No. 14 Oregon won the opening match of the Nike Classic on Thursday night against the Cal Poly Mustangs with three straight set wins of 25-22, 25-20, and 25-20 at Mathew Knight Arena.
The win marked the fourth home-win for the Ducks (5-1) this season.
“They had a really hard time scoring on us when we were on our game plan,” head coach Matt Ulmer said. “We are becoming a very good serving team. When we can put that kind of service pressure on a team to take them out of what they want to do on offense, then all of a sudden we get big on the block.”
Set one started off slow for the Ducks with a four-point run by Cal Poly (5-2). After two attack errors and a timeout, the Ducks were able to cut their six-point deficit to two. Oregon got its first lead at 13-12 and were able to keep it through 19-15, creating a deficit as big as four. Once in the 20’s, back to back points from the teams occurred until 22-23 and the Duck’s back-to-back kills from Taylor Agost and Ronika Stone gave the team a 25-22 win.
“I’m just really proud of how we responded,” Ulmer said. “Our offense was bad but in the first set, I thought we were really good. I told them towards the end I said, ‘Let this be a lesson to you in a win — because I knew we were going to win — that you can never let the gas off of a really good team. And we did that and gave them some hope. Then we were able to turn right back around.”
The second set started off with much more hype as the teams went back and forth. Cal Poly finally broke free and went on a three-point run to create a four-point deficit at 9-5. Two straight kills from Agost sent the Ducks on a six-point run to take the lead at 14-12. After a Mustang timeout, the Ducks increased their lead to 17-12. Oregon kept their lead to the end of the set. Another kill from Agost won the set for the Ducks at 25-20.
The third and final set began with an early tie, but after a five-point run for the Ducks, they came up ahead with a three-point lead at 6-3. The Ducks would never lose the lead. The team kept their lead at 17-9 before Cal Poly called their final timeout. The Mustangs charged back and played through a four-point run to bring the score to 17-13, but ultimately couldn’t get closer than that. A kill by Willow Johnson finished the match and clutched the win for the Ducks at 25-20.
The match was all about good touches and blocks for the Ducks. The team ended the match with a total of 0.289 hitting percentage and 13 total team blocks. Agost aided the Ducks to the win with an individual 0.733 hitting percentage and 11 kills.
“That’s what I want every game,” Agost said. “That’s what I’m striving for. I’ve just really been working with August [Raskie] on our connection and that really worked well tonight.”
The Nike Classic will continue over the next three days. Oregon plays No. 23 Wichita State on Friday at 8 p.m at Matthew Knight Arena.
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter @maggie_vanoni