PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Behind a career-high 19 kills from Morgan Lewis, the No. 7 Oregon volleyball team held off a would-be rally by No. 8 Pittsburgh for a five-set road win Thursday night. The Ducks held the 2-0 match lead before the home team responded and forced a fifth set in front of nearly 2,200 fans at Fitzgerald Field House.
Lewis also tied her career high with six blocks while hitting .341 against the Panthers. She had three of the team’s last five points including the final kill to give Oregon its third ranked win of the season. Mimi Colyer tied Lewis for the match lead at 19 kills and established a new career high with six aces.
With the victory, Oregon improves to 8-1 this season and snapped Pitt’s 14-match home winning streak.
Hannah Pukis had 45 assists and a team-high 20 digs for her fifth double-double of the year while libero Georgia Murphy recorded a double-double of her own—third of her career—with 13 digs and 10 assists including the final helper on Lewis’ match-winning kill.
Collectively, Oregon had a season-high 14.0 team blocks to surpass its previous best of 13 against San Diego in the season opener and Ohio State in the team’s last outing. Kara McGhee also had six blocks while Pukis and Colby Neal, in her second start of the season, each added five blocks.
How It Happened
In the decisive set, Pittsburgh (6-2) won three of the first four points of the fifth but Oregon answered and took its first lead of the frame at 6-5 with the help of a Pitt attack error. Colyer followed with her sixth ace for the 7-5 advantage. The Ducks led 8-6 at the switch after a solo block by Pukis, her second solo effort of the match.
Oregon led by as many as three points at 9-6 after a kill by Gabby Gonzales and again at 10-7 following a tandem block by Neal and Pukis. However, the Panthers went on a four-point run to take an 11-10 lead. Lewis delivered back-to-back kills to re-establish the UO lead at 12-11. The second kill was initially called out but a successful challenge by head coach Matt Ulmer led to a reversal and the point.
The back-and-forth play continued with a two-point mini run by Pitt for a 13-12 lead and within two of a win on its home court. This time, the Ducks counted with the final surge. After consecutive errors by the Panthers, Oregon had match point at 14-13. Following an unsuccessful challenge, Murphy’s serve to Pitt resulted in a free ball back to UO which Lewis put away for the win.
The Ducks hit just under .300 through the first two sets on their way to the early match advantage but were held to a .000 mark in the third frame that got Pitt on the board. Oregon led by as much as four early in the fourth set. The Ducks were ahead 15-13 but the home team won eight of the next 10 points on their way to forcing a fifth.
In the tightest set of the match, Oregon fought off two set points in the first—down 24-22—behind the serve of Colyer. Kills by McGhee and Gonzales pulled the Ducks even at 24-all and after a block by Pukis and McGhee, the team had its first lead since 5-4. On the next play, Gonzales ended an extended rally with a tip over the Pitt block to complete the comeback.
Thursday’s win was the program’s first against Pittsburgh in three meetings and its first road win over a top-10 opponent since beating second-ranked—and No. 2 national seed—Minnesota in the 2018 NCAA Sweet 16.
The final weekend of non-conference play continues Friday afternoon when the Ducks take on James Madison. First serve is scheduled for 2 p.m. (PT). Oregon and JMU have met twice before, both during the 2003 season with each team posting a win.