Earlier this week, Oregon senior Tia Thomas suffered a left foot injury during practice. The injury was so severe that Thomas will sit out this season.
Despite the last-minute injury, which caused the team to change its tumbling routines just days before its meet, Oregon prevailed and won its ninth straight opening meet since becoming a varsity sport at Oregon in 2010.
“We didn’t just have like one person step up into her role, we had a lot of people just rise to the occasion,” senior Hannah Blair said.
The No. 2 Oregon Ducks (1-0) defeated No. 7 Hawaii Pacific, 275.180 to 267.190, Friday night at Matthew Knight Arena. Oregon improved to a 7-1 overall record against HPU (0-1), with its only loss coming from a March 2015 matchup in Honolulu.
“For them to rise above and get everything done tonight was very, very inspiring,” Oregon head coach Keenyn Won said. “I think we really had that feeling of family, because there were so many people that were able and willing to step up, to do more, to give that 110 percent in the spots we needed. We had to make a lot of changes, and everyone was kind of affected to different ways, and everybody really just changed their mindset with a refuse-to-fail attitude and we got it done.”
The Ducks opened the meet by winning the compulsory event, 38.25 to 36.55. Oregon and HPU tied in heat two, both scoring 9.85 — which became the highest score posted in any event during the meet.
Oregon dominated in the second event, posting better scores than HPU in each heat. After the first two events, the Ducks were ahead 67.20 to HPU’s team score of 64.35.
The Sharks outscored the Ducks in the first and third heats of the Pyramid event. Oregon took the second heat, 9.75 to 9.60, but it wasn’t enough to claim the event win. HPU’s win in the pyramid event, 29.05 to 28.70, was its only event win of the meet.
Oregon came out of intermission and swept each heat of the toss event, winning 28.60 to 27.35.
In the tumbling event, both teams struggled with landing on the mat. Oregon got penalized three times, while HPU only received the reduction in heat six. HPU’s heat two score of 7.75 was the lowest posted score of the meet. Despite the errors, the Ducks won five of the six heats, as the Sharks edged out the Ducks in heat four with a score of 9.775 to Oregon’s 9.75. Oregon won the event 56.35 to 52.65.
“Obviously the tumbling is a really high-energy event,” Won said. “Those girls, I think they just had a lot of height that they normally didn’t have in practice. It’s definitely something we are going to work on and fix.”
The Ducks concluded the match by beating the Sharks in a close team event, winning 94.330 to 93.790.
“It’s always bittersweet, but in the best way possible,” Hawaii Pacific head coach and Oregon alum, Haley Garelick said of competing against her former program. “Seeing them where I used to be is very special. It’s a special moment. … that’s why I love coming to Oregon because it’s a very positive meet, and I actually feel like we are both rooting for each other.”
Oregon will travel to Hamden, Connecticut next weekend to face the No. 3 Quinnipac Bobcats on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 11 a.m.
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter:@maggie_vanoni