Oregon clinches messy but decisive win against Washington State

No. 11 Oregon volleyball dismantled Washington State in four sets on Friday, prolonging the Cougars’ brutal start in conference.

The Cougars had the tall task of facing five straight ranked teams to open up Pac-12 play, but Oregon head coach Jim Moore was quite weary of their less than indicative record.

“I am literally watching tape going I don’t know how we can beat [Washington State],” Moore said. “I knew they could make errors but offensively they are the real deal.”

Nevertheless, the Cougars did not seem fazed by Oregon’s track record early on.

Washington State came out firing on all cylinders with three service aces and a .424 hitting percentage in the first set. Sophomore outside hitter Kyra Holt dominated on the outside with nine kills and one error.

Communication lapses cost the Ducks a few points as they watched a couple balls fall between two players and committed a rotation violation and that allowed Washington State to take the first set decidedly by a score of 25-18.

Oregon has not lost to Washington State since 2005, when the schools shared a 32-32-1 series record against one another. Since then, Oregon has emerged victorious in each of its last 15 match-ups.

Although Washington State provided a scare in the first set, the Ducks made the necessary adjustment in the second.

Oregon took six of the first seven points behind kills from Martenne Bettendorf and Kacey Nady. The Washington State offense recorded a dismal -.025 hitting percentage in the 25-17 set loss.

The Ducks continued to apply the pressure in the third set and Washington State was severely overwhelmed.

Liz Brenner stepped up and led the charge as she’s done all season for the Ducks, helping build an early 8-2 lead that set the tone for the remainder of the set. From then on Oregon never looked back, handling the Cougars with a huge 24-14 third set victory.

The fourth set was a true boxing match as the teams traded punches back and forth all set long. Neither team held more than a two-point lead until Oregon created some breathing room at 18-15.

Brenner looked to be in rare form, burying a 40-foot smash across the court in the far corner of the Cougars’ back line. Oregon suffered another late scare as Washington State closed the gap to 24-23 at match point but after a regrouping timeout, Bettendorf delivered the death blow for a 3-1 match victory.

Chelsey Keoho made her season debut in the match and allotted for eight of Oregon’s 52 digs. Brenner, Nady, Bettendorf and Serena Warner each had double digit points, while Nady posted a hitting percentage of .591.

Holt continued her outstanding year for Washington State, accumulating a match leading 19 kills and 22 points. The Cougars finished the set with a hitting percentage of .128 and fall to 9-8 on the season.

Oregon improves to 14-1 with the win and takes on undefeated and No. 3 ranked Washington at home on Sunday at 11:00 am.

“Washington does what Washington does,” said Moore. “We’re going to have to execute at a very high level to beat them.”

Follow Kenny Jacoby on Twitter @Kennyjacoby

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