Oregon wins a defense-oriented clash with the Bruins 26-24, 25-23, 25-21 to improve to 24-4 and stake a claim to host the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Coming off of a questionable defeat at the hand of the Washington Huskies and a short week to prepare, Oregon Coach Jim Moore thought his team needed a win against the seventh-ranked UCLA Bruins to restore their confidence and his team came through on Senior Night, sweeping the match in front of nearly 2000 fans.
"I said beforehand that the only thing that made me nervous about the possibility of not coming out on the good side of this was just a confidence thing, Moore said. "I know what happened in Washington, we played well, we won the match twice, but it's so hard when you don't get the rewards for it."
Oregon came out flat to start the match, falling behind 9-3, something senior Alaina Bergsma attributed to the team being too relaxed before Senior Night instead of getting themselves energized for the match. After Moore called timeouts on consecutive points. The Ducks proceeded to go on a 9-2 run to take a 12-11 lead that they would carry to an early lead in the match.
Neither team had much success offensively on the night – neither team hit over .200 for the set – as Oregon held UCLA to a .178 mark for the match.
"That was our goal, our team goal," senior Alaina Bergsma said of out-hitting UCLA. "We were going against one of the other best offenses in the country, and our goal was to slow them down."
Moore added that while it didn't matter how Oregon played tonight as long as they won, he saw his defense as the key against the Bruins.
"I think they're the best offense in the country," Moore said. "I don't think they'd say they played their best, but we held the best offensive team in the country to under .200, which is pretty good."
The Ducks will head to Corvallis on Friday to play their final regular season match against Oregon State before settling in to watch the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday afternoon. Both Moore and Bergsma were hopeful that the sweep of UCLA would cement Matthew Knight Arena as a host site for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, but neither believed anything was set in stone.
"One more match on Friday night, we gotta make sure we go up and take care of business," Moore said.
Would you go to a volleyball match if the Ducks were hosting the NCAA tournament?
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