Head coach Jim Moore has said for weeks that the Ducks volleyball team is out of rhythm.
After splitting a weekend series at Arizona State and Arizona, Oregon does not appear to have fully regained its stride yet.
A day removed from a nail-biting five-set victory against Oregon State, No. 22 Arizona came out hungry for a weekend sweep on Saturday night against the Ducks. They got their wish, taking the match in four sets and leaving Oregon frustrated with its effort.
“It feels like there was something missing this weekend,” sophomore outside hitter Dana Stephenson said. “We needed more energy. We just seemed kind of dead.”
The Ducks struggled primarily with serving and passing against Arizona. The Wildcats totaled 11 service aces, while the Ducks had only four aces and a season-high 11 service errors.
“We served very poorly,” Moore said. “We basically did the opposite of what we talked about, which was serving tough. We just tried to serve it in, and we missed it right from the beginning. Once you miss serves that you’re just trying to get in, then you’re really in trouble.”
Despite strong starts from junior outside hitter Heather Meyers (5 kills) and outside hitter Sonja Newcombe (4 kills), the Ducks fell in the first set 25-20.
The intensity picked up considerably in the second set, as the teams traded points back and forth until the Wildcats grabbed what seemed to be a commanding 24-21 lead. Needing only one point to seal the set, Arizona faltered.
Freshman libero Haley Jacobs came up with a service ace, and senior middle blocker Neticia Enesi recorded two clutch kills, tying the set at 24. Both teams traded points until the Ducks won 29-27 on a block from Meyers and Stephenson.
The Wildcats quickly bounced back in the third set and jumped out to an early 10-3 lead. As the Ducks continued to struggle, the Wildcats stretched the lead to 19-10. Though the Ducks would cut the lead to five, they never got any closer and lost the set 25-18.
Newcombe made sure that Oregon did not go quietly in the deciding fourth set. The senior totaled 11 kills, including one to tie the set at 24.
Still, the Ducks could not close the set out, losing 31-29 to give the Wildcats a 3-1
“They’re a good team and very athletic,” Moore said. “They had a good game plan serving to us, and we didn’t pass well from the beginning and panicked.”
“If the passes aren’t perfect, then it’s hard for us to run what we want to run,” Stephenson said. “That threw us out of wack a little bit.”
Newcombe finished with 26 kills (a career-high), while Enesi had 11 kills and hit an impressive .429. Senior setter Nevena Djordjevic added 57 assists to tie a season high.
The Ducks were more in sync on Friday as they swept Arizona State 3-0 in Tempe.
Meyers lead the team with 14 kills, and Newcombe broke Kelly Russell’s school record of 1,523 career points. Enesi also found her way into the record book on Friday, passing Lauri Krejcha on the all-time school block assist list. Freshman outside hitter Katherine Fischer added 11 kills as well, and Djordjevic had 37 assists.
The Ducks also bottled up Sun Devil star Sarah Reaves, limiting the junior to a .176 hitting percentage and 11 kills.
“We dug her early and we blocked a couple balls,” Moore said. “When you get somebody to think about what they’re doing and trying to figure out how to overcome that you’re always at a good vantage.”
Freshman Kellie Kawasaki had 16 digs, and the team’s defense seemed to be much
The win marked Oregon’s third straight sweep of Arizona State, and the Sun Devils have not won a match since sweeping UCLA on Sept. 25.