Hitter switch sparks 3-0 win over ASU
After a disheartening 3-1 loss to Arizona on Friday, head coach Jim Moore knew something had to change.
The team met for two and a half hours the next morning to discuss how they could improve, and Moore finally decided to put junior outside hitter Heather Meyers back in her old position on the right side of the court, switching freshman outside hitter Katherine Fischer to the left side.
It proved to be a savvy move, as the No. 14 Ducks won 3-0 Saturday against Arizona State.
“I brought (the switch) up, and everybody said, ‘Yes, this is what we have to do,'” Moore said. “It’s a much smoother feeling, and as little rhythm as we had in the beginning, I think it’s going to create a lot more rhythm as time goes on.”
Meyers spent a good deal of time on the right side of the court during the first two years of her career, so the switch did little to faze her.
“It was a big transition, but at the same time I felt comfortable with it because I’d been doing it my freshman and sophomore year,” Meyers said. “It’s kind of my comfort zone, because I have been struggling in the other position.”
Coming off of Friday’s loss, the Ducks knew they would have to make a statement early against Arizona State. Yet the Sun Devils quickly showed that they would not make things easy for Oregon, and jumped out to a 10-8 lead in the first set. The Ducks battled back to take a 17-16 lead, and with senior setter Nevena Djordjevic serving, they simply took over. Djordjevic’s serving kept the Sun Devils on the defensive, and Oregon rattled off eight straight points to win the first set 25-16.
“We had runs of points because of serving, and that’s what it’s all about,” Moore said.
The Ducks never trailed in the second set, but the score remained close until the end. Late in the set, Oregon held a narrow 19-16 lead after a service error by freshman outside hitter Ashley Kastl. From there, Newcombe took the ball to serve and the Ducks did not lose another point, taking the second set 25-16.
Arizona State refused to quit, and brought the score to within 22-20 in the third set. Still, the Ducks were bound and determined to earn a win, and refused to let the set get away from them. Newcombe, Meyers, and Fischer rattled off three consecutive kills to take the set 25-20 and the match 3-0.
“We played well considering the way we were (Friday night),” Moore said. “It shakes you so much that you have to really regroup, and they did, they really regrouped.”
Meyers took very well to her new position, hitting .393 with 13 kills. Newcombe led the team with a .394 hitting percentage and 14 kills, while freshman libero Kellie Kawasaki had a career-high 20 digs. As a team, the Ducks had 57 digs and out-blocked Arizona State 14-6.
“We showed up to play,” Newcombe said. “I thought that we did a better job pursuing balls and we blocked a lot better.”
As the Ducks would readily admit, they did not show up to play on Friday against Arizona. The Wildcats won rather easily by a 3-1 margin, and Moore was noticeably displeased with the team’s effort.
“The lack of focus from the beginning was baffling,” Moore said. “People didn’t even know where they were going in defense, something we’ve been doing so well, and all of a sudden it just shut down. That was very disappointing.”
Serving and defense proved to be very problematic, as the Ducks totaled eight service errors and allowed the Wildcats to hit .317 as a team.
“We just didn’t dig balls, our blocking was very poor,” Meyers said. “It’s just all defense, and that’s where we didn’t execute tonight. Every ball they hit was practically a kill.”
Junior outside hitter Tiffany Owens hit .310 with 17 kills for the Wildcats, while sophomore middle blocker Courtney Karst hit an astounding .483 with 16 kills.
“They played well, don’t get me wrong,” Moore said. “They gave us no points. They played very well, but not knowing what defense you’re in, not knowing what rotation you’re in, I don’t even know where that came from.”
Meyers had a team-high 16 kills, while Fischer added 17 digs. The Ducks hit just .213 as a team, and were out-blocked 11-5.
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