The No. 15 Oregon Ducks swept the Arizona State Sun Devils at Matthew Knight Arena on Saturday night to win their third match in a row.
The win improved Oregon’s record to 13-5 and 6-4 in the Pac-12. It was the Sun Devils’ tenth loss in a row, leaving the team still searching for their first conference victory.
“I thought we played more of a complete game,” Ducks Head Coach Matt Ulmer said. ”I liked our energy throughout and I thought they tested us really well.”
Looking to put the Sun Devils away in the third set and earn the sweep, trailing by one, Oregon scored 6 of 7 to take a 10-6 lead. The Ducks had four different three-point bursts throughout the set and won it easily — 25-14 to clinch the victory.
The Ducks benefited from the play of sophomore Jolie Rasmussen, who played in her second match since missing nearly a month due to injury. She led the team with 10 kills.
“It’s really exciting having Jolie back,” Ducks Right Side hitter Willow Johnson said. “She’s gotten so much bigger and stronger this year.”
The first set was played close throughout, until Oregon scored three points in a row to take a 21-17 lead and force a Sun Devils timeout. Out of the timeout the Sun Devils tried to get back in the match, scoring 2 of 3, but the Ducks put the Sun Devils away with a 25-20 win on a Sun Devils service error.
“Summet has been playing really well, and that’s opening up other players,” Johnson said. “I think we’ve also been using our height well which has been helping. I think we played collectively and with a lot of energy. We just need to bring that every night.”
The Ducks began the second set much stronger. They surrendered the first point before scoring nine in a row to take control early. Later, trailing 16-6, the Sun Devils tried to battle back, scoring five straight to cut the lead in half. After two straight Oregon points, Arizona State scored 5 of 6 to pull within three points and force an Oregon timeout.
After the timeout, the Sun Devils pulled within two, but the Ducks scored five-of-six, needing just one point to win the set. Arizona State rallied for three straight points, forcing another Oregon timeout. The Ducks won the set 25-21 on a kill by Sumeet Gill. She finished the match with nine kills.
The Ducks take on the No. 12 Utah Utes on Wednesday at Matthew Knight Arena. The last time the two met in September, the Ducks came away with a five-set victory on the road.
“The only loss Utah has right now is to us,” Ulmer said of Utah’s Pac-12 record. “So you know they’re going to be coming after us, looking to make up for that one.”
Follow Zak Laster on Twitter @zlast3445