The Oregon Ducks got their first chance to host an opening round of an NCAA Tournament since 2014 and they didn’t disappoint. Oregon has been plagued with slow starts all season and Thursday night at Matthew Knight Arena would be no different. New Mexico State (24-8) would jump out to a quick 9-4 lead over Oregon (21-10) in set one, forcing them to regroup. After an early set one timeout by head coach Matt Ulmer, the Ducks would rattle off multiple runs of four consecutive points. The Ducks would comeback and take a set one victory. The Ducks could not control New Mexico State’s diverse offensive attack in set two as the Aggies rattled off a 15-4 run to end set two. The Ducks would go into intermission needing a to be recharged after being dominated in set two. Oregon’s Willow Johnson would become the jolt that Oregon needed down the homestretch. Johnson had not served very much her entire Oregon career, but her performance on Thursday night might change that. Johnson along with Linsdey Vander Weide, who finished the night with 18 kills, 10 digs and five blocks, would lead the Ducks to a set three victory. Johnson shined in set four when the Aggies serve receive crumbled. Johnson’s service fueled an an 11-0 run that would lead to New Mexico State’s demise, giving the Ducks a first round victory in four sets (25-22, 18-25, 21-25, 25-11). No. 14 Oregon will meet the No.25 Baylor Bears in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Friday at Matthew Knight Arena. The Bears mounted a comeback against Hawaii, winning three straight sets to advance to round two of the NCAA Tournament. Oregon and Baylor will meet for a top-25 match up with first serve coming at 7 p.m.
Match Story (by Gabriel Ornelas)
New Mexico State Aggies
Head Coach Mike Jordan, Setter Briana Ainsworth and Outside Hitter Tatyana Battle
Head Coach Matt Ulmer, Outside Hitter Willow Johnson and Outside Hitter Lindsey Vander Weide