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NEW ORLEANS – The No. 16 University of Oregon volleyball team (11-0) fought off a challenge from returning NCAA qualifier Florida International (5-6) en route to a 3-1 victory Saturday in its second Allstate Sugar Bowl Collegiate Classic match.
The Ducks reset their school longest win streak record with their 11th straight victory after posting three, 10-0 runs under sixth-year head coach Jim Moore in 2006, ’07 and ‘09.
UO bounced back after a 26-24 first-set loss to take the next three sets, 25-22, 26-24, 25-23, against the Eagles who were NCAA tourney second-round advancers in ’09.
“This was another good test with the Pac-10 season right around the corner,” Moore said. “They’re a team that has lots of experienced international players and has a good shot of winning their conference and making a third straight NCAA trip. They forced us to adjust and work, and we found a way to win.”
Oregon sported four hitters with double-digit kill figures for the second time this season – sophomore Katherine Fischer (15), freshman middle blocker Ariana Williams (14), senior outside hitter Heather Meyers (13) and sophomore outside hitter Alaina Bergsma (13).
Williams posted UO’s highest hitting mark of the season (.722) – her seventh contest over .300 - and topped Fischer’s previous 2010 best (.647) against American last week. The Riverside, Calif., native Williams also paced the blocks column with Meyers (2) for the fourth and second times in 2010, respectively.
Fischer led UO in kills (15) for a team-leading sixth time this year; added two aces and a block; and her 14 digs notched her fourth double-double of ’10 and eighth of her career.
Freshman setter Lauren Plum tied her second-highest assist total (53) with her other similar totals (55, 53) coming in five-set matches last week. The Poway, Calif., native notched her first double of the season with her season high 12 digs (four more than her previous best).
Sophomore libero Haley Jacob topped UO in digs (15) for the ninth time this year, and sophomore defensive specialist Kellie Kawasaki paced the aces column with Meyers (3) for the second and eighth times in ’10, respectively. Meyers also came up with 10 digs to seal her four double-double of the year and 17th career-wise.
Team-wise, UO’s hitting mark eclipsed .300 for the eighth time (.313), and the Ducks held advantages in kills (64-55), assists (62-47), aces (11-10) and digs (63-51), and the Panthers posted a 7.5-5.0 edge in blocks.
Individually, FIU’s category leaders included Jessica Gehrke (15 kills, .361, 17 points), Una Trkulja (15 kills), Natalia Valentin (40 assists), Rachel Fernandez (16 kills) and Ines Medved (4 blocks).
Looking ahead, Oregon returns to Tulane’s Fogelman Arena and plays its tourney finale Saturday night vs. Sam Houston State at 4 p.m. PT (6 p.m. CT).
Live stats will be available via the www.TulaneGreenWave.com website http://www.tulanegreenwave.com/sports/w-volley/spec-rel/2010-allstate-classic.html URL link.
In the first set, FIU got out to an early 6-3 lead, but UO fought back to tie the contest, 13-13, and the teams stayed within two points of each other until FIU went up 23-20. Oregon fought right back to tie the match, 24-24 on kills by Fischer and Williams and two opponent attack errors, but then allowed two Panther kills in the 26-24 loss. UO only hit .111 for the set and had seven hitting errors compared to 11 kills.
In the second set, UO shot out to a 9-3 lead, and extended its lead to 13-5, 17-11 and 20-13. FIU came back to close within three, 21-18, but Bergsma’s sixth and final kill of the set (on eight attempts) sealed Oregon’s 25-21 decision, as the Ducks hit .400 for the set.
In the third set, UO staked one of its biggest comebacks of the season after trailing 13-10, 18-13 and 23-18. A kill by Oregon junior middle blocker Rhiannon Tooker was followed by four Panther attack errors, and kills by Bergsma and Williams in the Ducks’ 26-24 ultimate decision. Fischer connected on seven kills in the set, and had a key ace late in the closing run to make it 23-20.
In the fourth set, the teams battled back and forth early with the last tie at 15-15. UO then went up by as much as five, 23-18, on a Plum ace, then survived a run by FIU when it pulled within 24-23. After a Duck timeout, Meyers ended the match with a kill – her team-best fifth of the set.
Earlier in the tourney, UO beat Tulane, 3-0, Friday night by a 25-23, 25-21, 25-17 count.
QUICK QUACKS: In his sixth season at the Oregon helm, head coach Jim Moore sports a 106-60 UO coaching mark and 458-216 overall record in his 22nd season overall. … UO is 62-3 in non-conference regular season action under Moore … Meyers remained third all-time for Oregon in career aces and now has 147 (and is two away from second place (149)). … Her 13 kills Saturday gave her 1,128 career-wise, still ninth-most all-time for UO (eighth is 1,174) … … Oregon had a string of 14 straight sets won ended in the first set Saturday morning. … Oregon lost the first set of a match for the first time this season, and played past 25 points in a set for only the second and third times this year (the other came in the first set vs. Portland this week, a 27-25 win).
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