Meyers’ position switch helps Ducks flip the switch

Shawn Hatjes

Pacific-10 Conference race heating up

The No. 14 Ducks remain fifth in the Pac-10 standings after splitting a weekend series against Arizona and Arizona State. A showdown with No. 12 California and No. 7 Stanford next weekend becomes all the more important at this point, as Oregon looks to make a move up the Pac-10 standings. The Golden Bears dealt then-No. 4 Washington its third Pac-10 loss this past weekend in five sets. Then-No. 5 Stanford, meanwhile, was swept by the Huskies last Friday but bounced back with a win over then-No. 24 Washington State. Oregon notched wins against both California and Stanford last time they played, but the Golden Bears have been playing some of their best volleyball of the season.

Enesi looking to break out of mini-slump

As one of the most dependable middle blockers in the Pac-10, it’s always surprising when Neticia Enesi has one off night, let alone three. Yet the senior has struggled in her last three matches, hitting -.036, .074 and .267 respectively.

“Now in the conference, everyone knows who I am,” Enesi said. “As a middle (blocker), it’s tough to hit around when they know who you are. So I’m just trying to work on different shots and a different hitting mentality for getting around those blockers.”

Head coach Jim Moore was encouraged by Enesi’s last outing against Arizona State and feels that her play is almost back to normal.

“(Enesi) had some things she really had to correct,” Moore said after the 3-0 win. “In the beginning, she had to force it to happen. Toward the end it started to come together, and it’ll slowly get its way back to where it needs to be.”

“Slowly but surely it’s getting there,” Enesi said. “I’m just working really hard to find a way to be able to put the ball on the floor.”

Enesi’s blocking also improved against Arizona State, and Moore said this was key to her regaining form.

“I thought that she did a great job of hanging in there,” Moore said. “Her blocking got better, and her blocking actually affected her hitting, so her hitting improved dramatically by the end of the match.”

Enesi is still second in the Pac-10 with a .384 hitting percentage, and her 1.13 blocks per set led the team.

Position switch benefits Meyers, Fischer

After Friday’s 3-1 loss to Arizona, Moore and assistant coach Stacy Metro stayed awake until 2:30 a.m. trying to figure out how to jump-start the team. Finally, they came up with a solution: have junior outside hitter Heather Meyers and freshman outside hitter Katherine Fischer switch positions. Meyers would move to the right side of the court, where she had played during her freshman and sophomore years and felt very comfortable. Fischer, meanwhile, would move to the left side, which also played to her strengths.

It seemed like a perfect solution, and the team agreed when Moore ran it by the team during a video session the next day. So, the move was made and the benefits could be seen right away in a 3-0 win over Arizona State. Meyers had 13 kills and .393 hitting percentage, while Fischer added seven kills of her own, including the match-clincher.

“Heather is hitting more on the right side, which is a lot easier for a left-handed player,” senior outside hitter Sonja Newcombe said. “Katherine is able to pass and hit on the left side, which is easier for her as well.”

The reason Meyers moved to the left side in the first place at the beginning of the season was to change the pace of the offense.

“We wanted to run a quicker offense,” Newcombe said. “We’ve kind of gotten away from that. We struggled a little bit passing, more than we would have liked to. So I think with our system it’s a little bit easier on Heather on the right side.”

Meyers is happy with the move and seems to have much more confidence in her
new position.

“I’m more comfortable as a left-handed hitter,” Meyers said. “I just use the blocks more, and it’s a little bit easier for me. The other position I was serve-receive-passing the whole time, and (Saturday) I didn’t serve-receive at all.”

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