Ducks Sweep ’Cats For Fourth Straight
EUGENE, Ore. — Buoyed by added depth and a command performance from junior Brooke Nuneviller, the Oregon volleyball team put together its most dominant offensive performance of the season Friday to sweep Arizona in Matthew Knight Arena and win for the fourth straight match.
Nuneviller led the Ducks (5-2) with 14 kills and 16 digs, her sixth double-double in seven matches this season. She had a solo block to set up match point, then finished off the match with a kill that gave Oregon a 25-19, 25-17, 25-15 sweep in which the Ducks hit a season-high .320.
"She's so good; holy moly," UO coach Matt Ulmer said. "Today was really special. The plays that she makes, they're so difficult, so many of them. And she makes them look easy. It's fun to see her gain confidence and her all-around game grow."
How It Happened: Two weeks after things started to click for Oregon's setters in a home split against UCLA, the duo of Kylie Robinson and Elise Ferreira on Friday had what Ulmer deemed "the best match we've set since they've been here." Oregon hit .310 in a sweep of UCLA that sparked the current four-match win streak, and the distribution and execution by Robinson and Ferreira on Friday led to an even more efficient performance, and another three-game sweep.
The Ducks had played the previous two weekends with a short bench due to COVID-19 protocols, but played Friday with a full roster. That paid immediate dividends against Arizona when Morgan Lewis, one of the players who had been out, had a kill and a block in the early part of the first game as the Ducks and Wildcats went back-and-forth. Then, another player back from the protocols, Becca Morse, took over serve with the game tied, 11-11, and served Oregon into a 15-11 lead that included kills by Gloria Mutiri, Karson Bacon, Nuneviller and Taylor Borup. The Ducks enjoyed another long run with Borup serving, scoring six straight to go up 22-14; that run included another kill by Lewis, and a block by Lewis and Bacon. Lewis teamed with Abby Hansen for another block that set up game point, and Oregon went on to win 25-19.
"I just think we're playing so well as a team right now," Nuneviller said. "Our first couple weeks we were a little bit individualized. Every single game, every single point, we're coming together more. We're making each other better. It's an incredible feeling."
In game two, Bacon had a couple of early kills as Ferreira and Robinson continued to incorporate Oregon's middles offensively to great effect. Back-to-back kills by Lewis put the Ducks up for good in the game, 8-7, and consecutive kills by Borup made it 13-8. Mutiri and Hansen teamed up for a block that put Oregon up 16-9, and a tip by Mutiri followed by a Bacon block made it 19-13. Both teams were able to side out well for the next few points, but that allowed no chance for Arizona to close the gap and the Ducks finished off the game with a Nuneviller kill followed by a Borup block.
Consecutive points from Borup gave Oregon an early 3-1 lead in game three, but momentum swung Arizona's way and the Wildcats (2-5) fought their way to a 10-6 advantage. Nuneviller had a kill and then an ace to tie it, 11-11, and the Ducks went ahead for good with a side out for a 14-13 lead. Ferreira took over serve and Oregon scored six more points in a row, including a block by Bacon and Lewis and a kill by Nuneviller. Moments later Nuneviller had a block to set up match point, and then Georgia Murphy set her up for the kill that ended the match. Afterward, Ulmer said the Ducks were able to fight back from their mid-game deficit thanks to the energy they got from the back-at-full-strength bench, and Nuneviller agreed.
"When we were at USC (the week before) and had three players on the bench, they did such a fantastic job," she said. "But our team's just getting better and better and lifting each other up every point. Doubling the bench, it's twice as loud, and that definitely brought energy."
Notable: Oregon's four-match winning streak is the longest by the Ducks since the 2018 season ... The Ducks won their fifth conference match of the season, matching their total from the entire 2019 season ... Nuneviller recorded her sixth double-double of the season through seven matches, turning in 14 kills and 16 digs while hitting career-high.464... It was the first time in her career that Nuneviller hit over .400 while recording double-digit kills ... She's the first Oregon player to hit over .450 with at least 10 kills and 15 digs since Lindsey Vander Weide on Oct. 19, 2017 ... The Ducks held an opponent to under .200 hitting for the fourth time - all of those coming in wins ... Oregon won the battle at the net again, out-blocking Arizona 9-3, making the Ducks 5-0 in matches where they either lead or are tied in blocks ... Oregon committed 10 or fewer hitting errors in a match for the first time since a sweep of Hofstra in September 2019.
Up Next: The Ducks host Arizona again on Sunday (11 a.m., Oregon Live Stream).