Oregon volleyball is finding plenty of success away from home this season with the Ducks undefeated on the road.
The team has experienced ups and downs this year. Part of that has to do with the youth of the team, but the Ducks are keeping pace with their rivals.
“This is an awesome group of people,” head coach Jim Moore said in anticipation of the trip to Washington. “They want to learn. They want to be successful. They want to do things. We’re a little inexperienced at times but they want to get it done.”
Most recently, Oregon won matches at No. 8 Washington and No. 23 Washington State in straight sets and five sets respectively. When the Ducks played both Washington schools at Matthew Knight Arena, Oregon split the series with a straight set loss to then-ranked No. 8 Washington and a sweep over then-ranked No. 10 Washington State.
Oregon is not the only school with a strong Pac-12 road record.
Pac-12 title rivals UCLA and Stanford are 5-2 and 6-2 when playing away from home in conference play this season. This year, Pac-12 teams have won a majority of their away matches, even against highly ranked opponents.
“Looking at the Pac-12 this year, we’re all pretty close,” senior libero Amanda Benson said prior to the Washington road trip. “If you look at everybody else too, they’re doing really well on the road.”
With six Pac-12 road wins out of six and a win at Seattle University in nonconference play, the Ducks have only swept once away, which was in the straight set win at Washington. On the other hand, Oregon’s four conference losses have all come in Eugene.
“Road teams have been upsetting teams 72 percent of the time in the conference so far this year,” head coach Jim Moore said last week. “I don’t know what it means to be at home; we lose at home when we shouldn’t. It’s really just take it one point at a time.”
Struggling at home and dominating on the road is rare. With volleyball, the atmosphere in the arena plays a significant role, and sometimes has a negative impact when teams are in front of a home crowd with a pressure to perform.
“[It’s] not such a big thing when you’re on the road,” Benson said. “You don’t have to play in front of your home fans and you don’t have as much distraction and you can go into somebody else’s gym and take care of business.”
Oregon is climbing the rankings in the Pac-12, and is now part of a four-way tie for first place with Washington, Stanford and UCLA. Oregon lost to UCLA at home earlier this season, but will have a chance at revenge when the Ducks travel to Los Angeles to play the Bruins and the Trojans on Nov. 18 and 19.
Oregon has yet to play Stanford.
“We’re talented and we’re good,” Moore said. “Now we just [have] to make it happen. We just have to execute each individual play [on the road].”