Oregon head coach Matt Ulmer saw Friday night as an opportunity to make a national statement, and his team responded to the challenge in a big way against the Wichita State Shockers.
The No. 14 Oregon Ducks defeated the No. 23 Wichita State Shockers in three straight sets at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday night.
“The volleyball nation is going to see this match, and I wanted [the Ducks] to show everybody how good we are,” Ulmer said.
In set one, each team remained within two of each other until the Ducks scored three straight to take an 18-14 lead and force a Shockers timeout. Out of the timeout the Shockers scored, but Oregon responded again with three straight, and Wichita State, down six, used a second time out of the set. This time after surrendering a Shockers point out of the timeout, the Ducks scored four straight to win the set 25-16.
“We really wanted to key in right from the start,” Ronika Stone said. “We had some rough starts earlier in previous matches, so we really wanted to start fast and finish stronger.”
The Ducks rolled in set two. The Ducks raced out to an 8-1 lead before the Shockers called a timeout to try to stop the run. Oregon continued to put the pressure on Wichita State, pushing the lead to double-digits at 15-5, forcing another timeout. The Ducks scored eight in a row before the Shockers scored their sixth point of the set, a service error committed by Oregon’s Lindsey Vander Weide.
Later in the set, the Shockers attempted a comeback, outscoring the Ducks 12-4 to end the set, but those four points were enough for the Ducks to close out the set win, 25-19.
“I thought we had a chance to really make a statement, and then we let up in the second and I’m not okay with that,” Ulmer said. “I’m really proud of us because we had a chance again in the third and we did it that time.”
In set three, the two teams played close until the Ducks scored four straight to take 14-7 lead. After the Shockers scored on an Oregon service error by Alex Hojnar, the Ducks scored five straight to take a commanding 19-8 lead in the set and forced a Shockers timeout. There was no comeback attempt this time as Ducks closed out the third set with a 25-12 win.
The Ducks conclude the Nike Classic on Saturday with a 7 p.m. match against Duquesne at Matthew Knight Arena.
Follow Zak Laster on Twitter: @zlast3445