Hosting their first NCAA Tournament match in 26 years, the fifth-ranked Oregon Ducks came out firing and attacked their way to a straight set win over Northern Colorado in front of over 3000 fans at Matthew Knight Arena. The Ducks hit .318 for the duration of the match, and held the Big Sky Champions to a dismal .107 mark to move on to the second round of play.
"One of the things that was said," Head Coach Jim Moore said, "is that we're beyond where we were last year, which is a good thing to get over that, but I don't think anyone's really focused on that."
The match began with both teams feeling the other out – playing to an 11-11 tie midway through the first set. Oregon would then end the set on a 14-4 run, one of multiple stretches where Northern Colorado Head Coach Lyndsey Oates said they were simply "outmatched" by the Pac-12 runners-up.
The second and third sets were played much closer by the two teams, but Oregon was able to keep the Bears at bay – the Ducks would have led the match wire-to-wire if not for a service error to start the third set. Senior Alaina Bergsma led Oregon with 15 kills, with Liz Brenner and Ariana Williams added in nine apiece. Moore was appreciative of Bergsma's effort Friday night, but wants setter Lauren Plum to spread the ball around the floor more often.
"I think for round one a little too reliant on Alaina," Moore said. "I'd like to distribute that a little more."
"It may be nitpicking, but I'm not interested in winning the first round. I don't mean to sound arrogant or cocky or anything, but I think they're really good, and I think we need to play that way every single second. So my expectations for them are really high."
Having moved on to the round of 32, Oregon will face the #13 Dayton Flyers out of the Atlantic-10 Conference at 8:00 Pacific Time on Saturday night. Dayton had to come from behind to beat Pepperdine in the session's first match Friday, so the Ducks should come in with the fresher legs as they look to advance to their first Sweet 16 since 2008.