Oct. 18, 2009

Courtesy of Oregon Athletics

EUGENE - The No. 15 University of Oregon (14-3, 4-3) savored a five-set win over No. 5 Stanford (12-5, 5-2) Saturday night at McArthur Court for its first win in the series since 1989, and first between the two teams in Eugene since 1986.

With its 25-23, 22-25, 30-32, 25-22, 15-11 decision, UO's third-ever win in the series dating back to 1979 was certainly a team effort as a season-high four Ducks ended with double-digit kill and dig figures vs. the returning national runners-up.

Senior outside hitter Sonja Newcombe tied her career high in kills (26) from last week's match at No. 22 Arizona, and also hit .362. The Lake Arrowhead, Calif., native's team season-high 24 digs also marked her sixth double-double of the season and 40th of her career.

"I can't keep the smile off my face," Newcombe said. "We had to battle, and it was a huge team effort. We just had to focus on each point and go from there. Everyone did a great job of staying composed and business-like, and keeping their emotions in check until the end. This was a pretty darn big win, and I'm hoping we have some other ones, too."

Senior middle blocker Neticia Enesi paced the team in hitting (.514) for the 12th time in '09, and her 21 kills was a season high and only two off her career high (23) from a five-set win at then-No. 12 USC last year.

Freshman outside hitter Katherine Fischer also rang up a career high in kills (14) and a match-high three aces, and her career-high 16 digs marked her second career double-double.

"I'm so proud of how we played," Fischer said. "The crowd was great and really made a difference. I've been working on my serving lately, and was able to move it around well tonight."

Freshman libero Kellie Kawasaki proved a centerpiece of the defense with a myriad of acrobatic plays en route to 19 digs Saturday - her highest tally of the season and UO's second-best mark of the year.

"These wins give us a lot of confidence," Kawasaki said. "We've been working hard to try and play more together in practice, and it showed tonight. Personally, I was ready to do whatever it took. The bigger the match, the less nervous I normally am, and the team was like that tonight and really communicated well with each other."

Claiming UO's third double-double of the evening and 19th of her career, senior setter Nevena Djordjevic had a season-high 63 assists - her second-highest ever and only one off last year's career best in a win vs. then-No. 9 UCLA. The Lazarevac, Serbia native's 13 digs nearly doubled her previous season high (7), and was not far off her career high (17) from her freshman season.

Among other noteworthy efforts, junior outside hitter Heather Meyers added 14 kills, nine digs, four blocks and an ace; and sophomore oustide hitter Dana Stephenson added five kills, four blocks and a .333 hitting mark.

Team-wise, UO held advantages in hitting (.289-.264), assists (74-66) and digs (89-83), while Stanford held a slight edge in aces (7-6) and blocks (12-10).

Friday's win marked the eighth league opponent to fall to head coach Jim Moore who is in his fifth year at the helm of the Ducks. In that span, UO is 90-53 overall, not to mention 31-30 in league play aginast the 'Conference of Champions' the last 3 1/2 seasons, and has advanced to the NCAA regional final two straight times for the first time in school history.

"To go 20 years without beating them is a long time, but more important is how the players responded to adversity," Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. "After we lost game three the way we did, and then came out so disorganized in game four, we lost heart and weren't playing tough, but we regained composure and were able to pull it out. Sonja played ridiculous - 26 kills and 24 digs against a team like this is amazing. This whole week the seniors led the way in practice. They have showed their intelligence and composure. They never stopped believing tonight. Kellie also did a great job as well as the whole team."

Two-time All-American and junior outside hitter Alix Klineman led the Cardinal in kills (24), points (27.5) and aces (2), while other category leaders included Karissa Cook (43 assists), Cassidy Lichtman (17 digs), Janet Okogbaa (7 blocks) and Jessica Walker (two aces).

In the first set, after Stanford started the match on a 3-0 run, UO hung tough and forced eight ties up until 15-15, when Fischer's kill gave UO its first lead of the set and one it wouldn't relinquish en route to a 25-23 winning margin. Enesi ended the set with six kills in her eight attempts for a .750 hitting mark.

In the second set, the two teams traded the lead early until 11-11. Newcombe's four subsequent kills fueled a UO run that put the Ducks up 19-14, with the final point on a Meyers kill-Stephenson assist that ended a long rally that included two digs along the baseline by Djordjevic. However, Stanford fought back to tie it 20-20, then go ahead 22-20 on a run of four straight kills by Klineman, en route to a 25-22 win. Newcombe ended with six kills scattered throughout the set and also had four digs.

After the intermission, neither team led by more than three points in the third set until UO went up 18-14 on the second of two straight kills by Newcombe. Moments earlier, UO survived the longest volley of the match to go up 16-14 after it weathered five attacks by Stanford before a wide attack error by Klineman off the left side. After UO tied the match 21-21, the two teams traded points until 30-30, when an error by Meyers and a kill by Klineman gave Stanford a 32-30 win - Kleinman's fourth kill from the 25th point on and seventh of the set. For Oregon, Newcombe and Meyers each had five kills and one of the team's four blocks in the period.

The fourth set saw Stanford get out to a 6-4 lead before UO scored four straight points behind the serving of Nevena Djordjevic. After Stanford tied it 14-14, UO went on a 5-0 run en route to a 22-16 lead, then weathered a Cardinal comeback to win 25-22 on a kill from Newcombe - her eighth of the set - while she also came up with seven digs.

In the fifth set, UO picked an opportune time to stake its biggest early lead of the night when it sprinted out to an 8-2 advantage on three kills by Meyers, two by Newcombe another by Enesi and an ace by Fischer. Stanford was able to close the score to 11-8, before UO ultimately pulled out the set, 15-11, thanks to single kills by the aforementioned quartet.

Breaking down the sets, UO's offense sported .387 and .357 hitting totals the first two sets, before following with .216, .262 and .257 marks the final three sets. Stanford's offense followed a generally similar trajectory, going from .270 and .447 early to .216, .182 and .222 the last three sets, respectively.

UO's win Saturday vs. the Cardinal had been preceeded by three four-set contests in 2007 and '08. For comparison's sake in that interim time before Moore's arrival from 1990-2004, UO had pushed the Cardinal to five sets only once (in 2000) and four sets twice (1996 and 2001).

In other league action Saturday night, No. 14 California won 3-0 at Oregon State; No. 4 Washington beat No. 16 USC, 3-2, at home; and No. 12 UCLA beat Washington State, 3-0, in Pullman. The Huskies were the only other league team to go 2-0 on the weekend with their 3-1 victory over UCLA, while USC lost Friday at WSU, 3-0, No. 18 Arizona beat ASU, 3-1, in Tempe, and UO beat No. 14 Cal, 3-0.

In the 25-20, 25-19, 25-20 win over Cal, Newcombe also paced UO in kills (13) and points (15) and hit .545 - her second-highest mark of the season behind her career high .611 at Portland in early September.