Going back to a road loss at Arizona after leading two sets to none, Oregon has now dropped eight of their last nine sets and have seen their preseason stated goal of hosting an opening round of the NCAA tournament disappear in the process.
Looking to what positives he could find, Oregon head coach Matt Ulmer said “I thought this was maybe the best attitude we have had playing in a long time, maybe since Utah. I like that part about it, I thought we were really in it … I thought we did what we needed to do to put ourselves in a position to be successful, so it’s always frustrating when you get there and you don’t make plays down the stretch. I thought we were much tougher today, I thought our defense was miles better than it has been in a really long time, so I was really proud of the way we fought on defense.”
The first set started off reasonably well for the Ducks. A string of six straight points gave Oregon an 8-4 lead early on and the Ducks held a five-point advantage as late as 17-12 until A run of five straight Washington points erased that lead and a another run of four straight to closed out the set.
Washington broke a three all tie in the second set and Oregon was never able to stem the tide as the Huskies eventually opened an eight point margin at 23-15 to take control of the set and the match.
A resilient effort in the third set saw the Ducks take a five point lead at 14-9 but as in the first set, the Washington attack began to erode away at that margin, eventually leveling the match 20-20 before scoring five of the last seven points to complete the sweep.
“(Washington) kept the pressure on and sometimes we responded great and sometimes we didn’t,” said Ulmer. “We tended not to when it was tight at the end.”
Oregon’s defense held the Huskies to a .211 hitting average but could only muster a .189 clip on the attack. Taylor Agost continued her fine senior season with a team leading 11 kills.
The loss drops Oregon’s season record to 16-10 and to 9-9 in Pac-12 play. The Huskies improved to 22-7 overall and 12-6 in conference.
The Ducks close out the home schedule against USC at 2:00 pm on Wednesday before wrapping up the regular season at Oregon State on Friday. While hosting an opening round match is out of reach, the Ducks are likely to be selected for post season play. The NCAA bracket will be announced on Sunday, November 26th.
~ Rick Morgan