2021.02.26.EMG.IME.WvB.UO.vs.ColoradoBuff2021.02.26.EMG.IME.WvB.UO.vs.ColoradoBuffaloes-9.jpg

Ducks players Gloria Mutiri (16) and Taylor Williams (8) both jump to block the ball. Oregon Ducks women’s volleyball takes on the Colorado Buffaloes at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Ore., on Feb 26, 2021. (Ian Enger/Emerald)

Oregon volleyball closed out the Oregon Invitational on Saturday, completing its third sweep of the weekend in a victory over the San Jose State Spartans. Each of the Ducks’ opponents failed to steal a single set through three games as the Ducks started their season off strong.

Brooke Nuneviller led the way with 11 kills, but the defense was key to the Ducks’ victory. Karson Bacon had a team-high four blocks, with Taylor Borup and Gloria Mutiri adding three.

Abby Hansen didn’t start, but she subbed in soon enough, imposing her will on the defensive side with an early block on Amethyst Harper’s kill attempt. Hansen followed that up with offensive brilliance, providing an early kill to give the Ducks an 11-5 lead.

The Spartans surged their way back into the first set. Harper began to pose a threat to the Ducks, coming out of the first timeout with three straight kills to claim the Spartans’ first lead at 15-14.

However, the Ducks’ response proved stronger than the Spartans’ surge. Nuneviller came through with a kill and an ace before a Spartans attack error gave the Ducks the first set 25-19.

The Spartans crept out to an 8-7 lead to start the second set, before falling victim to a four-point Ducks run. The Spartans were down, but not out. They fought back into the set, tying the score at 15 after an attack error from Hansen.

In the back end of the second set, the Ducks reclaimed momentum with a trio of kills from Borup. She was solid throughout the Invitational, but her performance in the second set was crucial to the Ducks’ victory.

A kill from Nuneviller led to a set point for the Ducks. Hansen followed up with a kill of her own, giving the Ducks the second set by a score of 25-21.

Nuneviller was impressive — with nine kills through the first two frames.

The Ducks pulled away early in the third set behind an impressive play from Gloria Mutiri. Mutiri added three kills to give the Ducks a 12-6 lead.

The height of Oregon’s middle blockers was advantageous throughout the match, as they turned up on the defensive side. A block and a kill from Bacon, followed by a soft tip from Borup that traveled just over the outreached hands of the Spartans defense, gave the Ducks a 17-7 lead.

That huge run propelled the Ducks through the rest of the set as they closed the door on the Spartans. The final point was a long rally finished off by another kill from Borup.

Oregon took the final set 25-18, winning the match 3-0. Oregon volleyball improves to 3-0 and will take on Rice University on Thursday, Sept. 2.

Aaron Heisen is a writer from Venice Beach, California. He enjoys covering Oregon sports including basketball, football, baseball and softball. When he’s not writing, he’s playing basketball, reading, watching movies, or spending time with his family.