#6 Oregon (23-5, 13-4 Pac-12) took down #18 Arizona State (24-5, 13-5 Pac-12) in four sets on Friday, 25-18, 26-24, 10-25, 25-23 in Tempe. In doing so, the Ducks avenged their only loss in this season by a sweep and handed the Sun Devils their first home loss of the season.
These teams match up very well and both are excellent at defense, so a strong start was vital for Oregon. The Ducks came out strong in the first set, advancing to a 13-8 lead in the middle of the 1st.
After the match, head coach Matt Ulmer noted, “I thought everybody came in locked into the game plan. From point one we were on our game plan; which, we have done a really poor job of that. So that was really exciting to see and I thought that put a lot of pressure on them.”
The Sun Devils came to within a point, but an Oregon 6-1 ended the first set in favor of the Ducks on a kill by Karson Bacon.
ASU played more closely in the second set, but the Ducks distanced themselves by mid-set and pulled ahead by six on this full-on Hannah Pukis kill (which we’ve been seeing more of from Pukis in the past month or so):
The Sun Devils are too good to be kept out of a set for long, and they picked up a head of steam to tie set 2 at 22-22. Oregon toyed with a set point but then put the set away on their next opportunity.
Then in set three, things kind of totally fell apart for the Ducks. It was almost like a different team came out on the court. Oregon fell behind by a wide margin and just could not put it together.
Their problems centered largely on Oregon’s difficulty in containing ASU star Marta Levinska. “We knew where it was going and we still couldn’t stop it, so that was really frustrating,” coach Ulmer said. “We’re a pretty good defensive team and take a lot of pride in that, and the fact that she was doing what she was doing, nobody’s done that to us this year. But despite that, we were able to do a much better job in the fourth on her.”
The Ducks adjusted and got back into their game plan, performing much better in the fourth set. They took a four point lead mid-set and were able to hold off the Sun Devil rally attempt.
Oregon won this match while only hitting .175, which you’re not going to see very often against any team, much less a top-20 squad.
ASU’s Marta Levinska had her fingerprints all over this match, leading both sides with 26 kills.
Morgan Lewis led the Oregon attack with 16 kills, while Gabby Gonzales notched a double-double of 13 kills and 11 digs. Hannah Pukis also had a double-double with 39 assists and led the Ducks with 19 digs. Georgia Muphy pulled out 18 digs, and this match saw the return of Daley McClellan to the rotation with 10 digs and two service aces.
After the match, coach UImer said, “Gabby, Daley, and George are doing such a great job in serve receive. That’s a really tough serving team, and they handled that really well.”
Oregon Ducks volleyball will take on the Arizona Wildcats today at 11:00 am PT. You can watch the match on Arizona Live Stream.