Gutsy Effort In Five-Set Win
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Bates/Off The Block Blog
LOS ANGELES – Oregon stormed back from facing match point in set four Friday night to pull off a gritty five-set victory over USC in the Galen Center, 23-25, 25-17, 22-25, 28-26, 15-8. The Ducks improved to 3-2 on the year and won their first Friday match of the season and have now beaten the Trojans four straight times on the road.
How It Happened: Down 24-23 with USC serving for the match in set four, Brooke Nuneviller delivered a big-time swing to tie things up and extend the set. Taylor Williams and Taylor Borup each followed with kills, but the Trojans fended off two Oregon set points, before a service error and a wide attack gave the Ducks the set and forced a fifth.
The Ducks rode that momentum into the deciding set, going up 5-1 to force a Trojan timeout. USC went on a 5-0 run out of the timeout to take a 6-5 lead before Oregon burned their first timeout of the set. A block by Williams and Karson Bacon on the next point ignited a 6-0 run to give the Ducks control of the set and clinch the match with a 15-8 set-five win, capped off by a Gloria Mutiri kill.
The two teams went back-and-forth for most of the opening set with both sides finding a rhythm offensively. The Ducks opened up a slim two-point lead late in the set at 22-20, but USC went on a 4-0 and took the first frame, 25-23.
Oregon bounced back to know the match up at a set apiece with a commanding 25-17 set two win. Borup did damage at the service line to help open things up for the Ducks, first on serve for a 3-0 start to the frame, then again later in the set with a pair of aces to stretch the Oregon lead to seven. The Ducks also did the job defensively, holding USC to .036 hitting in the second frame.
Both sides went on multiple runs in the third, but USC pulled ahead late in the set to win 25-22 and take a 2-1 lead in the match. Oregon led 6-2 early on, but a 6-0 Trojan run in the middle of the set put them on top 15-11. The Ducks answered by going on a 10-4 run to lead 21-19, but lost six of the final seven points to drop the set.
Quotable: Head Coach Matt Ulmer
On the win…
"I just thought that we fought really hard. A lot of people stepped up and made plays. It wasn't the prettiest game for us but I just really loved our grit and never-give-up attitude. I thought as the match went on we got more and more aggressive."
On getting another balanced effort…
"Overall we have a really talented group. I think as time goes on, the setters will get more comfortable. USC did a good job of taking away the middle attacks, so we had to go to the pins more. Because of our balance you never know whose night it's going to be, so it's important that everyone is ready to go."
Notable: Oregon won its fourth in a row over USC in the Galen Center and has won six of the last eight in Los Angeles against the Trojans … The road team has won each of the last seven meetings in the series between the two teams … The Ducks again showed balance offensively, with five players finishing with seven-plus kills … Oregon has held its opponents to under .200 hitting percentage in each of the three wins, holding USC to .163 for the match … Nuneviller recorded her fourth double-double of the year, finishing with 10 kills and 10 digs … Mutiri finished tied for the team lead with 10 kills while hitting .389 ... She has led or shared the team lead in kills in each of the three wins … Borup set a career-high with four service aces … The Ducks played with just nine available players for the third straight match.
Up Next: The Ducks will play its second match against the Trojans Sunday at 2 p.m. (Pac-12 Network).