EUGENE - The No. 20 University of Oregon volleyball team capped its preseason Saturday night with a straight-set win over a UO Alumni Team that also had a little help from several current Ducks.
UO staked a 25-9, 25-12, 25-14 victory at Matthew Knight Arena a week before its season opener at No. 24 Ohio State.
"I was happy with how we played," eighth-year head coach Jim Moore said. "This was a great event for us and the fans. Having the alumni be a big part of our program today is so important, and more so than winning and losing. It's really rewarding to be part of a program long enough to have them come back year and year."
Offensively, team leaders in kills included sophomore Liz Brenner (10), senior Katherine Fischer (10), junior Ariana Williams (6) and senior Alaina Bergsma (5). Percentage-wise, top hitters were Williams (.416), Fischer (.375), freshman Maddie Magee (.333) and Brenner (.286).
On defense, sophomore Natalie Bookout Gonzalez led the digs category (8), and among the five Ducks that logged aces, two each logged a pair - Williams and Brenner.
"There's still a lot of things we need to improve on," Moore said. "We haven't worked on our hitting and serving like we normally do, but we will. One of the first things we've have been focusing on is our chemistry, and that's come along really well. The garbage plays when the ball gets deflected funky ways are the ones that teams that go deep in the tourney make. I don't think we missed one of those tonight - that was most important. We've been doing that well in the practice, too."
Look ahead, Oregon opens its regular season on the road at a pair of tournaments in Columbus, Ohio (Aug. 24-25) and Athens, Ohio (Aug. 31-Sept. 2) that feature No. 24 Ohio State and No. 13 Kentucky, respectively.
In the Sports Import D.C. Koehl Classic in Columbus, UO will first face Toledo next Friday at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time. On Saturday, Oregon returns to play Houston at 10:30 a.m. PT, and host Ohio State at 4:30 p.m. PT.
The following weekend in Athens, UO plays one match each day vs. Western Carolina (8/31, 1 p.m. PT), No. 13 Kentucky (9/1, 10 a.m. PT) and Ohio (9/2, 8 a.m. PT).
More information from Oregon's Ohio trip is available at the www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com and www.OhioBobcats.com websites.
"I'm pleased with where we're at and where we're going," Moore said, "and I know we will get better. You can see progressive improvement every day. We don't need to be great yet, but build and execute when we can. Out hitting wasn't outstanding, but I'm OK with that as long as it's good in December. Our blocking is getting better - it's been a weakness in the past - but we're better than we've been the last two years. Our serving isn't at the level as it's been recently, and is something we need to improve on. "
In early September, the Ducks return home to kick off their 12-match home schedule with a pair of non-conference tilts vs. UC Santa Barbara (Wed., September 5) and St. Mary's (Mon., Sept. 10). Both teams sported top-55 RPI national ratings and impressive records last year - UC Santa Barbara (#53, 19-12) and St. Mary's (#55, 17-12).
The remainder of UO's home schedule - all league contests - includes last year's national champion (UCLA), two more NCAA second-round qualifiers (Stanford, Washington), and two other postseason first-round advancers (Arizona, California).
Fans can renew or buy new season tickets online anytime or visit the Duck ticket office or call (1-800-WEB-FOOT) during normal weekday business hours.
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