Dec. 6, 2008

Courtesy Oregon Athletics

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The No. 7-ranked and 11th-seeded University of Oregon volleyball team will advance to the NCAA Tournament Third Round for the second straight season next weekend after its 3-1 win over North Carolina Saturday evening at American University.

The Ducks (25-8, 11-7) won its NCAA Second Round contest by a score of 25-20, 24-26, 26-19, 25-19, and beat the Tar Heels (22-11, 15-5) for the second time this season.

Junior Sonja Newcombe hit .326, and logged her 10th double-double of the season and 34th in her career with her team-high 18 kills and 11 digs.

"It's good to get a win anytime," Newcombe said. `We got the job done as a team and that's what matters. After they won the second set, we were on a mission to not let them take the match from us. We're very excited to now go to Texas, but it'll be all business, and we'll keep our focus."

Three other Ducks hit above .300 - Neticia Enesi (.368, 11 kills), Gorana Maricic (17 kills, .359) and Kristen Forristall (career-high 15 kills, .345).

Junior setter Nevena Djordjevic had 59 assists - a career high for four-set matches and one better than her 58 vs. Washington at home in mid-November.

On defense, UO combined for 5 1/2 blocks as Enesi, Newcombe and Meyers each had two total. Seniro libero Katie Swoboda came up with 29 digs, and Newcombe and Maricic also had double-doubles thanks to their dig totals (11 / 10).

"We wanted to come out strong," Forristall said, "and now we have to finish more consistently and that will lead to good things. We played well as a team, yet we still have things to work on as a team."

The Ducks hit .331 for the match - the 16th time this season they've topped .300 - thanks to marks of .306, .280, .516 and .270 in sets 1-4. UNC ended with a .253 mark for the match and had set by set totals of .184, .349, .241 and .222, respectively.

"UNC played great and that was good for us," Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. "They dug some balls that nobody has dug against us this year and that's OK. We learned some things today that can help us in future matches. This was much better that we had to play. At the end of game two we realized that we couldn't be nervous or anxious and we had to play. Kristen and Sonja played well the whole way, and Gorana came on the last two. I thought it was in the middle of game three we really settled down and started focused on siding out. Our passing calmed down and everything got itself into rhythm. We know that if we pass well, the offense will be there. We have to learn how to be who we are, calm down and things will be OK."

Oregon is now 4-2 in its three postseason trips under fourth-year head coach Jim Moore after it beat Missouri State (3-0) and 11th seed Kansas State (3-2) in 2007 and lost to Hawai'I (3-0) in its opener in 2006. Before his arrival, UO was 1-4 in NCAA postseason action all-time since the first tourney in '01 with its other appearances coming 1984, '86, '87 and '89).

Looking at the '08 season, UO's win over UNC Saturday and Delaware Friday (3-0) gave it its most wins (25) in a season since 1984 (27). Oregon's third-round NCAA trip next week will be only its second ever in school history in the 64-team format.