Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Ducks follow the attack of Alaina Bergsma and Ariana WIlliams as they win in four sets in front of a highly partisan, Nebraska crowd.
The Ducks came into the Elite 8 against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, already a midst their best season in program history. After the first set was dominated by the Huskers it looked as though the dream season was coming to an end. However, the Ducks were able to right the ship and win the match going away 15-25. 25-22, 25-18, 25-17.
The Huskers hit an astonishing .621 in the first set as their constant attack lead to 19 kills in the first set. Oregon got a healthy dose of Meghan Haggerty and Gina Mancuso as they consistently pounded the Oregon defense. The Ducks just didn't look like they had it together as the Huskers continually found holes in the Duck defense and killed the ball exceptionally well. The Ducks simply looked like the crowd, opponent and the moment may have just been too big for them as they fell in the first set 15-25.
Oregon started the set in an inauspicious manner as well as Oregon started with a service error. However, a pair of kills by Alaina Bergsma started up an Oregon run that saw them get out to an early 4 point lead. Bergsma had 7 of her game high 23 kills in the second set, setting up the Ducks with a 25-22 set win and a 1-1 tie going into the intermission. Bergsma was complimented on the attack by Ariana Williams who capped the set with an attack that Nebraska couldn't handle.
The third set was up for grabs through the first 15 points until Liz Brenner got up for the block giving Oregon a 3 point lead. Nebraska would battle back, getting within a point but that was when the Huskers started to unravel. The Ducks would get out on a run taking a 17-10 lead on the strength of Bergsma and Wililiams' attack. Oregon won the third set as Kat Fischer's attack found the floor for a 25-18 set win.
The fourth and final set was quite similar to the third set as the teams went back and forth, trading points. the Ducks would again have to overcome adversity as the Huskers took a lead late in the set, leading 16-14. The Ducks though would rattle off 11 of the next 14 points closing out the Huskers with an ace from Paige Hubl. The Ducks didn't hit particularly well but their defense was stifling, causing Nebraska to only hit .028 in the final set and committed 8 errors which ultimately was their undoing.
The Ducks continue this journey into uncharted territory as they will have to face the #1 seed Penn State Nittany Lions in the Final Four. They have a few days off before they travel to Louisville on the 13th. If the Ducks of the last three sets show up against Penn State, they have a really good chance to make it to the championship game. Bergsma is playing like the conference player of the year and is a match-up problem for any team they face.