No. 14 Ducks Rally Past Stanford in Five

EUGENE – Facing a 2-1 match deficit in Sunday’s top-20 match against Stanford, the No. 14 Oregon volleyball team rallied for a five-set victory (25-21, 23-25, 23-25, 25-23, 15-11) at Matthew Knight Arena. The win is the program’s first over Stanford since 2011.

With the triumph, the Ducks are 14-2 this season with a 5-1 mark in Pac-12 play.

“It was really hard-fought match by both sides,” head coach Matt Ulmer said. “I don’t know if it was the prettiest but there were a lot of big blockers and lots scrappy defense all over the place, and serving was pretty aggressive. I’m really proud of our group.”

The Ducks have won seven of eight on their home floor this season and improve to 3-1 in five setters in the 2021 campaign. Stanford entered the day as the 17th-ranked team in the country.

In the decisive set, Oregon won the first three points and stretched their lead to 6-1 with a tandem block by Abby Hansen and Gloria Mutiri. Stanford (9-5, 4-2) charged back with a 6-1 surge to tie the score at 7-all. The Ducks used a quick three-point surge to regain the advantage at 10-7; Becca Morse capped the run with a service ace.

The home team maintained at least a two-point advantage for the rest of the match. Karson Bacon had two of her eight kills in the fifth set. Her final kill of the afternoon put UO ahead 13-10. On the next play, Taylor Borup ended an extended rally with a kill off an overpassed ball to give Oregon match point. The Cardinal saved one match point but Borup ended the match with a kill off a Stanford player and into the stands.

Oregon held the league’s top-hitting team to a .172 hitting percentage in Sunday’s effort, more than 100 points below its season average. Stanford carried a .290 season efficiency into the match. The Ducks had 89 digs in the win including 26 from libero Georgia Murphy, tying the match lead with her counterpart at Stanford, Elena Oglivie.

Offensively, Brooke Nuneviller led all players with 22 kills and added 19 digs to post her eighth double-double of the season. Two of her three matches with at least 20 kills this season have come during Pac-12 play; she also had 22 kills at Arizona State (Sept. 26). With her 19 digs, Nuneviller moved into fourth place on the UO all-time list and now has 1,482 career digs, one ahead of Teri Kramer (1984-87).

Borup tallied a double-double of her own with a career-high 19 kills to go along with 17 digs. Morgan Lewis was the third UO players to reach double figures against the Cardinal with 10 kills.

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“We were all going out swinging,” Nuneviller said. “We were over-communicating which is something we’d struggled with in matches. I thought we just went out there and fought really hard. It was really nice to see. It was a really big turnaround for. That was a huge win so I’m really proud.”

Nuneviller and Borup each had three kills in the fifth set Sunday.

After winning the first set, Oregon held a slim 19-17 lead toward the end of the second but the visitors pulled even at 19-all. Including that point, the score was tied five times down the stretch. At 23-23, the Cardinal rattled off the final two points to tie the match at one set each.

The Ducks held a similar 19-17 lead in the third set but Stanford won six of the next seven points to go ahead, 23-20, and went on to take the set and the 2-1 match lead.

In the fourth set, Oregon broke the back-and-forth flow of play with a run that resulted in a 16-12 lead. The Cardinal answered with a run of their own, taking a 17-16 lead with a block; Stanford finished the match with 20.0 total team blocks. In a set that featured 10 ties, the score was tied at 20, 21, 22 and 23. Nuneviller put down another kill for set point and on the next rally, Stanford was called in the net to force a fifth set.

Over the final two sets, the Ducks registered a .338 hitting percentage to assists their rally efforts. The team hit just .132 over the first three sets of the match.

“I think my favorite part was that we earned our points at the end,” Ulmer said. “We actually went out there and we scored the points. I thought that was really important for our group.”

Oregon’s home stand continues Thursday against No. 11 Washington. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. (PT) at Matthew Knight Arena.