After an impressive 26-6 season that saw them advance all the way to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, there’s a lot of excitement surrounding Oregon Volleyball heading into 2023.
Although the season itself is still almost nine months away, this year could hold big things for the team, which along with their overall record went a perfect 14-0 at home with a 17-3 conference record.
One thing that jumps out about head coach Matt Ulmer’s squad is the relative youth and how little they will be losing in the offseason.
Nine underclassmen took the floor for the Ducks in 2022, including the sensational Mimi Colyer, who was a true Freshman. Colyer was an All-American selection and the National Freshman of the Year, the first ever for the program.
Even of the upperclassmen, five are Juniors, including All-American selection Hannah Pukis. The team chemistry the Ducks were able to compile during the course of the season should stay well intact with so many pieces returning.
To top it off, Oregon is adding elite blocker Kara McGhee as a graduate transfer from Baylor. McGhee is a three-time all-conference force who averaged 3.25 points, 2.41 kills, and 1.49 blocks per set, the latter being the eighth highest average in the nation.
The biggest area of improvement that the Ducks will need to focus on in 2023 is their performance against more elite competition. Although they charged through the majority of their unranked opponents over the course of 2022, they went an overall 3-4 against Top 25 teams.
On the one hand, this can be seen as encouraging as the majority of their losses were to higher-tier teams. On the other hand, they are a Top 25 team themselves and as such have to be able to perform like one against the best of the best.
With Ulmer receiving a contract extension and Colyer poised to become a historic player at UO, however, there is a lot more upside than anything else and volleyball fans should be in for a real treat in 2023.