Ducks Fall in Five to No. 13 Minnesota
EUGENE, Ore. – The No. 11 Oregon volleyball team led 2-1 Saturday night but No. 13 Minnesota rallied for a five-set win at Matthew Knight Arena. With their first setback of the season, the Ducks are now 6-1 ahead of next week's road trip to Washington, D.C.
Morgan Lewis led a quartet of Ducks in double figures with 15 kills. Defensively, the Ducks picked up 90 digs in the five setter behind a pair of 20-dig performances from libero Georgia Murphy (23) and Brooke Nuneviller (22). Saturday's match marked Oregon's second of the season with at least 90 digs.
"We saw a lot of good things this weekend," head coach Matt Ulmer said. "A lot of things we're going to take forward with us. I thought we competed at a really high level. Today, we weren't consistent enough but there were some really great stretches that we can take."
Early in the decisive fifth set, Minnesota (3-3) used a four-point surge to go ahead 7-3 and force Oregon to call timeout. The Ducks got to within two at 7-5 after a solo block by Abby Hansen. The visitors reeled off the next four points to create some separation—an 11-5 lead—on the scoreboard.
Aided by kills from Nuneviller and Karson Bacon, the Ducks responded with a three-point push to cut the deficit in half. Minnesota, however, maintained a lead of three to four points and on a kill by Stephanie Samedy led 14-10. Taylor Borup saved the first with 13th kill and then teamed up with Hansen for a block and the Ducks were back to within two. But on the next play, after a Minnesota timeout, the Gopher put down a kill to clinch the win.
"I told the team at the end that this was very much like a Sweet Sixteen-Elite Eight back to back," Ulmer said. "We fell short of going to the Final Four by 15-12 (in the fifth). What can we learn from this so that the next time the result will be different? I really love my group and I think we're close to being one of the really great teams out there."
Bacon finished the night with a season-high 11 kills coupled with a .450 hitting percentage. She also had four blocks against Minnesota. Hansen led Oregon with six total blocks in the match.
Minnesota won the opening set before the Ducks fought back to take sets two and three.
In the third set, the score was tied at 8-all before Oregon put together a five-point run to go ahead 13-8. The Ducks didn't trail again in the set but saw its advantage trimmed to one at 15-14 after consecutive Minnesota blocks. Oregon pushed the lead to 19-15, capping the mini-run with a tandem block by Lewis and Hansen. The lead grew to as much as seven points on three occasions including the final set score, 25-18. Bacon secured the 2-1 match lead with a kill.
The Golden Gophers jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the fourth set before Oregon began to chip away at the deficit. Behind a five-point run later in the set, the Ducks caught and passed the visitors at 17-15. In a set marked by momentum swings, Minnesota registered the definitive move with a 6-1 run and went on to win the frame, 25-20, to force a fifth.
Up Next: The team is off to the nation's capital next weekend for three matches beginning Friday, Sept. 16 at Howard. The road trip also features matches against Harvard and American. The Ducks' next home match is Sept. 22 for their Pac-12 opener against Oregon State.
2021 Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge
Sept. 10-11 | Eugene, Ore.
Matthew Knight Arena
Friday, Sept. 10
Match 1: Minnesota def. Stanford, 3-1
Match 2: Oregon def. Penn State, 3-0
Saturday, Sept. 11
Match 3: Stanford def. Penn State, 3-2
Match 4: Minnesota def. Oregon, 3-2
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