Fifteen-seed Oregon Volleyball (23-11) saw their season come to a close in Minneapolis on Saturday, December 8, dropping straight sets to seven-seed and reigning national champion Nebraska 25-22, 25-23, and 25-17 in the Elite Eight. Despite a tight first two sets, Oregon went into intermission down 2-0, a deficit the Ducks faced in eight winless matches this year. The Ducks and ‘Huskers were tied 20-20 in both sets, while Oregon held a 12-7 lead early in the second set, but Nebraska rebounded in large part thanks to two-time NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Mikaela Foecke’s 16 kills (.400) and 13 digs. Oregon then faced Nebraska dominance in the third frame, as the Huskers led early and pulled away late for a no-doubt victory and spot in the Final Four.
The loss ends a banner year for second-year head coach Matt Ulmer, whose all-time record drops to 41-23. The former Carthage College setter led Oregon to just its second-ever Elite Eight and the program’s first since 2012. Now the Ducks must say goodbye to senior middle blockers Lauren Page and Sumeet Gill, three-time All-Pac-12 outside hitter Lindsey Vander Weide, and setter August Raskie, whose 11.71 assists per set ranked second in the Pac-12 and top ten in the NCAA heading into the weekend.
MATCH STORY (by Matt Tyra)
Nebraska Head Coach John Cook, Outside Hitter Mikaela Foecke, and Middle Blocker Lauren Stirvins
Oregon Head Coach Matt Ulmer, Middle Blocker Ronika Stone, and Libero Brooke Nuneviller
Fifteen-seed Oregon Volleyball won the wildest match of their season on Friday, December 7, toppling the 2-seed Minnesota Golden Gophers in four viciously-fought sets to clinch a spot in the Elite Eight. The Ducks went down early, dropping set one 25-21, as Minnesota’s Samantha Seliger-Swenson dished 20 assists to her teammates in the frame. Coming into the match, Oregon had been 4-8 when losing set one.
That was before pandemonium took over in Maturi Pavilion. Oregon won one of the tightest sets played in recent NCAA history, duking it attack-for-attack with the Gophers for a 41-39 set victory. Not only did Oregon had to dispel nine different potential set-points from Minnesota, but the Ducks officially lost the set for a moment before head coach Matt Ulmer’s challenge overturned UM’s set-point. Redshirt sophomore Brooke Van Sickle, Oregon’s swiss-army knife, then delivered two of her four kills on the night in back-to-back fashion to clinch the set victory.
Oregon closed the match with a dominant 25-14 third set and a tight finish to the fourth, which the Ducks eeked out 26-24. Junior middle blocker Ronika Stone earned a career-high 20th kill on the winning swing, while senior setter August Raskie compiled 10 kills, 60 assists, and 11 digs for UO’s first postseason triple-double and Raskie’s second of the year. Oregon moves to 23-10 on the year and into the Elite Eight, where they will challenge the reigning-champion Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday, December 8 at 3 PM PT.
MATCH STORY (by Matt Tyra)
Minnesota: Hugh McCutcheon, Samantha Seliger-Swenson & Taylor Morgan
Oregon: Matt Ulmer, August Raskie & Lindsey Vander Weide
Assistant Coach Erika Dillard Joins the Postmatch Show