The number of unbeaten women's volleyball teams in the nation is down to a precious few, and Oregon is one of them. Whether the Ducks remain perfect will be determined this week.
Nationally No. 2 Oregon (5-0, 14-0) will put its perfect records on the line Friday night (5:30 p.m.) when it visits No. 7 Stanford (4-0, 12-2) in a battle for first place in the Pac-12 Conference.
Making the showdown all the more special will be an appearance of the 1992 Stanford team that won the program's first NCAA title. Since this year marks the 20th anniversary of that championship, the team will be on campus for this weekend's homecoming activities and will be honored at Friday's match between sets 2 and 3.
Oregon tied its best winning streak (14) since the start of NCAA volleyball play with its 3-1 victory over host California (8-7, 2-3) at Haas Pavilion Wednesday night.
With their 25-20, 25-18, 17-25, 25-25-15 victory, the Ducks matched their previous best mark that it staked to start the 2010 season.
"You don't always win big matches when you're at your best," Oregon head coach Jim Moore said, "sometimes you have to do it when you aren't at your best and still find a way. Everybody's sick right now, but we got through it. We had good focus, and our balance helped us get through it. We blocked well tonight, and so did they, and part of it is was the fact that we didn't hit smart at times."
Prior to the Cal match, Oregon led the nation in kills (15.l7) and assists (14.65) per set, while ranking fifth in hitting percentage (.318). The Ducks are led by a pair of veteran seniors in Alaina Bergsma and Los Altos resident Katherine Fischer. Junior setter Lauren Plum leads the nation with 12.88 assists per set while junior middle blocker Ariana Williams leads the Pac-12 in hitting with a .444 percentage.
Stanford leads the all-time series with Oregon (50-4), but split two matches last season -- the Cardinals' loss coming at home.
Stanford will host Oregon State on Sunday (2 p.m.) and will host both No. 5 USC and No. 6 UCLA next week.
Stanford will host the U.S. Stars and Stripes tournament this weekend with games played both at Stanford and Burlingame High. The tournament is a precursor to the 2013 FIL Women's Lacrosse World Cup in Oshawa, Ontario.
The event is taking place on the West Coast for the first time.
Stanford, California and Japan's top university, Rikkyo, will play against the national teams from the United States, Australia, England and Canada. Sunday's match between the United States and Australia will be a rematch of the gold-medal game from the 2009 World Cup, which the Americans won 8-7.
Stars & Stripes will be the first major competitive event for the 2012-14 U.S. Women's National Team as it begins the march toward the World Cup. Stanford head coach Amy Bokker is an assistant for the U.S. team, while assistant coach Lauren Schwarzmann is a midfielder for Team USA.
For Stanford, assistant coach Brooke McKenzie will take an increased role for the weekend with Bokker and Schwarzmann fulfilling its duties for Team USA. Stanford will face the USA squad on Sunday at noon, immediately following the rematch of the U.S. and Australia, which will be at 10 a.m. and broadcast live on ESPN3.
Stanford also will face Australia on Friday at 5 p.m. Both the U.S. and Australia games for Stanford will be played at Cagan Stadium.
Cardinal freshman Krista Hardebeck booked a spot in the main singles draw of the Riviera/ITA All-American Championships, wrapping up a dominant run through the qualifying round.
Hardebeck defeated Florida's Sofie Oyen, 6-2, 6-3, on Wednesday morning, collecting her third straight win to reach Thursday's main draw. The Cardinal freshman experienced little trouble in her first two matches, taking down Nebraska's Patricia Veresova, 6-3, 6-0, and Duke's Ester Goldfield, 6-2, 6-1.
Meanwhile, teammmate Ellen Tsay notched a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 triumph over Melissa Kopinski of Illinois in a qualifying back draw match on Wednesday afternoon. Tsay dropped her opening-round qualifying match, falling to UCLA's Pamela Montez 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (8-6).
Joining Hardebeck in Thursday's main singles draw will be Stacey Tan, slated to face Tennessee's Brynn Boren in her opener. Hardebeck's opponent has yet to be determined.
Tan and Tsay also will pair up in the main doubles draw Thursday, facing a qualifier in their first-round contest.
Stanford's John Morrissey advanced to the main singles draw of the ITA All-American Championships on Wednesday afternoon, picking up his third win in qualifying action in Tulsa, Okla.
Morrissey defeated UCLA's Dennis Mkrtchian, 6-4, 6-3, in the third round and will next face Denver's Enej Bonin on Thursday.
In doubles play, Morrissey and Matt Kandath dropped an 8-4 decision to Baylor's Marko Krickovic and Robert Verzaal on Wednesday.