It goes without saying that the focus of fall sports at the University of Oregon centers around football. So does the nation. Even without knowing who the starting quarterback is, there’s enough around the field like player of the year candidate De’Anthony Thomas, elite running back Kenjon Barner, and multi-award candidate Dion Jordan on the defensive end.
That doesn’t mean the women should be ignored when the men play on the field. For casual fans who aren’t following the Ducks’ volleyball team, they’ve been to the NCAA tournament five of the last seven years, and last season was one of the best ever.
Being ranked in the top 25 every week, defeating two top ranked teams (Penn State and UCLA), and reaching a record crowd of 6,210 against California were just some of the things the team accomplished under head coach Jim Moore, and the momentum isn’t going to stop. Here’s five reasons why the casual fan that hasn’t watched a minute of volleyball should check out the team.
1) Everybody’s Back
If you were impressed by what this team accomplished last year, get ready for a mind explosion – none of them were seniors. Three players were ranked in Pac-12’s top ten in numerous categories.
- Alaina Bergsma: third in kills (510 overall, 4.51 per set) and fourth in points (578.5 overall, 5.12 per set)
- Lauren Plum: second in assists (1,330 overall, 11.67 per set)
- Haley Jacob: seventh in digs (500 overall, 4.39 per set)
They also ranked in the top 15th nationally as a team with kills (12th) and assists (15th). Bergsma was 12th in points and 14th in kills while Plum was 10th in assists.
Reaching a rank of 13th in the AVCA, an unbelievably tough stretch of facing four straight teams in the top seven, and an upset at home against Utah, they were only able to reach 6th in the conference with a 14-8 record (21-10 overall).
2) The Pac-12 is Stacked
Don’t want your time wasted by watching mediocre volleyball? That’s not going to happen in this conference. Seven teams made it into the tournament last season, and UCLA won the national championship. USC made the national semifinals.
Six teams are currently ranked in the AVCA Preseason Coaches Poll – all in the top 20. UCLA reigns at the top with 54 first-place votes as they defend their title. USC and Stanford are at fifth and sixth.
In comparison, the Big Ten is the only other conference that has six teams in the top 25.
Oregon finds themselves at 20th, but the Pac-12 Coaches Poll picked the Ducks to finish fourth in the conference with all the key returners back. 2012 could be yet another chapter where Moore continues to build this team into an elite program.