Oregon volleyball sweeps Utah, Lauren Plum returns

Junior middle blocker Serena Warner launches herself into the air and pulls back for spike. The Oregon Ducks take on the Utah Utes at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Ore. on Oct. 19, 2013. (Nate Barrett/Emerald)

Junior middle blocker Serena Warner launches herself into the air and pulls back for spike. The Oregon Ducks take on the Utah Utes at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Ore. on Oct. 19, 2013. (Nate Barrett/Emerald)

Posted by Hayden Kim on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2:41 pm.

After completing the sweep against Colorado on Friday, the Ducks (12-6) turned around and did the same against Utah (15-5). The Ducks are now 5-3 in conference play and currently sit in a tie with Arizona for fourth place in the Pac-12.

Hitting was key for the Ducks this afternoon as they finished with 50 team kills. Leading the way for the Ducks was Liz Brenner who racked up a team high 20 kills on .594 percent hitting. Ariana Williams added 11 kills of her own.

The Ducks got off to a fast start — something Jim Moore has been looking for all season – as they took an early 13-3 lead in the first set. Aside from the first two points of the game, the Ducks led the entire first set and didn’t look back. Brenner’s ninth kill capped off a 25-15 first set victory for the Ducks.

“It was great to get a good start because we had not had a good start in a long time,” Jim Moore said. “We were good offensively most of the game. Like I said, a little shaky at the end, which dropped us below .400, but it was still real good.”

In the second set, the Ducks welcomed back senior setter Lauren Plum for the first time in weeks. Plum has been sidelined with a right foot injury for the past few games and her minutes were understandably limited this game.

“It’s a lot of fun to have (Lauren) Plum back out there,” Brenner said. “I know she’s been working really hard to get her foot better so I’m excited to see what else she can do.”

However, the set didn’t go as smoothly as the first. Utah came out hitting well and it caused both teams to trade leads throughout the set. But midway through the set, the Ducks went on a 4-0 scoring spurt to take a 19-14 lead. One of those points came from a Plum service ace.

The Ducks eventually took the set 25-19 and headed into the break with a commanding 2-0 lead.

Coming out of the break, the Ducks were firing on all cylinders. The Ducks jumped out to a 19-11 lead and looked like they were headed for an easy win. But Utah wasn’t quite done yet. Late in the set, Utah rallied back with a 8-2 run to close the gap to four.

Despite the sloppy finish to the game, the Ducks still managed to pull out a 25-21 finish following a Brenner kill to win the set.

The Ducks will now take a couple days off before traveling to Palo Alto, Calif. to take on Stanford. Stanford is currently 6-1 in conference play and is tied for second place in the Pac-12 with Washington. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.

Noteworthy

  • Shellsy Ashen finished with 41 assists in place of Plum.
  • Lauren Plum recorded one service ace and one dig.
  • Ducks hit .417 percent as a team in the first two sets.
  • Ducks finished with 13 more digs than Utah.