Exceeding expectations

Photo By: Geoff Thurner/Special to the Town Crier
Photo Geoff Thurner/Special To The Town Crier

University of Oregon outside hitter Katherine Fischer, center, goes on the attack against Nebraska in the NCAA regional final. The senior grew up in Los Altos.

At the start of the season, the University of Oregon volleyball team was not a popular pick to reach the Final Four – let alone the championship match. The Ducks had never advanced beyond the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA playoffs.

Yet Oregon outside hitter Katherine Fischer of Los Altos wasn’t surprised her team played in the final against Texas last month.

“We knew we were really good,” the senior said. “We had our starting lineup back (from 2011) and got more consistent.”

Out to make amends for last season’s first-round exit – which Fischer called “a huge disappointment” – the Ducks stunned higher-ranked teams Nebraska and Penn State in four games on their way to the title match.

There was no upsetting Texas, however, which swept Oregon Dec. 15 in Louisville.

“They have crazy-good athletes,” Fischer said of the Longhorns, who prevailed 25-11, 26-24, 25-19. “We didn’t play well – nerves got the better of us – but they’re obviously a really good team.”

The 5-foot-10 Fischer performed admirably, though, leading the Ducks in hitting percentage (.375) for the fifth time this season. The Homestead High graduate’s 13 kills tied for the team lead and her eight digs were second most on the squad.

But those numbers weren’t enough to comfort Fischer, more concerned with the end result.

“We didn’t win, so I’m not happy,” the four-year starter said. “The season was really good – we finished second – but we wanted first place and that didn’t happen.”

The elusive national title is something Fischer sought since arriving in Eugene, Ore. She first proclaimed that goal on a team bonding trip to the Oregon coast her freshmen year.

“Our coach asked us, ‘What do you want in life?’” Fischer recalled. “I said, ‘A national championship.’ We didn’t get that, which is kind of sad.”

The Ducks were down after losing the final, but coach Jim Moore helped them feel better.

“After getting our second-place trophies, we sat there in the locker room and a lot of us were crying,” Fischer said. “Then our coach told us, ‘I love you guys, and I wouldn’t trade you for anybody else.’”

And it’s doubtful Fischer would trade her four years at Oregon for anything, either.

“It’s been a great experience,” she said. “I’ll miss the community of Eugene – everyone’s nice and it’s a great college town.”

Fischer has performed as well in the classroom as she has on the court. She was recently honored as the Pac-12 Volleyball Senior Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Fischer, set to graduate with an accounting degree this spring, boasts a 4.01 cumulative GPA.

“I really want to do well in everything I do,” the three-time Academic All-American said. “I worked hard for my grades and in volleyball.”

Fischer added that she already has a job lined up at Ernst & Young in Portland next fall.

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