Ducks Take Five-Set Rivalry Win
EUGENE, Ore. — Returning from a two-week break and welcoming back two regulars from pandemic protocols, the No. 17 Oregon volleyball team perhaps predictably had some rust to shake off before taking care of visiting Oregon State in Matthew Knight Arena on Friday in five sets.
The Ducks (10-3) trailed 7-4 in the final game before rallying back to win the game and the match, 26-24, 19-25, 25-15, 21-25, 15-12. Brooke Nuneviller had 19 kills and 18 digs to lead the Ducks, Gloria Mutiri had 12 kills and Taylor Borup added 11 kills with 12 digs in her first action in more than a month.
"I just felt like we were a step slow compared to where we normally are," UO coach Matt Ulmer said. "I'm really proud of us for hanging tough and making plays down the stretch, and pulling the match out."
How It Happened: After Oregon State won the fourth game to even the match, the Beavers (5-10) took an early lead in the fifth, 3-1. Mutiri had kills to get the Ducks within 4-3 and then 5-4, and tried to get Oregon back within one again when it was 6-4, but the ball landed out. That gave OSU a 7-4 lead, and though Ulmer's challenge of the out call was unsuccessful, Borup said the Ducks were energized by the powerful attack.
The Ducks kept it close, getting a kill from Nuneviller and a block by Abby Hansen and Morgan Lewis for a 9-9 tie, and another Nuneviller kill followed by a block from Hansen and Mutiri put Oregon up, 11-10. Nuneviller and Borup found the floor on consecutive points to make it 13-11, and kills by Mutiri and Karson Bacon ended the match.
"(The Beavers) always give us their best game," said Borup, who hadn't played since Valentine's Day due to pandemic protocols. "In that aspect it's always really fun to play them, because they'll always bring the intensity."
Oregon State led 7-3 in the first set before kills by Nuneviller and Hansen helped the Ducks rally back within 8-7. OSU led 12-9 when Borup earned a sideout for the Ducks, and Georgia Murphy served them into the lead at 13-12. Nuneviller had three straight UO kills to keep the opening game tied at 19-19, and yet another kill by Nuneviller set up game point before it ended 26-24 on an OSU error.
The Beavers rallied in game two, scoring six straight points to go from down 9-8 to up 14-9. A block by Bacon and Mutiri ended another OSU run to keep Oregon within 18-12, and though the two teams went back-and-forth the rest of the game, that six-point margin remained intact for OSU in the end, 25-19.
At that point, Ulmer said, he encouraged setters Kylie Robinson and Elise Ferreira to get right-side hitters Mutiri and Lewis more involved, and they obliged. Mutiri had Oregon's first two kills of the third game, and Murphy was on serve for another UO run as the Ducks jumped out to a 5-3 lead. A kill by Bacon that followed a fantastic pancake by Nuneviller put Oregon up 7-3, and a Bacon block made it 9-4. Becca Morse, like Borup back from a month-long absence, served Oregon to four straight points for a 14-6 lead, and Hansen had two kills as the Ducks scored the final four points of the game to win, 25-15.
OSU scored five straight to take a 5-2 lead in game four, a lead the Beavers never relinquished. Mutiri continued to have a bigger presence, with three kills as Oregon fought off game point four times. Oregon State eventually held on to win, 25-21, but Mutiri continued her strong play in game five as the Ducks took the match.
Who Stood Out: Mutiri hit .257 and assisted on four blocks to finish second behind Nuneviller on the night in points. Bacon and Hansen combined for 15 kills and 31 swings out of the middle, as well as 11 blocks. Robinson had 36 assists and Ferreira had 18, plus eight digs.
What It Means: Since Valentine's Day the Ducks had a series at Utah canceled due to protocols involving the Utes, played two weeks without Borup and Morse due to protocols within their own program, then didn't play last week due to protocols at Stanford. So Friday's match was the first time in five weeks Oregon was playing at full strength.
"It felt like it was preseason all over again, in the beginning," Ulmer said. "Hopefully there's no more interruptions towards the end of the season, and we can just continue to grow."
Up Next: The Ducks head to Corvallis for the second of two against OSU on Sunday (4 p.m., Pac-12 Network).