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Oregon Volleyball: Ducks Defeat Washington

After a choppy start, Oregon downs the Huskies in four sets

ATQ-EXCLUSIVE Volleyball Morgan L. Blackwell

Oregon Ducks volleyball (13-1. 3-0 Pac-12) hosted the Washington Huskies (9-5, 0-3 Pac-12) on Friday night, defeating the Huskies in four sets, 21-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-22.

As was the case last Friday, the Ducks started unevenly in the first set. The Huskies surged immediately ahead with a 3-0 run to start the set, and while the Ducks tied the game at 6-6, a combination of poor serving, blocking, and hitting saw Washington pull ahead mid-set.

Oregon battled, tying at 13-13 and 19-19, but their game was not crisp, and Washington took the lead for the rest of the set. Even the normally reliable Ducks defense struggled - not because it was bad, but because it was a bit out of sorts.

Oregon could not close, and a 4-1 Washington run ended set 1 in favor of the Huskies.

The Ducks started the second set with a 5-0 run, and looked more like their usual selves from the second set on.

However, the Huskies didn’t let go and tied in the middle of the set, 13-13.

Washington tied again at 14, but Oregon asserted themselves by ending the set with a 7-0 run that included a pair of kills up the middle by Kara McGhee, and four service aces (including three in a row) from Hannah Pukis.

The Huskies inched ahead in the very beginning of set 3, but Gabby Gonzales destroyed with a huge kill to tie the set 2-2, leading a run that included kills from Morgan Lewis and Mimi Colyer. The Ducks pulled ahead from there on out, going up six at 15-9 with a kill up the middle from Kara McGhee, and another kill from McGhee after a great rally to go up 23-19. The Ducks ended set 3 with a yet another Kara McGhee kill.

In the fourth set, the Ducks appeared to be in control, but Washington was not going away, and kept pace with Oregon. Whenever the Ducks would pull ahead, the Huskies would catch up. After tying the set at 14-14, Oregon finally pulled ahead for good. The Huskies challenged a Gonzales kill that put the Ducks up 21-18 - and won the challenge - only to have Oregon coach Matt Ulmer protest their case, and the successful Washington challenge was reversed. The Ducks then took the lead to set and match point.

Although Oregon steadily improved during the match, the team hitting was .239 for the match, which is not stellar. The Ducks had 7 blocks to 8 for the Huskies. Oregon was also hurt by 15 service errors, but had 10 aces to 2 for Washington.

Gabby Gonzales stepped up this game. She handled and lot of the service load, in addition to being the kills leader with 15, and her 10 digs made her one of three Oregon players with a double-double. Mimi Colyer had a double-double with 14 kills and 14 digs, and Hannah Pukis came up with 48 assists and 10 digs. Kara McGhee finished with 10 kills, and Georgia Murphy made several really outstanding defensive plays en route to being the digs leader with 15.

Oregon’s home winning streak stands at 20 in a row. Next up today is #7 Washington State, and the Ducks can’t expect to have the slow starts and missteps that they’ve had at home against the Beavers and Huskies and expect to beat a top-10 team. The will be the first top-10 match at MKA in 11 years, and should be a very exciting match-up.

Oregon volleyball hosts the Washington State Cougars today at 12:00 pm PT. The game can be viewed on Pac-12 Insider.

Coach Matt Ulmer and Gabby Gonzales had this to say after the Friday match: