Seniors Lead Ducks Past Trojans
The 6th-ranked Ducks celebrated Senior Night with a triumph in four sets on Tuesday against the 25th-ranked USC in front of 3,497 fans at Matthew Knight Arena. Morgan Lewis, in her final regular-season home match, showcased a stellar performance by tying her career-high with 19 kills and an impressive .486 hitting percentage. The Ducks secured the victory with set scores of 25-14, 24-26, 25-16, and 25-22.
Contributions from Mimi Colyer, who added 11 kills with 10 digs, Gabby Gonzales with nine kills and eight digs, and Kara McGhee with eight kills and seven blocks, underscored the team’s depth.
Although the Ducks started strong, they faced a temporary setback in the second set. However, led by the stellar play of Lewis, they regrouped and regained momentum, ultimately winning in four sets.
Senior leaders Lewis, Gonzales, and McGhee were not the sole contributors. Karson Bacon impressed with five kills and three blocks, Hannah Pukis demonstrated her playmaking skills with 47 assists and 15 digs, Georgia Murphy contributed 15 digs with three aces, and Elise Ferreira added to Oregon’s success with another ace among the team’s 11 for the night.
USC played without Skylar Fields, the Pac-12’s leading attacker averaging 5.23 kills per set, who was sidelined due to injury.
Lewis initiated the match with the first two kills for Oregon, although they initially trailed 6-4. A pivotal moment came when, after a service error by USC, Pukis took over the serve, leading Oregon to a remarkable 13-0 run and a commanding 17-6 lead. The set featured two aces, three kills by Lewis, and two kills plus two blocks by McGhee. Despite a late surge by USC to get within 18-11, Oregon answered with a 4-0 run to close out the set.
The second set mirrored the first, with Oregon initially trailing 6-4 before an 8-2 run gave them a 12-8 lead. However, USC responded with a five-point streak when the Ducks were up 13-9. The set remained closely contested, with USC leading 19-16. Oregon rallied back to tie at 22-22 with key contributions from Lewis and Colyer. While USC appeared to clinch the set at 24-24, a successful challenge by Ulmer nullified the point. However, USC secured the next two points to even the match.
The third set saw Oregon taking an early lead with back-to-back kills by Lewis. A five-point streak, including three kills by Colyer, pushed the Ducks ahead 8-3. Although USC rallied to within 10-9, Oregon maintained control, with Colyer’s consecutive kills giving them an 18-12 cushion. McGhee closed out the set with back-to-back kills.
Lewis, who hadn’t reached 19 kills in a match before this season, achieved the feat for the third time on Tuesday. Oregon led 5-1 in the third set, extending it to 8-2 after an ace by Daley McClellan. Despite USC closing the gap to 9-7, key contributions from Gonzales, Ferreira, and McGhee extended Oregon’s lead to 12-7. Bacon’s kills secured leads of 17-12 and 19-16. Although USC mounted a 5-1 run to lead 21-20, Lewis responded with consecutive kills, setting up match point. The Ducks sealed the victory on a USC error.
Season Closes with Sweep of the Beavers
After a senior night beatdown of USC, the Oregon volleyball team concluded its regular season with a decisive 3-0 victory (25-18, 25-20, 25-20) over Oregon State on Saturday afternoon at Gill Coliseum. Mimi Colyer delivered an outstanding performance, notching a season-high 21 kills, while the Ducks showcased a strong defensive effort with 11.0 total team blocks in the sweep. With this win, Oregon heads into the postseason with an impressive 26-5 overall record, including a noteworthy 16-4 mark in the Pac-12.
Colyer surpassed her previous season high of 20 kills, a feat she had achieved twice during non-conference play. She exhibited remarkable efficiency with a .425 hitting percentage against the Beavers, contributing 23 points to the sweep. Colyer also made valuable contributions with five digs, two blocks, and an ace.
Hannah Pukis orchestrated the offense with precision, providing 38 assists along with seven digs. The Ducks demonstrated their offensive prowess, hitting .300 or higher for the 15th time this season. Morgan Lewis and Karson Bacon added seven and six kills, respectively, complementing the team’s balanced attack.
Defensively, libero Georgia Murphy showcased her skills with a match-leading 12 digs, closely followed by Gabby Gonzales with 11 digs of her own. Kara McGhee dominated at the net with a match-high six blocks, while Bacon contributed five. The Ducks held the Beavers to a .167 hitting percentage, demonstrating their defensive prowess.
In the opening set, Oregon State (11-19, 6-14) initially took a 7-4 lead, but the Ducks responded with a resilient performance. The set saw 11 ties, the last one at 14-all, before the Ducks took control. Oregon orchestrated a pivotal 6-1 run to lead 20-15, concluding with a tandem block by Lewis and McGhee. Although the home team narrowed the gap to three, with UO leading 21-18, the Ducks sealed the set with a 4-0 run, culminating in Colyer’s eighth kill.
The second set followed a similar script, with Oregon dominating early and building a substantial lead. The Ducks led by as many as eight points, reaching 19-11 after a Bacon-Pukis block. Despite OSU’s efforts to save set points, Lewis secured a kill for a 2-0 match lead.
In the third set, the Beavers again took an early lead at 7-4, but Oregon responded emphatically with an 8-1 run. Colyer concluded the run with a decisive kill, giving the Ducks a 12-8 lead. Oregon maintained a comfortable cushion throughout the set and, with a 23-20 lead, Colyer and McGhee delivered kills to clinch the sweep for the Ducks.
Oregon will learn its seed for the NCAA tournament tonight at 3pm. The early rounds of the single-elimination tournament will be played at home arenas with the finals to take place in Tampa, FL on Sunday Dec 17.