The Oregon Ducks volleyball team is headed to their first Elite 8 in program history after defeating the BYU Cougars 3-1 in Omaha on Friday afternoon. Liz Brenner lead the squad with 26 kills in a match the Ducks appeared to be in control of for the large majority.
With a trip to the Elite 8 on the line both teams came out of the locker room looking crisp and hitting the ball well. In the early stages of the set the two squads found themselves locked at 5 and than again at 7.
As the set wore on, WCC player of the year Jennifer Hamson and her 6-foot-7 frame made her presence felt but the Cougars were not able t to gain any separation from Oregon and the teams once again were knotted at 12.
In the latter part of the set the Ducks found themselves playing good volleyball but just unable to catch BYU who held onto a small lead throughout. However, Lauren Plum was able to tie the set at 21 after a mistake by the Cougars and after several battles, a Katherine Fischer ace gave Oregon a 23-22 lead and forced BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead to call time.
Following the timeout, the Ducks were able to continue executing their fast-paced offense and closed the set out on a kill from Brenner and took the opening frame 25-23.
As the second set began, Jim Moore’s squad was able to maintain the offensive momentum they had in the first and jumped out to an early 6-3 lead. After two consecutive points by Alaina Bergsma gave the Ducks 10-7 lead, Olmstead used his first timeout of the second.
After the timeout, Oregon maintained their small advantage but the Cougars were able to tie the set at 11 and eventually took a 14-12 lead that forced Jim Moore to use his first timeout in an attempt to quell the run BYU was going on.
Following the stoppage in play, BYU won the next two points giving themselves a 16-12 lead, the largest of the match by either side.
Turning point. However, the Ducks responded by going on a 4-0 run to tie the match at 16 and eventually took an 18-17 lead that resulted in the Cougars asking for time and swung the momentum in Oregon’s favor.
Down 2-0 and facing an uphill battle, BYU came out after the intermission playing disciplined volleyball but the Ducks were able to match their intensity and the two teams were tied at 7 early and then at 9 as well. However, a 2-0 spurt by the Cougars, which put them up 11-9, inspired Moore to call his first timeout of the set.
Oregon was able to methodically chip into the sizable Cougar lead and an ace by Haley Jacob pulled the Ducks to within two at 21-19 and Olmstead called timeout seeing his teams lead all but squandered.
However, the Oregon comeback came up just a bit short and a Jennifer Hamson attack at the net gave BYU a 25-22 third set victory and allowed them to stay alive to battle a fourth.
From there it was all Oregon, and a Brenner kill set up from Plum gave the Ducks a 25-12 fourth set victory and a 3-1 match win.
On the horizon. The Ducks have now advanced to the Elite 8 for the first time in program history and will await the winner of the Nebraska-Washington match later this afternoon. They will play Saturday, Dec. 8 at 3:30 p.m. for a chance to travel to Louisville to compete in the Final Four.