Oregon Ducks Volleyball: Crucial road test await undefeated squad

After vaulting to number two in the nation after sweeping Oregon State and USC, the Ducks continued their undefeated mark after blowing by two weaker opponents in the Pac-12 last week. Another big test awaits them this week with a couple of ranked teams in California.

August 27, 2011; State College, PA, USA; Oregon Ducks middle hitter Milica Krstojevic (17) scores a point against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Rec Hall. Minnesota defeated Oregon 3 games to 2. Mandatory Credit: Rob Christy-US PRESSWIRE

The Ducks currently sit tied with third-ranked Washington at 13-0 overall and 4-0 in the conference. Both teams are the only teams remaining that are undefeated overall.

So who’s in first if that’s the case? It’s 14-1 Penn State, who’s received 42 of the 60 overall first-place votes in the latest AVCA poll. Their loss came to Oregon State 3-2. They also were taken by Stanford to five sets before pulling out the win.

Due to the tough non-conference schedule the Nittany Lions had, it’s why the team probably sits at one right now. But things could shake up this week.

Oregon hasn’t dropped a set since their 3-1 victory over UC Santa Barbara on September 5th. That’s six straight games with 3-0 victories. Dominating in that fashion in the best women’s volleyball conference in the nation? It’s only certain that the Ducks can push Penn State down by conference SOS.

It could happen as soon as next week. Up next for the Ducks are 17th-ranked California on Wednesday in Berkeley and sixth-ranked Stanford on Friday in Stanford. The Cardinal are the only other team that’s still undefeated in conference play.

What’s made all the success for Oregon?

  • In conference play, Oregon leads in hitting percentage (.308), opponent’s hitting percentage (.132), assists (15.42 per set), and service aces (1.75 per set).
  • Ariana Williams has been incredibly efficient, being the only player hitting above .500 in the conference. Lauren Plum also leads in assists (13.67 per set)
  • Katherine Fischer has nine service aces in 12 sets. Only Camille Saxton has a better average with 12 in 14 sets.
  • To open up conference play, Oregon has held each team to 16 points or less in at least one of their sets.

This is all eye-opening domination, and there are four other teams in the conference that join them in the AVCA top seven (USC, UCLA, Stanford, Washington).

The contest against California begins at 7:00 p.m. PT on Wednesday (Pac-12 Network) and against Stanford begins at 5:30 p.m. PT on Friday (Pac-12 Oregon, Bay Area).

Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Autzen Zoo. See his banter with other FanSided writers and love for his favorite west coast professional teams by following him on Twitter.

Read his other work on the Iowa State blog, Clones Confidential, and Lacrosse the Web.

Topics: California Golden Bears, Oregon Ducks, Pac-12, Stanford Cardinal, Women's Volleyball

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