team in kills (18) and blocks (4) for the 19th and eighth times this season.
 
The returning All-American's 18 kills also tied the team's three-set season high, and her .342 hitting mark was her 21st above .300 in 2012. She also added nine digs to fall just shy of her sixth double-double of the season and 14th career-wise.
 
Senior outside hitter Katherine Fischer was one of three Ducks with nine kills with junior middle blocker Ariana Williams and sophomore outside hitter Liz Brenner.
 
Brenner posted nine digs to just miss her seventh double-double of  '12, and Williams paced the team in hitting (.350) for a team-best 13th time (thanks to her 20th +.300 total of '12) to go along with two blocks.
 
Senior libero Haley Jacob logged the team's second-highest dig tally (19) among its 18 three-set matches on the campaign. She also paced the team in the category for the 22nd time this year, and was one dig shy of her 22nd career match with +20 digs.
 
Oregon's other senior - defensive specialist Kellie Kawasaki - added two digs in her 117th match career-wise.


Running the balanced offense with trademark poise, junior setter Lauren Plum racked up 37 assists, five kills and seven digs.
 
Among other team news, Jacob and Bergsma moved up the team's all-time season lists for digs (ninth, 410) and points (eighth, 510.5), respectively.
 
For UCLA, senior Tabi Love led in kills (16) and points (17), hit .250 and logged two blocks. Other Bruin category leaders included Zoe Nightingale (5 blocks), Megan Moenoa (19 assists), and Kelly Reeves (13 digs, .385).
 
"This was the best focus we had this year," Moore said. "We were calm but we didn't have a lot of energy - but enough to play three sets I guess. I think part of it was that we were concentrating so hard on what we were supposed to be doing. It will be nice to have a couple days off to recover so we can be ready to play hard at Oregon State."
 
In the first set, the Bruins proved the aggressor early as the sluggish Ducks were forced to call consecutive timeouts down 8-3 and 9-3. However, Oregon immediately bounced back with a 9-2 run that put it up for the first time, 12-11, thanks to five Bruin attack errors and kills by William, Plum, Brenner and Bergsma.
 
The teams stayed within 1-2 points of each other the rest of the way in the initial stanza, and a kill by Fischer on an out-of-system set by Brenner made it 24-23, and forced UCLA’s second timeout. UCLA’s Rachael Kidder followed with a kill just inside the baseline to tie it 24-24, but Williams answered with a kill deflected off the block that skimmed back over the net, but landed just wide. Brenner ended the 26-24 set with her fourth kill to help the Ducks end with a .190 hitting mark after hitting negative the first half of the period.


In the second set, UCLA was the first to call timeout after a five-point Duck run that featured four kills made it 9-6. UCLA responded by tying it 10-10, and the teams stayed with three points of each other the rest of the way, including a UCLA lead of 20-17. The Ducks came back on three Bergsma kills to tie it 21-21, then ended the 25-23 set with two kills by Fischer sandwiched between a Love hitting error. Led by Bergsma (eight kills, .333), the Ducks hit .271 for the period, while UCLA's .229 percentage and seven blocks were its best totals of the match.

The third period also started out with back and back forth play before UO built up a 15-9 advantage on a Bergsma kill that led to a UCLA timeout. Oregon soon extended its lead to 16-12 and 19-15, before a four-point Bruin response tied it, 19-19, thanks to a pair of blocks and kills. After a Duck timeout, Oregon forged back ahead, 22-19, on consecutive points from a block by Bergsma and Canace Finley, and Bergsma’s final kill of the contest. The Ducks then ended the match with the final two points coming on a kill from Fischer and attack error by the Bruins' Rachael Kidder. Bergmsa again had eight kills in the period, and hit .467, and helped the Ducks to a .294-.162 hitting advantage for the set.
  
Looking ahead to later in the week, Oregon wraps up the campaign with a Civil War clash at Oregon State (14-17, 4-15) Friday night at 8 p.m.
 
Fans can tune in to watch both the Bruin and Beaver matches live on the Pac-12 Oregon TV Network.
 
Two days after the Civil War, the 64-team NCAA tournament will be announced on Sunday, November 25 at 1 p.m. Pacific Time by ESPNU.
 
Sixteen sites will host the four-team NCAA First and Second Rounds next Thursday-Sunday, November 30–December 2.
 
More NCAA tourney information will be available at the www.NCAAsports.com website.