Oregon Tops BYU to Advance to Regional Final
With the win, Oregon (28-4) advanced to face the winner of Friday's other regional semifinal between fourth-seeded Nebraska and No. 13 Washington. Saturday's regional final is set for 5:30 p.m. (Central) and will air live nationally on ESPNU. BYU ended its season with a 28-4 record, advancing to an NCAA Regional for the first time since 2007.
Liz Brenner paced the Ducks with a match-high 26 kills on a .417 hitting percentage. Alaina Bergsma (17), Ariana Williams (13) and Katherine Fischer (12) joined Brenner with double-figure kills. Lauren Plum guided an efficient Oregon attack that hit .333 by dishing out 68 assists. Bergsma, Brenner and Fischer all produced double-doubles in digs and kills, as Oregon out-dug the Cougars, 73-58.
Jennifer Hamson led BYU with 18 kills, while Alexa Gray added 11 and Kathryn LeCheminant tallied seven kills. Hamson (.364) and LeCheminant (.385) were the only Cougars to hit above .215, while BYU hit .259 as a team.
Set one was tight throughout, featuring 11 ties and four lead changes. After trading sideouts for much of the set, BYU scored two straight points to take a 15-14 lead at the media timeout. The Cougars stretched the lead to 18-15 to mark the only time in the set that either team led by more than two points. Oregon fought back to tie the set at 21 on a Plum setter dump. The teams then traded sideouts until a Fischer ace gave Oregon a 23-22 lead, the Ducks' first lead since 14-13. Following a timeout, Bergsma delivered a kill to cap a 3-0 run that put Oregon at set point, 24-22. BYU fought off one set point before Brenner wrapped up the 25-23 Duck victory with her fifth kill of the set. Both teams attacked efficiently in the first set, as BYU hit .500, putting down 15 kills with only one error and Oregon hit .405 with 21 kills.
Set two featured a flurry of runs. Oregon jumped out to a quick 5-2 lead, before BYU responded by winning four of the next six rallies to pull within one. After the Ducks built the lead back to three and forced a BYU timeout, the Cougars went on an impressive 9-2 run through a pair of Oregon timeouts to take a 16-12 lead. The Ducks came right back with four straight points to tie the set and used an 8-1 run to pull back in front, 20-17. The Ducks led by at least two the rest of the set before Bergman closed out the 25-21 win with her sixth kill of the set and her 12th of the match.
The teams went back and forth early in set three. BYU scored the first two points of the set, before Oregon chipped away and took its first lead at 8-7. The Cougars came right back and grabbed an 11-9 advantage, forcing an Oregon timeout. The Ducks quickly pulled back to within one, before a LeCheminant kill capped a 7-1 BYU run that gave the Cougars a commanding 19-12 lead. But just as it did in set two, Oregon fought back, using an 8-2 run to pull within one at 21-20. The teams then traded sideouts before back-to-back Hamson kills gave the Cougars set point at 24-22. Hamson then closed out the 25-22 victory with her third straight kill and her sixth of the set.
In set four, Fischer had three early kills to help Oregon race out to a 9-2 lead. BYU cut the lead to five on three occasions over the next 15 rallies but could get no closer. Leading 17-11, the Ducks won eight of the final nine rallies, led by three kills from Brenner during that stretch, including the match winner.