EUGENE, Ore. – Liz Brenner finished with 20 kills and a season-best .594 hitting percentage as she led the No. 21 Oregon volleyball team (12-6, 5-3 Pac-12) to a 3-0 sweep of Utah (15-5, 4-4), Sunday, 25-15, 25-19, 25-22.
Brenner separated herself as the top offensive player in the match, but the entire team was firing on all cylinders for a majority of the match. The Ducks held the advantage in almost every statistical category, including a 50-37 kills differential while hitting at a clip of .379. That number was made even more impressive when considering Utah entered the weekend with the 14th-best blocking team in the country.
“We were smart with our shots and kept the ball in play today,” Brenner said. “I made sure I kept balls in play instead of going for the kill, and when you do that things happen that go really well.”
Head coach Jim Moore also like what he saw in his players’ savvy execution.
“It was good for us to get the ball off the block,” he said. “Our hitters played smart. They didn’t try to terminate every single ball, and that gave us a chance.”
The Ducks finished with a 48-35 edge in digs, thanks in large part to defensive specialist Tatum Norton who had 17 of those 48, surpassing her career high of 12 from earlier this season. Norton was on point all weekend, racking up nine digs Friday against Colorado and earning the praises of Moore after the match.
Oregon was dominant in the first two sets of the match, hitting above .400 in both.
Oregon took the lead at 2-1 in the first frame and never looked back. Brenner had four of her nine kills by the time the Ducks went up 13-3, a safe margin they held at the end of the set, 25-15.
It took a little longer for Oregon to pull away in the second set, but an eventual 8-1 run put it up 15-11. Oregon went on to take the set by a six-point margin. While the offense primarily went through Brenner to open the match, al the hitters saw significant action in the second with Brenner, Finley, Bettendorf and Williams each with three kills.
It looked as if the Ducks were cruising to victory in the final set, jumping out to a 20-12 lead before Utah’s 10-3 surge brought the Utes within a point at 23-22. The Ducks found a way to close It from there, though, with back-to-back kills from Williams and Brenner.
“I want to combine tonight’s start with Friday’s finish,” Moore said. “I think we finished a little shaky, but started well. We haven’t had a good start in a long time.”
Williams finished the match as the only other Duck to get into double-figure kills, with 11.
Lauren Plum made her return after sustaining an injury against Arizona that kept her out until today’s match.
Oregon will continue their busy stretch of four matches in seven days with a road trip to Stanford, Wednesday and California, Friday.The Automated ScoreBook
UTAH vs #21 Oregon
(Oct 20, 2013 at Eugene, Ore.)
|TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 6.0|
|TOTAL TEAM BLOCKS: 4.0|
| Site: Eugene, Ore. (Matthew Knight Arena)
Date: Oct 20, 2013 Attend: 1124 Time: 1:22
Referees: Mickey Matthews, Alan Chinn