It’s been a dream season for the women’s volleyball team of the University of Oregon. The Ducks have taken the court with the best squad they’ve ever had. After closing out the regular season with 29 wins in arguably the strongest college volleyball conference in the country for a second place Pac-12 finish, the Ducks went on to host the first round of the NCAA tournament in Eugene. They’ve been flying through tournament play, winning the first two rounds in three set sweeps. The Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight ended in 3-1 victories for the Ducks and as the team closes in on the championship this Saturday, it appears that the yellow and green is peaking at the right time.
Going into the final week of their season, the Ducks lead the nation in kills and as of Wednesday’s announcement will start three All-Americans. Senior Alaina Bergsma, junior Lauren Plum, and sophomore Liz Brenner all captured national honors in route to leading the Ducks to their first ever Final Four appearance. Bergsma and Plum are repeat honorees after being named to last year’s third and honorable mention teams respectively. Bergsma led the Pac-12 in kills and points this year while Plum ranks first nationally in assists. Brenner, a young three-sport athlete, achieves not only an impressive season as an underclassman but also marks the continuity of Duck talent in future seasons.
Overall, Oregon has wielded plenty of tools to climb their way to the top. Aside from 2012 being their best season in school history, they can also take pride in being the last team from the Pac-12 standing in NCAA tournament play. Their impressive season hasn’t gone unnoticed either. This year the team hasn’t just garnered national attention from the polls but the support of their school – which is unfortunately a rarity in college volleyball.
More than once the stands at Matt Knight Arena were full of Duck supporters and word spread about the team’s success as the girls constantly fought against premier volleyball schools like Stanford and Washington for top conference and national rankings. This November when the opening rounds of the tournament were played in Eugene, it wasn’t just the beginning of a long sought road to a trophy that made it special for the squad, but the honor of brining the community and school together for their sport.
Now as the championship comes within reach, whether the team wins or loses, the Ducks can take a pause to revel in being part of the school’s most successful volleyball season in history. With their dreamlike season and celebratory run to the Final Four, Oregon volleyball has proven that they deserve a place at the top, and in my opinion will continue to find themselves there in the future.
Their success also falls into a prosperous season for the University of Oregon as a whole. As the year wraps up the football team is headed to a BCS bowl game, women’s cross country has won a national championship, and now the women of volleyball land within two wins of a championship of their own. In many ways this autumn has been Duck season. Though it’s early, another Oregon team is worthy of congratulations for crafting a reputation of their own with their impressive run to national collegiate volleyball dominance.