FRESNO, Calif. – The No. 20 Oregon volleyball team takes to the road this weekend for three matches at the Fresno State Classic, Friday and Saturday. The Ducks will play CSU Bakersfield, Friday at 7:30 p.m., along with Belmont (10 a.m.) and Fresno State (7:30 p.m.), Saturday.
The trip will be the team’s last before heading into Pac-12 play against Oregon State, Sept. 25 in Corvallis.
After the match against Seattle earlier this week, head coach Jim Moore spoke to the schedule breakdown as well as the team’s progression, noting that the season is still very early and continued improvement is the goal each week.
“We need some time in the gym,” Moore said. “There have been a lot of matches crammed together here in the first three weeks. (After the weekend) we have a whole week to work on the things we need to work on for when Pac-12 play starts.”
That’s not to say the Ducks are looking past this weekend’s opponents. They will open up with a dangerous CSU Bakersfield team which is 5-2 this season and has only lost in five-set matches.
About the Roadrunners: CSU Bakersfield is 5-2 heading into the tournament with its only two losses coming in five-set contests. Debora Araujo leads the team with 4.04 kills per set and also amassing 3.07 digs per set. Opposite side hitter Molly O’Hagan was named WAC Player of the week for her strong play at the James Madison Classic. Oregon leads the series 3-1, last defeating the Roadrunners in three sets in 2007.
About the Bruins: Belmont holds a 3-6 record in the early going of the 2013 season but is coming off a 3-0 win against Chattanooga, Tuesday. The team’s offense has run through Jessica Vestal and Scarlet Gable who have 389 and 312 attack attempts, respectively, compared to the next-highest total of 155 by Allison McCoy. This will be the first meeting between Oregon and Belmont.
About the Bulldogs: Fresno State is 2-4 this season and is coming off a 1-2 record at the Portland Nike Invitational last weekend. Outside hitter Fresno State opened the tourney with a 3-0 win over Portland, then fell to a pair of NCAA Regional Semifinalist returnees in No. 25 BYU (3-0) and Wichita State (3-1). Oregon had defeated Fresno State in the last four meetings, most recently in 2010.
Plum Sets Career Assists Record: Senior setter Lauren Plum set the all-time assists record earlier this season during Oregon’s match against Michigan. In the third set, Plum notched assist number 4,401 on a kill by Liz Brenner. The previous record was held by Nevena Djordjevic at 4,400.
1,000 Point Club: Senior Ariana Williams reached the 1,000-point threshold earlier this season at Michigan State and is the eighth person in Oregon history to do so. Gorana Maricic sits ahead of Williams in seventh on the all-time career points list with 1,217.
Climbing the Top 10: Liz Brenner cracked the top 10 list for career points and currently has scored 917.5. She is behind Mira Djurik in ninth with 991.5.
Conference/National Rankings: Oregon fell to 20th in the latest AVCA Coaches’ Poll Monday, Sept. 9 after previously being ranked 12th. The team’s 32-consecutive weeks in the top 25 is the 13th-longest active streak in the nation.
As of the Sept. 9 rankings, Lauren Plum ranks second in the Pac-12 for assists per set with 12.24, behind only Madi Bugg of Stanford (12.57). Plum is also tied for the lead in double-doubles this season, with three. That total also ranks fifth in the nation. Molly Kreklow of Missouri leads the country with 12.85 per set.
Freshman Amanda Benson broke onto the scene with two 20+ digs matches last week (Portland State, Michigan State) and is currently third in digs per set in the Pac-12 with 4.94. Kyle Gilbert (Stanford) and Stephanie Preach (Arizona State) rank first and second in category, respectively.
What’s Next: The Ducks will have over a week off before they start Pac-12 play, Sept. 25 at Oregon State. Washington will come to town for the conference home-opener, Sept. 27.