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EUGENE - The University of Oregon volleyball team wrapped up its spring exhibition season with its fourth win of the campaign, this time over rival Oregon State.
The Ducks won 3-0 Tuesday evening, 25-20, 25-19, 25-19. Before the match, the two teams had planned to play a fourth set, and OSU won the fouth game by a 25-22 score.
In the first three sets, Duck newcomer and senior transfer Emilee Sisco paced the team in hitting (.320), and her nine kills was just shy of UO's leading totals from seniors Sonja Newcombe (11, .250) and Neticia Enesi (10, .120) and junior Heather Meyers (10, .130).
In the fourth set, Meyers racked up seven more kills and hit .550, whiel Sisco and Enesi added three and two more kills, respectively.
Defensively, senior Amanda Westrick also boosted the Ducks as the starting libero - one of three new starters for UO that will help replace graduated seniors Katie Swoboda (libero), Kristen Forristall (middle blocker) and Gorana Maricic (outside hitter).
Earlier in the spring, the Ducks had beaten North Idaho College, Portland and Portland State and had also scrimmaged against Western Washington in previous weekends.
Looking ahead, UO kicks off its season at home this fall in the Oregon Classic, and takes on San Francisco, Friday, August 28 at 7 p.m. The Ducks also take on Eastern Washington and Missouri State the next day, Saturday, August 29, at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. The next week, Oregon also hosts Seattle, Friday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m.
The Ducks are under the continued guidance of recent Pac-10 Coach of the Year Jim Moore who directed Oregon to a ninth-place final ranking in '08 - its 10th straight top-10 national ranking - and its second straight Sweet 16 appearance. UO’s 25-9 record last fall resulted in its most overall wins (25) since 1984 (27), and tied its best league record and finish (fourth, 11-7) since 1987. Oregon also claimed its third straight top-six consecutive league finish (fourth-’08, fifth-’07; sixth-’06) since the origin of the conference in 1986.
Here's what Moore, Sisco and Westrick had to say after Tuesday evening's match.
Jim Moore, Head Coach
"It was a good showing for us. I think mentally it was a little harder to play a game four (after winning the first three games) since it's something we're not accustomed to (compared to a normal best-of-five setting). I warned our players not to listen to the hype (about graduating three starters), because it's easy to fall into the trap of doubting yourself. I was happy that we've been playing fast and fairly smooth in the prior matches, but this is an Oregon State team that's experienced and was ranked last year so that made it a good test, something that will benefit us. We were anxious early and played in spurts because of it. Usually when that happens, the setters set higher and the hitters jump earlier which means you look out of sync. In reality, Nevena's (Djordjevic) sets didn't go much higher, and our team came together and kept its composure and beat a good team that was ready to play."
"(Among players that stepped up) Heather's (Meyers) been playing at a high level, and showed a little anxiousness early, but then got in the flow. She's playing a bigger role for us and has more things to focus on, but she's getting more comfortable with those responsibilities. Amanda (Westrick) boosted us and dug a lot of balls, and Emilee (Sisco) really played well, and her hitting is what helped us win. Teesh (Neticia Enesi) has really stepped up as a leader this spring, and again tonight - before the match she's the one that said 'Let's Go'. I also thought Dana (Stephenson) played well, especially early, as did the seniors. Overall, I was pleased with our effort."
Amanda Westrick, Sr., Defensive Specialist/Libero, Bonney Lake, Wash.
Q: It was cool to see you in a whole new role - you were everywhere on defense - what did you think of your performance vs. OSU?
AW: I have had a lot of fun adjusting to the new role, and it's exciting to being able to help out in a new way. We've made some changes to our system - we're all trying and learning new things - including switching our middle to left back. For me I'm getting better at staying focused during the matches."
Q: Has the new role in spring practice helped you develop other parts of your game?
AW: "I've learned to be more aggressive and decisive. For instance if there's any wonder about who's going to get the ball I know not to think about it and to just go. It's the same if the play leads us out of system, we have to be decisive and react instinctively."
Q: How has having Emilee (Sisco, recent transfer) helped the squad this spring?
AW: "It's cool to have someone come in from a different system since they can offer different experiences that we can benefit from. On a personal note, it's neat for me because we used to play together back in the Puget Sound Club 15's. She's another Washington native from just up the road and both of our sisters play together so we have lots of connections. She's also my pepper partner in practice right now so we gotten reacquainted quickly."
Emilee Sisco, Sr., Outside Hitter, Enumclaw, Wash.
Q: How has the transition gone so far in your first months with the team?
ES: "It's gone well on the court, and I've also had good chemistry with the team personality-wise. I came in playing pretty strong, then went down, and am now trying to build myself back up and continue to improve. It's a whole new system for me, one that expects the players to have a variety of skills and be able to adjust on the fly, but it's getting easier every day."
Q: Any particular skills you've been developing in the Duck system?
ES: "I used to be just an outside hitter, but now I'm working at playing better defensively and in different ways. Part of my adjustment is also raising my level of play overall."
Q: Coach said you played great tonight - what was your mental approach coming into tonight's match?
ES: "I wanted to come ready to help the team and play confident. I was happy with how I did, and tonight's experience will help me continue to progress the right direction."
Q: What types of technical things have you concentrated on in practice?
ES: "I need to work on getting better at changing up my hitting. Before, my line shots were my strength, but I haven't been able to do it as well lately. I also need to close my blocks and pass the ball around the blocks better."
Q: Talk about how you've adjusted to Jim's (Moore) style of coaching.
ES: "He has a very unique style of coaching - he's very positive but he also gets on me when it's needed. He has a good balance between the two and is always changing it up to keep you on toes and motivated. Technically, he's like one of the club coaches I worked with for three years - they're both always experimenting with new things."
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