I know it's football season. None of you want to talk about basketball, let alone women's volleyball. So why should any of you care? Here are some reasons why.
- The Duck women are 14-3, with wins over #9 Minnesota, #5 Stanfurd, and #15 California.
- The Pac-10 is loaded with talent, with seven teams in the Top 25, and every team but Arizona State receiving Top 25 votes.
- Washington is relevant. Not only are they relevant, but they're a serious national title threat. And any sport where the Huskies are better than us is a good thing. Because there's nothing I like more than knocking the Huskies off their pedestal.
- Three words. Tiny. Spandex. Shorts.
- The Ducks victory over #5 Stanfurd on Saturday was their first win over the volleyball juggernaut Cardinal since 1989. Incidentally, the late 1980s was the last time the Ducks weren't a volleyball doormat before Jim Moore came around.
- Volleyball games are fast paced, and action packed. Full matches only last between an hour and fifteen minutes to two hours: you could cheer on the Ducks, or or watch Ghost Rider on TNT. Your call.
- Did I mention the tiny spandex shorts yet? There are tiny spandex shorts. Lots of tiny spandex shorts.
Now that I have your attention, here is everything you need to know about the 2009 Duck women's volleyball team.
Coach Jim Moore is in his fifth year at Oregon, and has a great reputation for taking programs from sub-.500 levels to elite status. His resumé includes the 1993 DII national championship at Northern Michigan, and stops at Kansas State, Texas, and Chico State. His five years at Oregon include two consecutive NCAA Regional appearances and an 80-53 record.
Sonja Newcombe, senior outside hitter - Sonja was Coach Moore's first Top 50 recruit at Oregon, and she hasn't disappointed. A four-year starter, Newcombe was named All Pac-10 Honorable Mention as a freshman, and was named to the first team last year as a junior. She is the career UO points leader, and also ranks in the Top 10 in kills, digs, and block assists. In the Ducks' win over Stanfurd, she tied her career high with 24 kills, and set a career high in digs with 26, and was named Pac-10 Player of the Week. If you know one name on the team, make it Sonja.
Neticia Enesi, senior middle blocker - The senior from the Dalles had one of the best individual seasons in Duck history last season, hitting at a .389 percentage - a UO record - and was named to the USA A2 National Team, as well as receiving All-American honors. She ranks fouth all-time in points and sixth in hitting percentage.
Nevena Djordjevic, senior setter - Nevena, the setter for the Serbian National Team, stands to become UO's all-time leader in assists this season. Her 1,357 assists last season ranks 4th all-time in UO history.
Heather Meyers, junior outside hitter - A three-year starter, Heather is the most powerful performer, ranking in the Top 10 in service aces. Along with her booming serves, the ranks third all-time in hitting percentage at .306. She was named Pac-10 Honorable Mention as a freshman, with a .347 hitting percentage and averaging .41 aces per set.
Dana Stephenson, sophomore outside hitter - Dana has big shoes to fill replacing Gorana "G" Maricic, but has performed well, with a career-high 13 kills against Oregon State, and 4 key blocks in the win over Stanfurd.
Kellie Kawasaki, freshman libero - One of two freshmen starters along with Katherine Fischer, Kawasaki has arguably bigger shoes to fill than Stephenson in replacing all-time digs leader Katie Swoboda. She had a career high 19 digs against Stanfurd.
Katherine Fischer, freshman outside hitter - One of five highly-touted freshman on the Ducks roster, Fischer had a huge game in the upset of the Cardinal, with 12 kills, 16 digs, and 3 aces.
Amanda Westrick, senior libero - one of the team's best servers, she is eighth all-time in aces per set.
Haley Jacob, freshman libero - recorded 16 digs in the Ducks' upset of then-ninth-ranked Minnesota.
Jocelyn Levig, freshman outside hitter - had 11 kills against Utah, and a .625 hitting percentage against Arizona.
Lauren Gross, freshman outside hitter - went 4-4 hitting against Seattle on September 2nd.
Emilee Sisco, senior outside hitter - has seen action in 8 matches this season, with 4 kills against E. Washington.
Rhiannon Tooker, sophomore middle blocker - has seen limited action this year with Neticia Enesi's stellar play.
Speaking from experience, you don't need to know all the rules of volleyball to watch it and understand it. I knew next to nothing when I attended my first Duck volleyball game, and had a blast. Here are some essential rules:
- The match is best-of-5 sets, with the first four sets played to 25 points, and the fifth set to 15 points. You must win by two, so sets can go beyond 25 or 15 if it's close.
- The ball is served in from behind the end line, and then a team gets three touches to get it back over the net. The first two touches are usally digs or sets, getting the ball in position for the third touch, a kill attempt.
- If a kill attempt is partially blocked and kept in play, the block does not count as a touch.
- The libero - the player wearing the different color jersey from the rest of the team - may not block or attack the ball above net height. The libero is a defensive specialist, patrolling the back row and gaining digs.
- Players may not touch the net, though a ball hitting the net is still in play.
Well, there you go: a primer into the now twelfth-ranked Oregon women's volleyball team. The Ducks are in SoCal this week taking on #13 UCLA and #18 USC, before returning home for the Civil War on Friday, October 30th at Mac Court. Let's Pack the Pit! AtQ meetup anyone?
Oh, and I like beer. There. Now it's a real Tako Tuesday.