The season is getting short for Arizona volleyball, but head coach Dave Rubio said after their loss to USC last Friday that there are still things to learn in the final three matches of the year. Against UCLA on Saturday, the Wildcats learned that they could bounce back after a bad loss and compete with a top team. Can they get their second win against a top 25 team this season when they face No. 19 Oregon?
It will be a tall task. The Ducks are 20-8 on the season and 11-7 in the Pac-12. They have already collected wins against Penn State, Stanford, and UCLA this season.
It seems like Oregon should be a team that Arizona is competitive with. The Ducks don’t have the overwhelming advantage in experience. They have just one grad student on the roster in Taylor Borup, and she has been out since late October. While their roster subtracts the spring season from their players’ class standing, that still only leaves them with two four-year players on the team. One of those players is a transfer who played her first season with the Ducks in the spring.
On the offensive side of play, Oregon is led by four-year player Brooke Nuneviller. She has spent part of her college career as a libero but is serving as an outside hitter these days—and a very good one. As far as scoring, she has been carrying the Ducks.
Nuneviller stands at No. 6 in the conference with 3.87 kills per set. She has done it at an very efficient pace lately, hitting over .300 in her last three matches—all against ranked teams. For the season, she’s hitting .246.
With Borup out, the next best offensive threat on the roster over the course of the full season is opposite Gloria Mutri. Mutri, who transferred in from Kansas State last season, is the other four-year player for the Ducks. This year, she is ranked No. 31 in the Pac-12 with 2.19 kills per set.
On paper, Arizona should be at least level with Oregon on the attack. The Wildcats don’t have anyone in the top 10 in kills per set, but their pins are ranked No. 15 (Jaelyn Hodge), No. 16 (Sofia Maldonado Diaz), and No. 24 (Puk Stubbe).
That bears out in conference play, as well. Nuneviller is ranked No. 6 during Pac-12 play, while Maldonado Diaz is No. 13, Stubbe is No. 18, and Hodge is No. 19. With Borup out, the Ducks’ second-best offensive threat during league play has been third-year player Morgan Lewis at No. 34.
With more offensive weapons, it should be more difficult to defend Arizona. Yet, Oregon has five more wins overall and four more wins in conference play.
The difference is that the Ducks not only won the matches they should have won, but they defeated Penn State, got the sweep of Stanford, and snuck out a straight-set victory over UCLA. If there’s something the Wildcats can learn from this season, it’s that.
Arizona (15-14, 7-11 Pac-12) at Oregon (20-8, 11-7 Pac-12)
When: Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. MST
Where: Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Ore.
TV/streaming: The match will be broadcast on Pac-12 Insider, which can be accessed online or via many TV platforms.
Stats: In-game stats are available at Oregon Live Stats.
Rankings and standings: Oregon is No. 19 in the AVCA poll and No. 23 in RPI. The Ducks are tied with Stanford for fifth in the conference. Arizona is No. 96 in RPI and is tied with ASU for eight in the league.
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