A showdown between a pair of Pac-12 heavyweights didn’t go Oregon’s way with the Ducks falling first to UCLA if five sets (28-26, 23-25, 20-25, 25-21, 9-15) on Wednesday then in four to the Trojans of USC (30-28, 22-25, 20-25, 21-25) two days later at Matthew Knight Arena.
“You get into a fifth set and it’s a coin flip,” said Oregon head coach Jim Moore. “When two teams are going at it like that … it’s a coin flip.”
Most frustrating for Moore was the 20th-ranked Bruins storming back from a 20-14 deficit to prevent the Ducks from grabbing a 2-0 stranglehold on the match.
“You have to win that [second] set,” said Moore. “You have to put people away – we’re not responding well to pressure. UCLA did a great job … they … put a lot of pressure on us.”
“That’s what you get with a young team,” allowed senior Amanda Benson. “We’ve just got to learn how to be mature and grow from that.”
Jolie Rasmussen’s 18 kills led a trio of Ducks who reached double digits and Taylor Agost posted 7 blocks to head that category.
The Bruins outhit Oregon .225 to .192.
Friday’s match with USC didn’t do much to address Moore’s concerns.
After winning the first set, the Ducks faltered down the stretch allowing the Trojans to take control of the match in the later stages of the next three sets.
“We are struggling offensively … we dug a lot of balls but I thought we played defense pretty well,” he said.
“”We are not grinding. That’s literally one of the things I was going to say. We are not grinding it out. We are not getting tough when it gets in a crucial situation. We are in a slump offensively. We have some pin hitters that basically hit zero, they’re all way down there, under .100 … you really have to grind it out and we are just not doing a very good job of that.”
Agost and freshman Ronika Stone paced the team with 12 kills each with Stone also credited with a team leading seven blocks.
The two losses drop the Ducks to 12-5 on the year and 5-3 in conference play, log jammed with six other teams one game behind the league leading Washington Huskies.
The Utah Utes are one of those teams and will be Oregon’s next opponent, hosting the Ducks in Salt Lake City on Friday. After facing Colorado on Sunday, the Ducks return to Matthew Knight to host Arizona on Friday October 28th beginning at 7:00 pm.