Ducks Helping Ducks on the Volleyball Court
When Hawaii native and senior volleyball defensive specialist Chelsey Keoho was looking for a college to transfer to after spending two years in Colorado, the University of Oregon seemed like a natural fit. Oregon has a large Hawaiian population—she even had family in Portland—the UO is well known in Hawaii, and it didn’t hurt that a certain Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback grew up just 30 minutes from her on Oahu; their high schools were just seven miles apart.
“It’s like a home away from home,” Keoho said. “Oregon’s really big in Hawaii, and I thought, ‘Why not?’ It was a great choice.”
After announcing she was transferring to the UO, Keoho then received a gift from the Hawaii Ducks that made her first year in Eugene that much better: she was selected as one of the chapter’s scholarship recipients.
“I was so appreciative,” she said. “I was really shocked and grateful that that existed. I didn’t know the Hawaii chapter had something like that.”
The scholarship Keoho received, the Duane Cargill Memorial Scholarship, was one of five awarded by the Hawaii Ducks in 2014, and one of 24 awarded by the UOAA’s 21 chapters. More than $48,000 was raised by the chapters last year, and the amount Keoho received enabled her to cover her expenses at the UO—a boon, as she did not receive an athletic scholarship her first season after transferring in.
With her finances covered, Keoho was able to focus on her studies and her play on the court. The general science student appeared in 19 matches for the Ducks in 2014, ranking third on the team in digs per set and notching 20 digs at Arizona.
In 2015, Keoho is battling junior Amanda Benson for the starting libero spot. Most of that initial competition will take place far away from Matthew Knight Arena though, as the Ducks play their first eleven matches on the road, a trip that will see the team play in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Austin, San Antonio, Corvallis, and Tucson before returning to Eugene. By the time No. 13-ranked UO plays its home opener, against preseason No. 24-ranked Colorado on October 2, it will have already faced No. 4 Florida, No. 5 Nebraska, and No. 17 Arizona. Oregon, Colorado, and Arizona are three of nine Pac-12 schools among the AVCA Coaches Poll preseason Top-25, a list that also includes No. 2 Stanford, No. 10 Washington, No. 16 Arizona State, No. 20 UCLA, No. 22 Southern California, and No. 23 Utah.
The Ducks lost six members of their 2014 Sweet Sixteen team, including middle blocker Serena Warner and outside hitter Liz Brenner, but replaced them with a recruiting class ranked No. 4 in the nation. All but one of the five freshmen made the top 50 nationwide in prepvolleyball.com’s Senior Aces list, led by Lindsey Vander Weide, the outside hitter ranked No. 13 overall nationally. The lone freshman to not make the top 50 was middle blocker Lauren Page, who barely missed the distinction, coming in at No. 54. The other new face joining the Ducks in 2015 is Portland State transfer Roni LaPierre, who started 16 matches for the Vikings in 2014.
In outside hitters Martenne Bettendorf and Frankie Shebby, and middle blocker Kacey Nady, the Ducks return three of their top four players in kills per set; Nady and Bettendorf also ranked second and third on the team respectively in hitting percentage behind the now-graduated Serena Warner, BS ’15. Maggie Scott, who started 28 matches as a freshman in 2014 and led the team with 829 assists at a 6.63 assists per set average will direct the offense at setter.
“We’re looking great,” said Keoho. “I don’t want to jinx it, but we have some stud freshmen coming in. Martenne is an All-American, Amanda’s the best in the country, and Kacy’s pretty darn good too. We have some great returners, but we’re also very young and have some big shoes to fill.
“I’m super excited for the season, and I’m ready to get it going.”
After playing their first eleven matches on the road, the Ducks play eight of their final twelve in Matthew Knight Arena, including clashes with UCLA on October 23, USC on October 25, Stanford on November 5, Washington on November 20, and Oregon State on November 27. To see the full schedule, click here.