The Ducks are 3 sets away from a National Title - Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
The Ducks lost the first set but came back to defeat the top seeded Penn State Nittany Lions in Louisville.
The Ducks continue the journey into the unknown. Oregon's first final four opponent could not have been a larger challenge as Oregon faced off against the top seed of the tournament, the Penn State Nittany Lions. It seemed from early on that the moment was simply too big for the first time Ducks but after regrouping after the first set, the Ducks took the next three sets to win the semifinal match up 21-25, 30-28, 25-22, 25-19.
Early on, the Ducks seemed to struggle with Penn State's front line as the Lions tallied 6 blocks in the first set. The Ducks simply couldn't get over the hump until Ariana Williams put the Ducks in the lead 20-19. Penn State would only allow one more point as they went on a run to close out the Ducks in the first set 25-21. Oregon committed 11 errors and basically handed the set over to a team who looked to be simply more talented than the Ducks in the first set.
Oregon seemed to be more focused in the second set as they jumped out to a big lead 20-10. The Lions seemed dead in the water but slowly started to work their way back into the set. They forced extra points on the Ducks and even had the advantage with the serve looking to take a commanding 2-0 set lead but the Ducks took advantage of a PSU service error and then a kill by senior Liz Brenner to give the Ducks a tie at intermission 1-1. Even with their backs against the wall, the Lady Ducks never blinked and turned away the Lions twice in the extra points retaking the lead and eventually winning the set.
The Lions would also suffer a big loss as Micha Hancock would suffer a lower leg injury which seemed to hamper her throughout the rest of the match. Oregon would take advantage as they took charge in the third set, getting ahead 15-11 on another kill from Ariana Williams. PSU would battle back tying up the set once again at 21 when Hancock would set up Ariel Scott for the kill. The Ducks would take control from that point as Kat Fischer and Williams would close out a pivotal third set giving Oregon a big 2-1 set lead.
The set lead seemed to energize the Ducks going into the fourth and final set. Oregon never trailed in the final set as they won 25-19 to secure their first trip to the national championship. For the second time in the match, Oregon would take a 20-10 lead but would not surrender this lead as they continued to get a strong attack from conference player of the year Alaina Bergsma.
The Ducks go on to face the Texas Longhorns in the National Championship. Texas was taken to 5 sets against Michigan. It can be said that the Ducks have already beaten the toughest team in the tournament in Penn State but it is doubtful that coach Jim Moore will let the Ducks rest. There are no guarantees as to what will happen next but either way it will be a program first. The Ducks and Longhorns will face off Saturday at 4 PM to battle for the national championship.