Senior Night Sweep For Ducks
EUGENE, Ore. — Playing for the first time in a month, Taylor Borup returned from injury just in time to participate on her senior night with the Oregon volleyball team Tuesday, finishing off a sweep of visiting Arizona with an ace on match point for the No. 19 Ducks.
The Ducks won for the sixth time in eight matches, and finished out the regular season 11-4 in Matthew Knight Arena after the 25-13, 25-18, 25-14 sweep of Arizona. Borup, who last played on Oct. 24 and wasn't fully cleared for practice until Monday, helped the UO offense hit a cool .368 on the night while contributing four kills, nine digs and the match-sealing ace.
"Obviously yesterday I felt rusty; it always takes a minute or two, especially for serving and passing," said Borup, a sixth-year senior who began her career at North Carolina before joining the Ducks in 2018. "I would have liked to hit better, but it doesn't matter. I had a lot of fun, and I'm glad we won. It was just a great night all around."
How It Happened: The Ducks (21-8, 12-7 Pac-12) were dominant from start to finish. They opened the first set with five straight points, including a pair of aces by Georgia Murphy. After Arizona's first point, Oregon went on another extended run with Kylie Robinson on serve, going up 10-1. Karson Bacon teamed up for blocks with Gloria Mutiri and then Morgan Lewis in the middle of the set as the Ducks held off a comeback attempt, and another ace by Murphy came during a run of five straight by the Ducks to a 21-11 lead. Brooke Nuneviller finished off the set with Oregon's seventh ace.
Robinson provided another big cushion for the Ducks in set two, taking over serve with Oregon leading 4-3 and extending the lead to 11-3. Robinson had an ace during the run, and Nuneviller finished it off with two straight kills. Tuesday's other senior being honored on the night of her final regular-season match at home, Abby Hansen, produced a three-point run to a 14-4 lead with a kill, a block alongside Borup and then a solo block. Hansen had another kill to quash an Arizona rally and put Oregon up 21-12, and a kill by Bacon gave the Ducks set point before they won on a Wildcats error.
Entering Tuesday, the Ducks had played four matches this season in which they won the first two sets, then failed to clinch a sweep in the third. Their seniors weren't about to experience that again. "I looked at Abby and was like, this is the last set we'll ever play in here," Borup said. "Let's just make it fun, and let's just do what we do best — play Oregon volleyball."
Inspired by the seniors, Oregon jumped out to an early lead in the third, going up 5-3 on a Nuneviller ace. Arizona fought back and had the lead as late as 11-10, but Nuneviller tied it up with a kill that sparked a seven-point UO run. The Wildcats called timeout twice during the run by couldn't break Nuneviller's serve, and Hansen finished off the run with a kill for a 17-11 lead. Two explosive kills by Nuneviller out of the back row made it 20-12, and Bacon again had the penultimate kill of the set. Thus was Borup serving for the match on her senior night — she took an extra second to soak in the moment, she said later, before serving the ace that clinched a win for the Ducks.
What It Means: The NCAA selection show is Sunday, and the Ducks are holding out hope that they remain in the running for the right to host the first weekend of the tournament.
"I think we're in the conversation, for sure," UO coach Matt Ulmer said. "Our résumé is extremely clean; if you look at the coaches' poll, we haven't lost to anybody other than teams on that list, and we have a handful of wins on that list. We've had injuries that probably prevented our record from looking like it could have, but so it goes."
Who Stood Out: Nuneviller finished the night with 16 kills while hitting .419, plus five digs and four aces. She had double-digit kills for the 10th straight match, and at least 15 for the eighth time in that span — a streak during which she's averaging 4.82 kills per set while hitting .286.
Hansen added six kills on .545 hitting plus five blocks, and Bacon had five kills on .444 hitting. Setters Robinson and Elise Ferreira had 13 assists each, and Murphy added 10 digs with four aces.
Up Next: The Ducks close out the regular season at Oregon State on Friday (5 p.m., Pac-12 Network).