EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon volleyball team continued its surge toward the stretch run Wednesday night, when the No. 15 Ducks extended their winning streak to four by beating No. 12 Utah, 25-18, 21-25, 25-23, 25-22 before 1,250 fans in Matthew Knight Arena.
"This was a match I was looking forward to," UO coach Matt Ulmer said. "We're both healthy, we're both full strength, and we're both really good. For our confidence, this should do wonders, because that was a really good team that played well. And we played better."
How It Happened: Oregon (14-5, 7-4 Pac-12) started hot in the opening set. Kills from Jolie Rasmussen and Lindsey Vander Weide, two by Willow Johnson and another by Ronika Stone quickly made it 5-51. The Ducks capitalized on two errors by Utah (17-5, 8-3) to score four straight for a 10-3 lead, and scored another four in a row to go up 15-8. Down 19-10, the Utes clawed back within 22-18, but Oregon finished it off from there with three straight, two of those kills by Taylor Agost.
After hitting .355 in the opening set, the Ducks hit .120 in the second, and Utah won 25-21. But Oregon found its groove after the set break, hitting .371 in the third set and .364 in the fourth. In the third, Oregon trailed 13-12 before rallying into a 20-15 lead with more well-rounded offense. Utah scored five in a row to stave off set point, but after a UO timeout, Stone drove home the winner.
The fourth played out in similar fashion. Two Rasmussen kills got Oregon out to an early lead, two in a row from Agost made it 9-7, and a couple of blocks by Stone contributed to a five-point rally for a 19-12 advantage. Lauren Page set up set point with an emphatic kill for a 24-20 lead, and though the Utes rallied with two straight, Stone finished off another set for the victory.
"We were jumping higher at the end than we were at the beginning, and that's pretty amazing," Ulmer said. "I think we're in great shape, and we feel good. And it's late October, so if you're in shape and feeling good, that's a real plus."
Who Stood Out: Ramussen hit .375 with 15 kills and Stone hit .450 with 11 kills to lead the Ducks. Agost added 10 kills with no attack errors, Johnson had nine and Vander Weide finished with eight. Rasmussen added 12 digs, and Maggie Scott also had a double-double with 26 assists and 12 digs. As a team, the Ducks had nine blocks, with Stone factoring in seven.
What It Means: The Ducks began their second weekend with a healthy Rasmussen stabilizing what had been an improvised rotation for much of conference play. Rasmussen's return has taken pressure off Agost to play start to finish, and allowed Stone to stay home in the middle. "For us, we looked way more comfortable out there together," Ulmer said.
Notable: The Ducks are now 4-4 against ranked opponents this season. ... Oregon improves to 11-1 at home this year. ... The Ducks are 14-1 this year when leading in hitting percentage (.287 to .241). ... Rasmussen's 15 kills are a season high. ... Scott notched her fourth double-double of the year, while Rasmussen recorded her first. ... Oregon now has a 14-7 lead in the all-time series with Utah.
Up Next: The Ducks close out a four-match homestand when they host Colorado on Friday (7 p.m, Oregon Live Stream).
Story provided by UO Athletics.