Ducks Fall Short in Five


HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. – The Oregon volleyball team came up just short in the first of two matches on Friday at the Hofstra Invitational, falling to Duke in five sets, 9-25, 28-26, 28-26, 19-25, 15-13, at the David S. Mack Physical Education Center.

The No. 14 Ducks (3-5) will be back in action at 4 p.m. PT against Hofstra to wrap up their two-week East Coast trip and their 2019 nonconference schedule.

How it Happened: Coming off a four-set loss to St. John’s the night before, the Ducks came out in attack mode and rolled to a dominant opening set win. Oregon scored the first six points of the match and raced out to a 13-2 lead as Duke burned both of its timeouts. The Blue Devils (5-5) scored consecutive points just twice in the set, with the Ducks building an 18-9 lead before closing the set on a 7-0 run that included three service aces by Georgia Murphy. Oregon hit a whopping .538 in the first set while holding the Duke attack to a negative hitting percentage.

The second set was a much different story. Oregon used a 5-1 run to take a 12-10 lead, but Duke answered with four straight to move ahead. The Blue Devils played to a 22-20 advantage before two Ronika Stone kills fueled a 4-0 UO run that gave the Ducks set-point, 24-22. Duke didn’t back down, though, putting down three straight kills to earn its own set-point, 25-24, and force an Oregon timeout. Brooke Nuneviller twice kept the Ducks alive with kills to make it 26-26, but Duke found the floor on back-to-back points to take the set and tie the match at intermission.

The Blue Devils started fast out of intermission, using runs of 6-0 and 5-0 to take a 15-9 lead. Oregon began to string some points together and got within 21-20 before Duke traded points to earn set-point, 24-22. A kill by Karson Bacon and an ace by Georgia Murphy tied it at 24-24 and the Ducks later earned set-point after a Stone kill and a Willow Johnson ace, but Duke came roaring back out of a timeout with three straight to secure another 28-26 win and take a 2-1 match lead.
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Trailing 14-9 midway through the fourth, the Ducks ripped off five straight points to take the lead and then answered a 3-0 Duke run with five more consecutive points to take a 21-18 lead. After a Blue Devils point cut the lead to two, Oregon reeled off four points in a row to run away with the set and send the match to a fifth game. Freshman Morgan Lewis put down kills on the final two points to keep the Ducks alive.

The Ducks struggled to get things going to start the fifth, using a timeout after Duke raced out to a 9-3 lead. A pair of kills by Nuneviller ignited a 6-1 run that got Oregon within one before a kill by Duke, and kills for Lewis and freshman Jade Sadeiko ignited a 3-0 run that gave the Ducks a 12-11 lead. Duke retook the lead out of a timeout with back-to-back points before a service error made it 13-13, but the Ducks followed with a service error of their own and the Blue Devils blocked a Stone attack to win the set and the match.

Who Stood Out: Stone led all players with 17 kills on .438 hitting, and Lewis was right behind with a season-high 16 kills and a team-high five blocks. Nuneviller notched her fifth double-double with 15 kills (.316) and 13 digs, Bacon added seven kills and Kylie Robinson recorded a season-high 47 assists. Murphy led the Ducks with 14 digs and was terrific at the service line with five aces, the most by a Duck this season.

Notable: Johnson returned to action for the first time since getting injured on Sept. 11, recording two digs, a kill and an ace while playing only in the back row … Stone raised her career points scored total to 1,289.5, moving her past Martenne Bettendorf (2012-15) for No. 10 on the Oregon all-time list … Stone is also on the cusp of reaching 1,000 career kills after upping her total to 993 with 17 against the Blue Devils … Duke and Oregon are now even in the all-time series, 1-1, after meeting for the first time since 1995.