SportsVolleyball

Amanda Benson is chasing a national championship — and a career record



The number sits in the Notes app on her phone, providing a daily reminder of how far she’s come and the work still to do.

After every match, Oregon senior libero Amanda Benson updates the number. She’s striving for the time when she can put 2,199 atop the note.

That number represents the total career digs Benson hopes to reach at the end of this season. It would break Katie Swoboda’s school record and place Benson where she’s always wanted to be since she stepped onto campus three years ago: at the top.

“It’s a very important record to me because it’s something I’ve been striving for ever since I committed to Oregon,” Benson said. “I knew that I was going to be starting from day one. So I knew that record was possible, I just had to work to get there. Now I’m close.”

As of now, Benson sits at 2,112 — 86 digs away from breaking the record. Factoring in that she’s averaging 4.96 digs per set this year (second in Oregon history), Benson is 17.3 sets away from reaching her goal, or roughly four more matches.

Breaking the record may be tougher than expected as Oregon enters the NCAA Tournament, which is single-elimination and features 64 teams across the country. To have a realistic shot at the record, Benson and the Ducks will have to advance to the NCAA’s Elite Eight, something the program hasn’t done since reaching the national championship in 2012.

“Winning a national championship is the most important thing for me right now,” Benson said. “It’s my main focus while the record sits in the back of my mind. I’m not going to lie, though, I want to break that record. But after, it’ll be time to reflect on how I got this far.”

Growing up, Benson was a self-titled “gym rat.” She is the middle child, sandwiched between two brothers who grew up playing all kinds of sports. Her brothers instilled in her a competitive drive from playing basketball, softball and football.

At 11, Benson played volleyball for the first time. She was terrible at the sport. But the following year, Benson’s talent developed. With it, accolades followed. Before playing at Oregon, Benson was a gold-medal winner on the national team, an All-American in high school and an Arizona state player of the year.

With her individual legacy in tact for the Ducks, Benson has added to the legacy of great Oregon liberos from the past 12 years. Swoboda started all four years as a Duck beginning in 2005, before giving way to Haley Jacob, another four-year starter, in 2009.

Then it was Benson’s turn.

“For Amanda to come in and do what she’s done is incredible — she’s by far the rock for our team and our program,” Oregon head coach Jim Moore said. “More importantly though, her legacy will live on through Lindsey Vander Weide for years to come.

“This will be Lindsey’s team the next couple years and I’ve already noticed the change in Lindsey as she’s emulating what Amanda has done and taught her — that’s a legacy.”

Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka


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Ryan Kostecka

Ryan Kostecka