Dec. 4, 2009

Courtesy of Oregon Athletics

The No. 14 seed University of Oregon volleyball team (20-9, 9-9) rolled past Clemson, 3-0, to open the NCAA Tournament Friday afternoon with a win for the third straight season.

The Ducks beat the Tigers for the second time in school history, this time by a 25-17, 25-21, 25-20 score to also stake its fourth straight 20-win season for the first time since 1977-80. UO’s other win in the series came to open the 1995 season at Colorado State in 3-0 fashion.
“We really weren’t in a rhythm like I had hoped,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said, “but that can happen in the first round matches, so I was happy that our players kept their focus. We hit well, but we need to improve our defense and dig balls better. Clemson hit well from the middle and ran their slide effectively and went over us. We need to block better and serve tougher.”

Senior outside hitter Sonja Newcombe posted her 24th +10-kill match this season and paced UO in the category for the 16th time in ’09. The Lake Arrowhead, Calif., native added six digs and two blocks. “We weren’t really ‘on’,” Newcombe said, “but we didn’t panic and tried to take it one point at a time, just like all season.”

Junior outside hitter Heather Meyers sparked the offense with her ninth double-double of the season (11 kills, 14 digs) and fifth in the last six matches. The Temecula, Calif., native also led the team in points (15.5) for the 13th time this year, hit .269 and paced UO in the digs column (14) for the fourth time in ’09.

Meyers – the conference leader in most aces in a match this year with her total (5) that she has posted four times – got back into the groove with her team-high three aces Friday – the ninth time that she’s paced the team in the category this year but first time with three or more since the opening week  of October.

“We were a little anxious early,” Meyers said. “When you’re this far from home and away from most of your fans you have to generate extra enthusiasm yourself. I just tried to serve it hard, and once I got some rhythm I started to try to actually place it.”

Sophomore outside hitter Dana Stephenson topped UO in the hitting column (.600, 9 kills) for the fourth time in ’09, thanks to her second +.600 total the last three weeks with the other in a 3-2 win over vs. then-No. 7 UCLA (.625) when she had 11 kills at 16 digs.
Freshman outside hitter Katherine Fischer nearly added her fifth double-double with her 11 kills and nine digs, and her .474 hitting mark was her second +.400 mark this season.

Senior setter Nevena Djordjevic racked up 46 assists – two off her three-set season high at Denver in mid-September – for her 13th +40 assist total of the season and 36th of her career.

Freshman libero Kellie Kawasaki added 11 digs – her 14th double-digit tally this season.

In the team comparison, UO hit .405 for its fifth, +400 mark of the season, compared with .255 for Clemson. UO also held advantages in kills (54-43), assists (49-41), aces (5-3) and digs (48-38), and Clemson outpaced Oregon in the block column (6-4).

For Clemson, which finished off its fourth straight +20- win season in head coach Jolene Jordan Hiller’s career, Sandra Adeleye led the fourth-place ACC Conference finishers in kills (13), hitting (.476) blocks (3) and points (14.5). Other category leaders included Kelsey Murphy (35 assists, 3 blocks) and Didem Ege (12 digs).

Looking ahead, UO returns to Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kent., to take on the winner of Friday evening’s Kentucky-Michigan State contest that Kentucky leads 2-0.