Nuneviller Leads Reverse Sweep Of UW
EUGENE, Ore. — Led by an historic performance from junior Brooke Nuneviller, the Oregon volleyball team rallied back from a two-game deficit to knock off No. 7 Washington in Matthew Knight Arena on Sunday, 25-27, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-10.
The 20th-ranked Ducks (9-3) bounced back from defeat for the third time this season, after being swept by the Huskies on Friday. Oregon came into the week with dreams of contending for a Pac-12 Conference title, didn't look up to the task on Friday but bounced back in a major way on Sunday.
"I think our attitude changed, even in the first two sets," Nuneviller said. "I don't think we were down going into the third set, which is something I definitely cannot say about Friday's match. That was a huge change. Emotionally we matured, in two days. We fought for every single point throughout the entire match."
Nuneviller had an arena-record 35 kills, and didn't commit an error until the penultimate point of the match on the way to hitting .523. She added 19 digs for her 11th double-double in 12 matches this season.
"Find me a better volleyball player in the country; I want to know who she is," Ulmer said. "There isn't one. You won't find it. The best player in the country is on our team."
How It Happened: Though the Ducks dropped the opening two games Sunday, it was immediately clear this would be a more competitive match. Oregon fell behind 7-3 in all three games Friday, forcing early timeouts from Ulmer. That wasn't the case Sunday, with Nuneviller scoring off the UW block to give Oregon a 7-6 lead in the opening game. Taylor Williams and Gloria Mutiri followed with kills for a 9-6 lead, and the Ducks led as late as 14-13 when Nuneviller scored out of the back row. UW's third ace of the game put Washington up 23-20, and though two kills by Nuneviller and two from Morgan Lewis helped Oregon rally into the lead, UW fought off two game points on the way to rallying for a 27-25 win.
Kills by Nuneviller, Mutiri and Lewis helped Oregon out to a 4-2 lead in game two, and another Lewis kill followed by a UW error put the Ducks up 8-5. The Huskies mounted a strong response to go ahead 12-9, before Nuneviller stopped the run. Two kills by Lewis plus a block by Lewis and Karson Bacon tied the game, 14-14, and Nuneviller had three straight tiebreaking kills to put Oregon up 17-16, then 18-17, then 19-18. Mutiri gave the Ducks their last lead at 21-20, but UW scored the final three points to go up two games to none, 25-22.
"I challenged them at the start of the third, that every point, every play they would mentally refresh," Ulmer said. "We did such a horrible job of that Friday. … They did that really, really well. (And) Brooke really just bailed us out of some really rough situations."
Oregon's rally back from down two games began with defense. The Ducks held Washington, the Pac-12's best hitting team, to a .098 percentage in game three. Three early UW errors helped Oregon take an early 5-1 lead in game three, and a Nuneviller kill made it 8-2. A Lewis kill and a block by Lewis and Abby Hansen put Oregon up 11-5, and a Nuneviller kill followed by two more UW errors extended the lead to 16-8. Washington rallied back within 16-14, but Nuneviller ended the run with a kill from the back row. Kills by Williams and Bacon made it 20-15, and Bacon won a joust at the net for a 22-18 lead. Lewis set up game point for Oregon, and though the Huskies fought it off a couple times, Nuneviller's 20th kill ended the game, 25-23.
"Sometimes you feel it, and you see everything clearly," Nuneviller said. "I think I just had one of those games today."
Washington tested Oregon's resolve by leading in the early stretches of game four, at 5-3 and later at 9-7. A kill by Hansen and a block by Hansen and Williams tied it, 10-10, and another back row kill by Nuneviller gave Oregon the lead. Nuneviller scored out of the back row yet again for a 13-12 advantage, and she scored again to break a tie for a 15-14 lead. Two straight points from Hansen extended the UO lead, and three straight by Nuneviller got the Ducks to 20-16. Nuneviller scored to give Oregon leads of 21-18, 23-19 and 24-21, and Williams finished off the game to even the match, 25-21.
Hansen teamed with Mutiri and then Williams for blocks on the opening two points of game five, setting the tone for a game in which Oregon never trailed. The Ducks led 6-5 when a kill by Nuneviller sparked a five-point run to an 11-5 lead, with Hansen teaming for two more blocks during the run, with Mutiri and Nuneviller. A kill by Mutiri set up match point at 14-8, and though the Huskies fought off two match points — the second because of Nuneviller's first and only hitting error of the match — Mutiri ended it for the home team, 15-10.
"It just had a playoff kind of atmosphere today," Ulmer said. "It was two really good teams going for it. I thought we were going to get that Friday, and we didn't, so that was disappointing. We got that today.
"We showed up. They showed up. You gotta get in these big matches and then you see, can you do it? Can you step up under pressure? And a lot of people did that today."
Notable: Mutiri finished with 15 kills, Lewis had 14 and Bacon added 10. … Williams had six kills plus 14 digs, and was on serve for Oregon's best rotation of the first two games as she helped account for the absence of Taylor Borup due to COVID-19 protocols. … Setters Elise Ferreira and Kylie Robinson each had double-doubles. Ferreira had 32 assists with 13 digs, and Robinson had 30 assists with 18 digs. … Georgia Murphy also had a double-double, with 12 assists and 19 digs.
Up Next: The Ducks play at Stanford on Friday at 6 p.m.