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No. 6 Trojans Battle Back to Edge No. 23 Duck Volleyball, 3-2Salem-News.com Sports
(EUGENE, Ore.) - In a fittingly emotional home finale, Oregon volleyball fans honored two of their favorites for the last time - senior outside hitter Heather Meyers and McArthur Court - Saturday night in one of the season's most dramatic contests.
The plucky No. 23-ranked Ducks (18-10, 6-10) came back from an 0-2 deficit to tie the match, 2-2, before the No. 6 Trojans (24-4, 13-4) won the tiebreaker in the 25-19, 25-23, 21-25, 27-29, 15-9 contest.
"Everything that I thought we could do, we did, but we still lost the match," Oregon head coach Jim Moore. "USC is really good - they are a Final Four type team. We have to play that hard all the time (like UO did in the third and fourth sets) to have a shot. I'm glad with how we fought back, but we didn't get out as aggressive as we needed to. The crowd was incredibly loud, and gave us great energy tonight."
The team's second-largest home crowd of the season and 14th-biggest ever (1,935) had plenty to cheer about as four Ducks connected on +15 kills or more for the first time this season, while the balanced UO attack hit .295.
Sophomore outside hitters Alaina Bergsma and Katherine Fischer led in kills (19 / 18), and hit .279 and .286, respectively, while the team's lone senior, Heather Meyers, added 17 kills and a .244 hitting mark.
The latter player from Temecula, Calif., moved up a spot on the UO all-time kills list to fifth place (1,368) and passed former All-Pac-10 player Madeline Ernst (1,353, 1995-98).
Posting a career-high 15 kills, freshman middle blocker Ariana Williams topped .300 for the 15th time this campaign, also led the team in hitting (.370) for the eighth time overall in '10 and fourth time in league play.
Many of the program's greatest players from its 42-year history got their first glimpse of several other young Ducks adding new chapters to the school record books.
Freshman setter Lauren Plum added a career-high 66 assists, and led the team in aces (2), and added six kills and four digs. The Poway, Calif., native still ranks seventh all-time for UO for assists in a season (1,183) after she tied the league’s second-highest mark in a match this year.
Sophomore libero Haley Jacob added a career high in digs (26) with her fifth +20 mark of the season, while Fischer's career-high 19 digs rounded out her 14th double-double of the season. A third Duck, sophomore defensive specialist Kellie Kawasaki, posted 11 digs for her sixth double-digit effort this year.
On the Duck all-time season digs list, Jacob improved two spots to sixth (430) and passed Amy McNeel (426, 1995) and Teri Kramer (410, 1985).
Five Ducks logged single blocks - sophomore Jocelyn Levig, Bergsma, Meyers, Plum and Williams.
"Overall, we had a lot of good offensive efforts," Moore said, "I thought Katherine (Fischer) played lights out, and also played great defense and came up with one dig that was incredible. I asked for 15 kills from our middle blockers to give us a chance, and we got 15 from Ari(ana, Williams) – that was big, too."
In the team comparison, Oregon outpaced USC, one of the nation's top offenses, in kills (76-71) and also digs (69-63); USC held advantages in hitting (.360-.295), sideout percentage (68% -64%) and blocks (9.5-4.0); and the two teams tied in aces (4-4).
Three Trojans posted 19 kills or more - freshman Falyn Fonoimoana (22, .392), junior Alex Jupiter (20, .347) and junior Lauren Williams (19, .533, 6 blocks). Other USC category leaders included Kendall Bateman (61 assists) and Natalie Hagglund (2 aces, 20 digs).
In other action around the league Saturday, No. 22 Arizona beat No. 11 Washington, 3-1, in Tucson; and Arizona State topped Washington State, 3-1, in Tempe.
Looking ahead, Oregon wraps up the regular season Thanksgiving weekend at No. 11 Washington and Washington State (Fri.-Sat., Nov. 26-27).
The following day, fans can watch the NCAA Tournament selection show on Sunday, November 28 from 12-12:30 p.m. Pacific Time on ESPNEWS.
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