There were no surprises for the Oregon volleyball team Sunday night when the NCAA tournament field was announced.
As expected, the Ducks made the postseason for the seventh time in eight years with an at-large berth, and if they want to get back to the national championship game, all wins must come on the road, beginning Friday in Lincoln, Neb., with a first-round match against Miami (19-11) at 2:30 p.m. in the 8,000-seat Devaney Sports Center.
Eighth-seeded Nebraska (23-6) also will host Fairfield (19-12) on Friday in the other first-round game at the site.
“Now it’s time to get down to business,” Oregon coach Jim Moore said Sunday from his home, where his players had gathered to watch the tournament unveiling on ESPNU following a team dinner.
It’s the third straight NCAA tournament for the Ducks (19-11), who have gone 10-6 in the postseason under Moore, including three trips to the Sweet 16 and last season’s appearance in the championship match when they lost to Texas.
But the Ducks kickstarted their tournament run last year at home, with wins against Northern Colorado and Dayton at Matthew Knight Arena. Oregon then went to Omaha, Neb., where it advanced to the Final Four with a victory over the Cornhuskers in front of nearly 10,000 red-clad Nebraska fans. It won’t be any different this weekend if Oregon and Nebraska happen to meet in the second-round match Saturday at 5 p.m.
“It’s great to play volleyball in Nebraska just because of how much they love volleyball,” said senior setter Lauren Plum, who remembered the Ducks receiving an ovation from Nebraska fans when they returned to the team hotel after beating the Cornhuskers.
Oregon heads into the postseason having won five straight matches and seven of its last 10 to lock up a 12-8 fourth-place finish in the Pac-12, which placed nine teams in the tournament.
“I think we’re back on track in terms of what it takes to be successful at this time of year,” Moore said. “I think we feel good about where we are as a team and as a program. We’re playing our best volleyball right now and that’s exactly what you want to do, you want to be playing your best volleyball at the end of the year.”
Miami finished fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference to make its fifth straight NCAA tournament. The Ducks and Hurricanes have never played each other.
“Everyone wants to win a national championship, and that’s what you have to go in aiming for,” said junior outside hitter Liz Brenner, who is 10th nationally with 4.62 kills per set. “Yeah, we have different people (than last season), but that doesn’t change our expectations at all.”