|Oregon at Utah||Friday, Nov. 22 - 6 p.m. MT|
|Live Stats||Click Here|
|Oregon at Colorado||Sunday, Nov. 24 - 11 a.m. MT|
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EUGENE, Ore. - Coming off a decisive upset of the 20th-ranked team in the nation, the Oregon volleyball team (15-11, 8-8 Pac-12) will look to secure and improve tournament positioning this week when it heads to a pair of schools looking to escape their end-of-season slumps. The Ducks will take on Utah (18-10, 7-9), Friday at 6 p.m. MT, and Colorado (15-11, 7-9), Sunday at 11 a.m. MT. Sunday’s match against the Buffaloes will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks.
The previous meeting with the Mountain schools in Eugene went well for Oregon, sweeping both matches in straight sets, doing so in different fashions. Against Utah, Liz Brenner carried the load with 20 of the team’s 50 kills while hitting .594.
Against Colorado, Brenner still led the team in kills but it was the strong play of middle blockers Ariana Williams and Serena Warner which guided the Ducks to a win. The duo combined for 10 kills on 22 attempts as well as seven blocks between them.
The Ducks have shown they can win in a number of ways this season, but one statistical trend has been a constant in Oregon’s success. The team is 12-0 when winning the first set of matches compared to a 3-11 when going down to start the match.
“Getting that first win is definitely pretty nice. It gives you that confidence to go on and win the next couple,” Brenner said after last week’s win against Cal, a match where the team never really looked back after leading early in the first set.
About the Utes: Utah is 18-10 this year with a 7-9 Pac-12 record but has only won one of its past six matches, the Utes’ last outing against Arizona State. The hallmark of Utah remains its strong defensive play at the net, ranking second in the conference and ninth in the nation at 2.88 blocks/set. The offense is spread evenly among four hitters who average more than two kills/set, led by Shelby Dalton (2.70) who also contributes 1.17 blocks/set. Oregon won the first meeting between the two teams in Eugene, 25-15, 25-19, 25-22. Liz Brenner finished with 20 kills in the three sets and hit a season-best .594. Oregon had one of its best offensive performances of the season, hitting .379 as a team and .400-or-better in the first two sets.
About the Buffaloes: Colorado also has a 7-9 record in conference this season and a 15-11 mark overall. The Buffaloes head into the weekend on a five-match losing streak, winning only one set during those matches. The team has relied on junior outside hitter Taylor Simpson to provide offense, averaging 3.52 kills/set. In the first meeting with Colorado, Oregon was victorious 25-21, 25-16, 25-18 and was anchored by middle blockers Ariana Williams and Serena Warner. The pair combined for 10 kills on 22 attempts, hitting over .400. The Ducks defense provided a boost with a 8.5-7 margin in blocks and out-digging the Buffaloes 59-38.
Conference/National Rankings: Oregon is receiving votes in the latest AVCA Coaches’ Poll Monday, Nov. 18, and would be ranked 28th if the poll was extended. Despite upsetting No. 20 California and taking a set against Stanford, Oregon was jumped by Marquette which is currently 27th.
As of the Nov. 10, rankings Liz Brenner ranks second in the Pac-12 with a kills per set average of 4.47, a tally that ranks 16th in the nation.
Ariana Williams’ .343 hitting mark is ninth in the conference and 88th in the country.
As a team, Oregon leads the conference in assists/set (13.87) and is second in both kills/set (14.60) and digs/set (16.97). The assists/set mark ranks fifth and nation while the team is 11th in kills and 21st in digs.
Brenner Leading the Pac: Liz Brenner has a Pac-12-best 4.85 kills/set in conference matches this season and ranks second with 5.15 points/set.
Ducks Don’t Look Back: Oregon is 12-0 when they win the first set of matches this season. In 11 of those matches, the Ducks won in straight sets.
Double-Doubles: Liz Brenner’s 12 double-doubles this season is the most since Katherine Fischer recorded 14 during the 2010 season. The 12 this season is tied for fourth-most in the conference. Brenner has made the double-double a habit as of late, accomplishing the feat in seven of the last eight matches.
Digging Gold: Freshman Amanda Benson made her debut in Oregon’s single-season record book with 413 digs this season, passing Teri Kramer (1985) 10th-most in school history. Benson is averaging 4.69 digs/set which would be good enough for fifth-best at the end of the season. She joins Katie Swoboda as the only two freshmen to appear on the list and will pass Swoboda with 35 more digs (448).