After a painful 1-3 loss in Utah, No. 16 Oregon volleyball swept California Friday night at Matthew Knight with set scores of 25-12, 25-22 and 25-22 in their first home win since a late-September 3-2 victory against Washington State.
“I really liked our ‘teamness’ tonight,” said Oregon head coach Matt Ulmer. “It looked like we were all very focused. I like our maturity. I like where we’re going, and I just want to see it continue.”
Junior blocker Ronika Stone and senior outside hitter Lindsey Vander Weide each had 12 kills, while freshman libero Brooke Nuneviller led in digs with 16. Junior outside hitter Taylor Borup was still out with an injury.
The Ducks returned junior right-side hitter Willow Johnson, red-shirt sophomore outside hitter Brook Van Sickle and Nuneviller, who sat out Oregon’s last two games due to a week-long suspension for violating team rules, a policy Ulmer introduced.
“They looked pretty fresh to me,” said Ulmer. “So, I guess that’s a perk of it. It was really nice to have them back in there.”
The Ducks earned the first three points, and didn’t surrender the lead in the first set, winning handily with a score of 25-12. Johnson earned five kills for Oregon in that set.
“We’re good,” Ulmer said. “I think we served really tough in the beginning; we were controlling the ball well. I thought, the first set, we passed really well.”
Van Sickle opened the second set with back-to-back kills to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead, but the Bears started to chip away at Oregon’s “teamness” and ego, taking their first lead of the game at 14-13 with an ace midway through the second set by Isabel Potter.
“We kinda got complacent, started missing some serves,” Ulmer said. “Our passing broke down a little bit and that’s where they were able to come back in a little bit.”
The Ducks and the Golden Bears traded leads three more times, until Stone retook the lead for the final time at 22-21. With a kill from Vander Weide, Oregon secured a second-set victory of 25-22. Vander Weide, Stone and Van Sickle had five kills apiece in the second set.
In the third set, the Ducks looked more like their first-set selves. Nuneviller opened the set with an ace followed by a kill by Van Sickle, who earned five in the third. The Bears, who trailed the whole set, came within one point of the Ducks at 23-22, but with back-to-back kills, Stone finished out the set to give Oregon the 3-0 sweep.
Stone and the Ducks will host No. 2 Stanford on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. in Matthew Knight Arena. Stanford beat Oregon State Friday night 3-1 in Corvallis, Ore.
“Ronika’s one of the most dynamic hitters in the country, so just to get her feeling good again and playing with confidence, that’s a big deal moving forward, and now we can carry that over Sunday against Stanford,” said Ulmer.
Follow Sierra Webster on Twitter @WebsterSierraE