Lauren Plum's return to the lineup punctuated a strong performance by the Ducks. Oregon started fast and never really looked back as they looked strong in nearly all phases of the game as the Ducks defeated the Utes in straight sets, 25-15, 25-19, 25-22. Oregon is on a bit of a roll now, winning 3 of their last 4 as they look ahead to a quick trip down to the bay area to face Stanford and California.
Oregon's attack was over .400 in two of three sets against the Utes as they only committed 11 errors for the match and consistently finding the floor. Liz Brenner paced the Ducks with 20 kills while hitting just below .600 for the match.
Coach Jim Moore was happy with the attack saying, "The hitters hit smart. They didn't try to terminate every ball. They gave us a chance."
Tatum Norton also set a career mark with 17 digs, setting up the offense and getting Williams and Brenner swings at the net. Utah is usually pretty strong defensively and for Oregon to hit so well against the Utes bodes well as Oregon turns the corner, heading into the back end of their schedule.
Plum as inserted in the match primarily to serve as coach Moore is not ready to have her run the offense just yet. "It's getting better. Lauren has been our toughest server all year. We could let her serve for Ari [Williams] and let Naya [Crittenden] go in."
Even in Plum's absence, the Oregon offense has found a decent rhythm with Shellsy Ashen directing the Ducks. Against Utah, Ashen assisted 41 times and has been finding a way to get the ball to Oregon's hitters.
Concerning Moore with this match was how Oregon seemed to not finish well in the third set. At one point, they had an 8 point lead at 19-11 before letting the Utes back into the set, the lead shrinking to 23-22 before closing out with the last two points.
"I want to combine tonight's start with Friday night's finish." Moore said, "It was great to get a good start because we have not had a good start in a long time."
Still the only thing that seems alarming for the Ducks is service errors. They have improved as fewer are going into the net, but the Ducks seemed to have trouble keeping the serve inside the lines, with 7 service errors. Amanda Benson seemed to revert to her early season form, causing three of those errors on her own.
As mentioned, the Ducks go down to play the #7 Cardinal and California which is always a tough trip to make. The meeting in Palo Alto will mark the fourth top ten opponent the Ducks have faced this season and the third in conference.