Ducks' Win Streak Reaches Four
EUGENE, Ore. — The No. 17 Oregon volleyball team extended its winning streak to four matches and completed a season sweep of USC on Friday with a five-set victory in Matthew Knight Arena.
The Ducks (19-6, 10-5 Pac-12) won the opening two sets before the Trojans threatened to complete a reverse sweep, as Oregon itself had done to win at USC on Oct. 24. But the UO women took command early in the fifth to win 25-22, 25-20, 26-28, 21-25, 15-11 for the Ducks' fourth straight win.
"I think we're on a good track," UO coach Matt Ulmer said. "We're still not playing at a high enough level to achieve our goals. But I definitely like that it's on an upward trend."
How It Happened: The Ducks struggled to find their rhythm early, hitting under .100 for much of the opening set. Two Morgan Lewis kills plus an ace and a kill by Brooke Nuneviller put Oregon out front, 8-5, but after a solo block by Taylor Williams put the Ducks up 18-16, USC rallied with three straight points. A kill by Williams tied it 20-20 before the Trojans took a 22-20 lead, a run Oregon answered with the last five points of the set to win. Nuneviller had kills on each of the final two points.
The Ducks carried that momentum into the second set, in which they hit .429. Oregon's third straight service error helped USC stay close, 7-7, but the Ducks answered with a mini-run that included two Nuneviller kills and two by Kiari Robey. USC rallied for one more tie, at 12-12, before Oregon finished off the set, winning despite six service errors.
"But we have to do that," Ulmer said. "Because when we stayed aggressive, it kept them out of sorts."
Oregon lost that mentality over the next two sets, however. USC's two most efficient sets of the night offensively were the third and the fourth, in which the Trojans hit .245 and then .425. The Ducks were playing from behind for nearly the entirety of those two sets, a direct reflection of how well USC was able to pass due to Oregon's lack of aggression in service.
"Some of them were good passes," Nuneviller said. "But I think we let them off the hook a little bit with our easier serves."
The fifth set, then, began in encouraging fashion — an ace by Becca Morse. Nuneviller had kills on two straight UO points to make it 4-2, and she teamed with Robey on a block for a 5-2 lead. Lewis had kills for leads of 7-3 and then 10-5, and a block by Gloria Mutiri and Karson Bacon got the lead to 11-5. Williams and Mutiri had consecutive kills for a 13-8 lead, Nuneviller set up match point and Mutiri finished it off on Oregon's third attempt to clinch it.
Who Stood Out: Nuneviller finished with a match-high 25 kills, and added 13 digs for her 13th double-double of the season.
"She's just playing so much more physical, just really putting a lot of heat on the ball; a lot of range," Ulmer said. "I love her mindset out there. And Morgan has been picking that up and following that lead for longer and longer stretches."
Lewis added 14 kills, while Mutiri added 11. Elise Ferreira had 31 assists with 16 digs and Kylie Robinson added 29 assists with nine digs, while Georgia Murphy finished with 20 digs to become the 15th player in UO history with 1,000 in her career.
Up Next: The Ducks host No. 12 UCLA in Matthew Knight Arena on Sunday (noon, Pac-12 Network).