LINCOLN, Neb. – Junior Liz Brenner registered 20 kills in the Oregon volleyball team’s sweep of Miami in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Friday, 25-16, 25-23, 25-17.
Oregon (20-11), which is in its seventh tournament in eight seasons, has now won five of those first-round appearances.
Even though the Ducks outhit the Hurricanes .286-.243, it was Oregon’s serving which was on display in the tournament opener. Oregon served six aces in the match with only one service error as opposed to Miami’s two aces and eight errors.
Brenner ignited the team in the first set with eight kills and a .500 hitting percentage. She didn’t stop there, adding seven more kills in the second set and five more in the third. It was the 10th time this season that Brenner has reached 20 kills.
“I think it’s just tournament time, so you are all hyped up and ready to go” Brenner said. “I think we came out really strong in that first set and everyone was doing their job. Whenever everyone does their job, it makes it really easy to execute and get points.”
Ariana Williams left her calling card of efficient play as the team’s second-leading attacker with nine kills while hitting .571. The senior also dropped two aces on the Hurricanes.
All-American Lauren Plum added 39 assists and six digs in the match, getting a lot of people involved early, also adding two service aces.
Oregon separated itself in the first set with a 10-3 run to go up 14-7, a period of play which began the momentum which carried throughout the match. The Ducks had all facets of the game working straight out of the gates with a .371 hitting mark, three blocks and two aces, besting Miami in every category.
The Ducks had reason to be confident after that first-set win as they entered the match with a 16-0 record when winning the first set, and put an extra tally in the win column, Friday.
The second set was closer throughout and came down to a battle of will at the end of the set. Tied at 23-23, Oregon forced got a sideout off a kill from Brenner to take the lead before finishing the set with a ferocious double block from Canace Finley and Serena Warner.
Oregon left little doubt in the third set as another 10-3 run gave Oregon a 21-13 lead. From there, Bethany Bair and Kacey Nady finished the match with the last two kills of the match for Oregon.
“I thought we did a good job, especially emotionally at the end,” Jim Moore said. “We were really steady coming out in the beginning. We’ve been serving better and better, and it was better today. Hopefully we can keep that going forward.”
Amanda Benson came up big in the final set, keeping nine balls off the floor. She recorded 18 digs in her first postseason appearance.
Oregon will play the winner of No. 8 Nebraska and Fairfield, tomorrow at 5 p.m. PT.