After a trying Pacific-10 conference opening weekend against Washington and Washington State, it would only be natural for the Oregon women’s volleyball team to have a bit of an emotional let-down today against a struggling Oregon State team. Head coach Jim Moore will have none of that.
“You can throw out all the records,” said Moore. “They’re going to play very well. (The Beavers) at their place, their backs are against the wall, and they know they have to get a win. We’re going to have to make sure we’re at the top of our game.”
“Every match counts,” said senior outside hitter Neticia Enesi. “I think we all want to go in being confident, working hard, and just coming out with a win.”
Playing its absolute best has been difficult for this Duck team recently, as the injury bug has begun to spread. Senior outside hitter Sonja Newcombe is still dealing with a partially dislocated patella, while junior outside hitter Heather Myers has battled ankle troubles. Nothing shakes the rhythm of a team more profoundly than nagging injuries, and Moore knows this.
“We have to get healthy, and we have to get ourselves back in rhythm,” said Moore. “(The team) did a great job of coming back against Washington State, but we’re not at the level we were before everyone decided to start getting hurt.”
Rest is the best cure for most injuries, and Moore has been lucky to be able to sit some key starters during practices this week. In another stroke of luck, the team has only the Oregon State game on its schedule this weekend, and will not have to play back-to-back matches.
The health of most players has also improved for the most part this week, and Moore expects the entire team to be suited up and ready to go in Corvallis on Friday night.
“I think everybody will be able to get on the floor,” said Moore. “Whether they’re full-strength or not, that will be another story. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
It will likely take a fully equipped team to take down the Beavers, who are hungry for a win after falling in straight sets to both Washington and Washington State last weekend.
The Ducks will be particularly wary of outside hitter Rachel Rourke. The senior leads the team with 208 kills and was honored as the Pac-10 Player of the Week, Sept. 15 to 21, after leading the Beavers to a stunning 3-0 win over then-No. 6 Michigan. Camilla Ah-Hoy leads the team with 497 assists on the season.
“We’re just going to play it as anyone else does, knowing who the people on the other side are,” Enesi said.
The Ducks certainly know a lot about their in-state rivals, and they will look to take advantage of this knowledge in the first of two match-ups this season with the Beavers.
“I’m hoping we can gain some rhythm, playing against them,” said Newcombe. “We’ve played them a lot, so we know a lot about them.”