|No. 23 UCLA at No. 22 Oregon|
|When||Friday (Oct. 11), 8 p.m.|
|No. 1 USC at No. 22 Oregon|
|When||Sunday (Oct. 13), 3 p.m.|
EUGENE, Ore. – If there’s one thing we know about Pac-12 Volleyball, it’s that there is never a week off.
After dropping a match against Arizona, 3-1 last Friday, the No. 22 Oregon volleyball team (9-5, 2-2) righted the ship with an upset of No. 15 Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., by the same score.
Just as the Ducks had no time to dwell on the defeat against Arizona, there’s little time to bask in the glow of an upset victory when two ranked teams come to Eugene this weekend, especially when one of which is slotted No. 1 in the nation.
Oregon will face No. 23 UCLA, Friday at 8 p.m. (ESPNU), followed with a duel against top-ranked USC, Sunday at 3 p.m. (Pac-12 Network).
While both opponents are ranked, they have been trending different directions over the past several weeks. UCLA is 9-5 this season and is still looking for its first Pac-12 win after going 0-4 through the first two weeks and suffering sweeps to Stanford and California last week. USC, on the other hand, is 4-0 in conference action and rides an eight-match win streak.
The Duck defense came alive in their last win at ASU, a part of their game which has been indicative of success this season. Oregon is 7-0 in matches where they lead in blocks as well as 9-0 when they keep the opposition below a .200 hitting mark, both of which happened, Sunday. The Bruins and Trojans, though, come in in the top half of the Pac-12 with regard to kills and hitting percentage, areas where both of the Arizona schools struggled.
With eight teams sitting at either 3-1 or 2-2 so far this season, the weekend of competition could go a long way in what is expected to be a competitive and contested Pac-12.
Promotions: Bi-Mart Buy 1, Get 1 – Buy one ticket to the UCLA match on Friday and receive a free ticket to the California match, Nov. 15.
Youth Day – Kids 12-and-under will can receive a general admission ticket for $1 to the USC match. Fans who show their California Football ticket stub will also receive $1 general admission.
About the Bruins: UCLA enters the match with the same 9-5 record as Oregon, but is on a four-match skid with four losses to open Pac-12 play. The Bruins have seen four ranked opponents this season, winning one of those matches, against Creighton, 3-1. Unlike what the Ducks faced against the Arizona schools last week, UCLA has struggled on the defensive side of the ball, ranking 10th and 11th in the conference in blocks and digs, respectively. Karsta Lowe has led the team in offense with 4.04 kills per set while hitting .328 this season.
About the Trojans: USC took the top ranking from Washington this week with a 3-0 win against No. 7 Stanford and a thrilling 3-2 win over California. The Trojans’ only loss of the season came at No. 9 San Diego in a 3-1 defeat, Sept. 13. USC’s attack has been diverse with three players averaging over 3.00 kills per set. The 6-5, senior Alexis Olgard has been tough at the net for the Trojans and is leading the team with 1.24 blocks per set this season and Hannah Schraer close behind at 1.02 blocks per set.
Conference/National Rankings: Oregon dropped one spot to No. 22 in the latest AVCA Coaches’ Poll Monday, Oct. 7. The team’s 36-consecutive weeks in the top 25 is the 12th-longest active streak in the nation.
As of the Oct. 6 rankings, Lauren Plum tops the Pac-12 and is fourth in the nation in assists per set with 12.13.
Liz Brenner ranks 26th in the nation after bumping her kills per set average up to 4.18 last week, a tally that ranks fourth in the Pac-12. Brenner is 36th nationally in points per set with 4.6.
Ariana Williams’ .400 hitting mark is 32nd in the nation and ranks fifth in the conference.
As a team, Oregon is 18th in the country with 14.43 kills per set and fourth in the Pac-12
Big Three: Oregon is one of five schools in the nation to have three players averaging more than 3.00 kills per set and the only school in the nation to have one of those players over 4.00 kills per set. Liz Brenner leads the trio with 4.18 kills/set and Martenne Bettendorf (3.11) and Ariana Williams (3.05) also setting impressive marks this season.
The other schools to achieve this kind of balanced attack are Alabama, CSU Bakersfield, Duke and Tulane.
Oregon Vs. Ranked Opponents: Oregon is 1-3 against ranked opponents this season, playing some of the nation’s finest. The most recent matchups against a ranked opponent went the Ducks’ way with a 3-1 win against Arizona State last week. The three losses came to No. 2 Washington, No. 20 Michigan State and No. 7 Michigan.
Oregon was 9-4 against top-25 teams last season.
Test from the Top: Oregon is 3-18 against No. 1 teams in the school history, with a 1-7 record against those teams in Eugene. The lone No. 1 upset at home came in 2011 when the Ducks took down UCLA on Nov. 11 after defeating No. 1 Penn State in Happy Valley. Of the previous 21 matches against No. 1 opponents, four have been against USC.
Block Party in the Desert: Oregon posted 14 blocks against Arizona State, Sunday, the most by an Oregon team since Sept. 7, 2010 when the Ducks tallied 16. Of the 14 blocks against ASU, Ariana Williams was a part of 10, the most by an Oregon player since Neticia Enesi had 12 on Oct. 31, 2008.
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 (1,105.5) in seventh on the all-time career points list with 1,217.
Liz Brenner joined Williams at 1,000 points, last week at Arizona. The junior has tallied 1036 points during her career, good enough for ninth on the all-time list behind Williams.
What’s Next: The Ducks will host Colorado and Utah, Friday Oct. 18 and Sunday, Oct. 20, respectively.