Led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Alaina Bergsma and Pac-12 Fall Scholar Athlete of the Year Kat Fischer, Oregon volleyball is set to host one of sixteen NCAA Tournament regional brackets as play begins tonight at Matthew Knight Arena.
The fifth-ranked Ducks will face off against the Northern Colorado Bears in their first round match up, and the Big Sky Champions bring recent NCAA experience to the fold as the look to pull off the upset Friday at 8:00. In fact, both teams were in the Hawaii regional last season, where both lost in the first round – Oregon to Colorado State and Northern Colorado to the hosting Hawaii Warriors. The Ducks and Bears last matched up in 2004, with Oregon claiming a 3-1 victory.
Additionally, Oregon swept the Portland State Vikings 3-0 in a match this season, while Northern Colorado lost both of their Big Sky league matches with PSU.
For Oregon to advance to the second round of tournament play, they simply need to focus on what they've done best all season and keep their eyes from looking ahead to a very tough Saturday opponent. Northern Colorado is led by sophomore outside hitter Tambre Haddock and senior outside hitter Kelley Arnold, so playing the kind of defense they did in their sweep of UCLA last week will be key for Oregon.
The early match of the Oregon Regional pits the #13 Dayton Flyers against the Pepperdine Waves at 5:30 on Friday night and figures to be the more exciting of the two matches. Some have called the Oregon regional the toughest in the tournament because of these two teams, and Head Coach Jim Moore said earlier this week that Oregon's potential second round match could be against a team tougher than the one they'd face in the sweet 16 (I can't find the link, first person to find it earns my undying gratitude and all of my Gorby Bucks).
Dayton comes in with a streak of 60 consecutive weeks ranked in the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) and an 18-match winning streak. Pepperdine arrives with two All-West Coast Conference performers in Jazmine Orozco and Kellie Woolever and boast wins over Florida State and Ohio State as well as a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Wildcats.
The Flyers and Waves met earlier this season in Dayton, with the hosts taking the match 3-1.