VB Preview: Oregon Women’s Volleyball Kicks Off Postseason Play Against LMU

by Ryan Oppenheimer

Oregon Women’s Volleyball (23-5) enters Friday’s postseason matchup with the Loyola Marymount Lions (18-9) on a tear, having won 13 straight starting on Oct. 16. Their consistently dominant second half of the year earned them a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and an opportunity to host the first two rounds at Matthew Knight Arena, where they are undefeated on the season. It looks like a promising year for a program that has seen success but has never reached the mountaintop. Since their first-ever tourney appearance in 2006, they’ve only missed twice, with four sweet 16 births, one elite eight birth, and a single championship appearance in 2012 where they fell to Louisville. This year, Ulmer has as much talent at his disposal as ever. Superstar senior outside hitter Brooke Nuneviller and her prodigious freshman protegé Mimi Colyer were both named to the All-Pac-12 First Team, with Colyer also taking home Freshman of the Year Honors. Setter Hannah Pukis, who has been key to the recent winning streak, was also named to the first team, while libero Georgia Murphy and opposite hitter Gloria Mutiri made the second team. As a unit, the Ducks play a sound, low-error game, ranking fourth nationally in hitting percentage (.298).

The odds are clearly in Oregon’s favor, but anything can happen in December. They can’t afford to sleepwalk against the Lions, whose fast-paced offense and passing have garnered praise from Ulmer ahead of the match. Their success can be largely credited to three stellar sophomores: setter Isabella Bareford, who ranks 33rd nationally in assists/set; middle blocker Phoebe Awoleye, who finished 19th nationally in blocks/set; and 6’5 outside hitter Kari Geissberger, who comfortably led the team with 339 total kills. All three were named to the All-WCC First Team.

Oregon has easily handled Pac-12 teams this season that are significantly more dangerous than the young Lions, who finished third place in the WCC. As long as the Ducks don’t fall for a trap game, they’ll advance to play either Arkansas or Utah State.

Prediction: Oregon wins 3-1

STORY: Bushnell women open conference play with a statement victory

By Kent Williams

Audio story

Following a huge win last Wednesday, the Bushnell Beacons women’s basketball team(4-2, 1-0 CCC) were looking to start conference play in a similar fashion. And facing off against the Corban Warriors(2-4, 0-1 CCC) was the perfect opportunity to do so, as the Beacons had won their previous six contests against them. Following tonight, that tally can be increased to seven, as the Beacons played a stout defensive game on route to a 59-48 win. The final score can be deceiving, as the Warriors were able to put up a lot of points after the game had already been sealed away, and Bushnell will go into their next matchup feeling confident, despite a lackluster shooting night.

The big story for the Beacons tonight was their defensive performance, allowing nothing easy for the visiting Corban squad. Racking up 11 steals as a team, they did a great job hounding ball handlers and playing the passing lanes with active hands. Stepping up big for the Beacons was junior center Libby Mathis, racking up 3 blocks and a steal coming off the bench, while also contributing on the offensive end with 6 points, going 3-4.

Also performing well for Bushnell was veteran forward Aspen Slifka, who dropped a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, as well as 2 assists, 2 steals, and a block. Not only was she piling up the box score, but Slifka was also doing all the little things, tipping lots of passes, making heads up cuts to the basket, and overall showing her IQ for the game. In a game where plenty of Beacons contributed in a positive way, Aspen was certainly the standout for her team.

Bushnell will continue conference play on Friday, going up against the Multnomah Lions(2-2, 0-0 CCC), with tipoff scheduled for 5:30 pm.

Postgame audio from coach Meadors: