EUGENE, Ore. — Five days after a deflating loss, the No. 8 Oregon volleyball team bounced back in emphatic fashion Friday, sweeping California before 3,108 fans in Matthew Knight Arena.
The Ducks (17-3, 7-2 Pac-12) were coming off a three-set loss Sunday to Arizona State. They hit .406 on Friday and held the Golden Bears to .178 hitting in a 25-18, 25-22, 25-21 victory, Oregon’s 11th sweep in 20 matches this season.
Kara McGhee led the Ducks with a season-high 14 kills, Mimi Colyer added 13 and Gabby Gonzales finished with 10. Hannah Pukis set the tone on the opening point by diving onto the scorer’s table to keep alive a point the Ducks eventually won, on her way to 40 assists and 10 digs in the match.
“Last Sunday was tough for us,” UO coach Matt Ulmer said. “We had a challenging week of practice, did a lot of soul-searching. … This is a tough conference to find your confidence again, but I liked our fight.”
How It Happened: The Ducks set the tone for the night on the opening point, when Pukis’ effort to keep the play alive set up McGhee for her first kill of the night.
“That first play, the last couple games we give that point away, hang our heads, play a sloppy first set,” Ulmer said. “I really thought that was important, her mentality to go find that ball.”
The Golden Bears still hung tough early, and rattled off three straight points for a 9-6 lead in the first set. Oregon answered with three in a row to tie it, then Cal scored again to lead 10-9 — the latest in any of the three sets that the Ducks trailed. A McGhee kill tied it back up, an ace from Georgia Murphy put Oregon up for good, and McGhee finished the set with seven kills as the Ducks took the early lead.
Set two saw the Ducks race out to a 12-5 lead, and after Cal closed within 12-8, McGhee had yet another kill to stem the tide. She later had kills to give Oregon leads of 21-19 and 22-20, and though Cal did end up tying it at 22-22, the Ducks scored the final three points to win the set. The clinching point was a block by Colyer and Karson Bacon, as Oregon’s physicality proved decisive all night.
“It’s huge because that’s how we’re going to win games,” McGhee said. “That’s a real strong point for us.”
Oregon trailed 6-5 in set three before scoring four straight points, with kills from McGhee, Colyer and Morgan Lewis. After Cal tied it 17-17, who else but McGhee got the Ducks back into the lead, sparking a 5-1 run that made it 22-18. Kills by Colyer and Gonzales finished off the match, and gave the Ducks exactly the result they wanted after Sunday’s disappointing loss.
“We had a pretty tough practice week,” Pukis said. “It was really exciting to see how well we responded.”
Notable: McGhee’s 14 kills were two off her career high set last season while with Baylor. … Prior to the start of the match, McGhee was presented with a ceremonial ball to commemorate her 600th career block earlier this month. … A dozen alumni of the UO program were on hand for homecoming weekend and introduced to the fans between the second and third sets.
Up Next: The Ducks host Stanford on Sunday (5:30 p.m., Sunday).