Oregon offered up double trouble in the middle for Long Beach State on Friday at Matthew Knight Arena in the Oregon Classic volleyball tournament.
With middle blockers Sumeet Gill and Ronika Stone splitting time, they combined for 23 kills as the 18th-ranked Ducks (3-2) took care of the 49ers (3-3) by 25-14, 25-17, 25-18 scores to the enjoyment of the 1,044 in attendance.
Gill had a career-best 12 kills herself with a hitting percentage of .632 while Stone added 11 kills and hit .500.
“It’s really special that we’re on a team that’s able to run such an aggressive attack through the middle and that’s really unique and hard for people to stop,” said Gill, a senior. “When we have the chance to exploit that part of the game, it’s really great.”
UO coach Matt Ulmer traced the offensive output to the fact “Ronika and Sumeet are two of the best offensive middles in the country,” and added that working with new UO assistant Erika Dillard has “had a big impact” for both.
Stone was an all-conference player last year, so naturally Ulmer has been looking for even more from the junior.
“Sumeet has been really consistent all year,” Ulmer said. “She’s steppping up as a senior and she’s coming into her own and you can see her confidence grow with every rep.”
That may also help explain setter August Raskie going to the middle so often, with the two middle blockers combining for 39 attack attempts in the match.
“We’ve never had that,” Ulmer said.
For her part, Gill said “I felt comfortable ... the flow was good, the communication was really good.
“The more we talk, the better it is for us.”
Beating Long Beach State made it a sweep of matches Friday after the Ducks rolled past Utah Valley earlier by scores of 25-16, 25-23, 25-12.
Oregon held Utah Valley to a .085 hitting percentage, with the defense led by seven blocks by Stone and six more by Willow Johnson, who also recorded 14 kills with a hitting percentage of .565. Raskie added a double-double with 38 assists and 10 digs, with the assists moving Raskie into the top 10 all-time list at Oregon.
Against Long Beach State, the Ducks broke away from an 8-all tie with a 10-3 spurt to take the first set while hitting .310. Oregon trailed in the second set 15-13 before scoring nine consecutive points, interrupted only by the 49ers using both of its timeouts. That UO run included back-to-back plays in which Raskie had a block for a point and then a kill.
The Ducks wrapped it up by using another nine-point run to take a 10-1 lead in the third set and went on to hit .308 while limiting LBS to a .104 percentage in the set, and .101 in the match.
Oregon will conclude play in the tournament when it meets Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-5) on Saturday at 1 p.m.
In the tournament’s other matches Friday, Long Beach State swept Arkansas-Pine Bluff 25-12, 25-18, 25-9 and Utah Valley did the same, taking Arkansas-Pine Bluff in three sets, 25-11, 25-9, 25-18.
In Saturday’s other match, Long Beach State and Utah Valley (3-3) will play at 11 a.m.