No. 18 Oregon opened its 2017 volleyball season with a resounding 3-1 victory over No. 5 Nebraska on Friday in the opening match of the Vert Challenge in Gainesville, Florida. In head coach Matt Ulmer’s first game at the helm, Oregon records its first win over a top-five team since 2012.
The Ducks and the Huskers kept the game close throughout the four-game series. Oregon finished the game with 62 kills and an overall .222 hitting percentage, while Nebraska finished with 54 kills and a .174 percentage.
With Oregon down 2-10 in the first set, Ulmer called two timeouts that seemed to change the Ducks’ performance. They made a quick comeback with a Lindsey Vander Weide come back kill and tied the game up 14-14.
Nebraska’s Jazz Sweet, who led the Husker’s offense with 8 kills and a .500 hitting percentage, tied the game up at 15-15. But Oregon was able to sneak past Nebraska’s to take the first set 25-20.
Oregon’s defense played a significant part in their success over the Huskers. Junior Sumeet Gill led the team with seven blocks, while Willow Johnson, Vander Weide and Ronika Stone each had three.
After losing the first set, Nebraska maintained their intensity with a closely-contested second set. With Oregon missing outside hitter Jolie Rasmussen due to an ankle injury, they had to keep up the consistency with their hitting. That’s exactly what they did: Oregon managed to take the second set 25-21 to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
Oregon took the lead in the beginning of the third set with Nebraska not far behind. The Huskers inevitably took the tightly-contested third set 26-24 to send the game to a fourth set.
The fourth set proved to be more of the same competitive play from both sides. But Oregon began to pull away as they hit the 20-point mark. Nebraska rallied to within one point but a flurry of points from the Ducks clinched the victory, 25-23.
With a 1-0 record under their belt, the Ducks will face No. 1 Texas tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. in the second game of the Vert Challenge.