Injured Ducks pull out gutsy win over Cougars Sunday

Jack Hunter

Every season has its peaks and valleys, and even after a win against Washington State on Sunday, head coach Jim Moore still sees his team stuck in the valley.

Injuries are becoming a glaring issue, particularly with senior outside hitter Sonja Newcombe and junior outside hitter Heather Meyers.

Newcombe suffered a subluxed patella on Friday, and Meyers is dealing with a nagging ankle injury. These health issues have not only affected individual play, but also the performance of the team itself, exemplified by the weekend’s up-and-down play.

The team began its match with Washington State on Sunday looking out of sync and unsure, dropping the first set 25-23. Moore had limited Newcombe during the first set in an attempt to protect her injured knee, but with the team looking at a 1-0 deficit, Newcombe would have no more of it.

“I was trying to protect Sonja the best that I could,” Moore said. “She wouldn’t let me do it after we lost that first set.”

As Newcombe explained simply, “We needed to win.”

Following Newcombe’s lead, the Ducks seemed to find their rhythm in the second set. Newcombe led the team with five kills, and the Ducks took the set 25-18.
Meyers came alive in the third set with six kills and also played a key role in one of the match’s signature moments.

Coming out of a timeout with the score tied at 22, Meyers registered a quick kill followed by two straight kills by Newcombe to seal the set. Newcombe had six more kills in the fourth set, while Meyers added four of her own and senior outside hitter Neticia Enesi had three.
“I was really focused on today,” said Meyers, who struggled to get going against Washington earlier in the weekend. “I wanted to prove that I’m still in it, I haven’t quit yet and I can still do it. I wanted to go all out for this game.”

In all, Newcombe played in all four sets, led the team in kills with 19, hit .405, and had 12 digs. Meyers added 16 kills and hit .406. As a team, the Ducks hit .305 and out-scored Washington State 86-69.

Moore was proud of the way his team performed.

“This was a very special performance,” he said. “I asked them to be tough and they were beyond that.”

“It was really a huge win on Sunday,” said senior setter Nevena Djordjevic. “We came out and showed up and we won that game. I think it made us more confident about ourselves.”

But if Sunday’s game was good, Friday’s game against No. 3 Washington was an entirely different story.

The Ducks began their Pacific-10 Conference opener with a solid first set, as Newcombe recorded 4 kills and freshman outside hitter Katherine Fischer dialed up two service aces in a row. The Huskies on the other hand proved their worth with some key blocks and three service aces, leading to a 25-18 victory.

In the second set, Oregon came out trying to erase the first set, but the Huskies still were able to hold them off. With the score at 25-24 Washington, controversy reared its ugly head, leading to a big set back for the Ducks. The Huskies spiked the ball out of bounds, but it was ruled that the Ducks touched the ball before it went out, and the point and set were awarded to the Huskies.

Already facing a 2-0 hole, the Ducks seemed flustered in the third set, falling behind 13-6 at one point and eventually losing the set 25-19 and the match 3-0.

“I’m disappointed in the third set that we came out and we panicked,” said Moore. “We didn’t give up, but we panicked, and then we made a whole bunch of errors, and then it was pretty much over with.”

Despite the questionable call in the second set, Moore did not blame the officiating.
“(Washington) is better than us now. They’re significantly better than us,” said Moore. “I felt serving and passing were relatively equal in the beginning but they had eight aces in the first two sets. We didn’t pass well at all so you have to attribute that to their serving and we didn’t serve as tough as we needed to to take them out of system.”

Among the bright spots of the match were Newcombe and Enesi. Enesi hit .565 with 13 kills, while Newcombe hit .300 with 17 kills.

Meyers, on the other hand, turned in a performance she would rather forget.

“I had a rough night after that [game],” said Meyers. “I tried to be tough after that. I think that was definitely one of the worst games of my whole college career.”

It was a rough night for the entire team, as Oregon dropped to 0-9 against Washington since Jim Moore arrived.

Washington extended its winning streak over the Ducks to 17 straight games dating back to 2000.

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