Oregon volleyball comes up short in five sets to No. 20 UCLA

Simply put, the Oregon volleyball team has been on a roll. The Ducks jumped out to a 12-3 start to the season and opened Pac-12 play 5-1. After a three-set sweep of No. 10 Washington State, the Ducks jumped up to No. 16 in the NCAA RPI rankings.

However, Oregon couldn’t carry that momentum into Wednesday night, dropping a highly competitive and entertaining five-set match (28-26, 23-25, 20-25, 25-21, 9-15) to UCLA at Matthew Knight Arena.

“A hard-fought match like that — flip a coin,” head coach Jim Moore said.

Oregon wasn’t at its sharpest at all times during the night, but the Ducks battled in their first and fourth set wins. The back-and-forth first set of the night saw UCLA jump out to an early 6-1 advantage. Oregon slowly chipped away, and after a set which featured 13 ties and five lead changes, the Ducks came out on top to grab the early lead.

“We would be up, then we’d be down, then we’d be tied,” Amanda Benson said.

The same storyline followed in the fourth set. Down 14-9, Oregon rattled off five consecutive points to tie the contest at 14, eventually pulling away and bringing the match to a deciding fifth set. However, UCLA would take the final set, ultimately wearing down the Ducks just enough to escape Eugene with the victory.

“Momentum goes one way, and then it goes to the other side,” Benson said.

The two teams practically mirrored each other. UCLA finished with 70 kills and 14 blocks, compared to 69 kills and 15 blocks for Oregon. Junior Taylor Agost and freshman Jolie Rasmussen continued their strong play with 16 and 18 kills, respectively. Junior Maggie Scott had a solid night as well, hitting a perfect 100 percent on three kills, while adding 28 assists and 11 digs.

With a strong standing both nationally and in the Pac-12, the Ducks can’t let this loss deflate them for long. However, the second set was one that can’t sit well with the Ducks. Oregon had an opportunity to take a 2-1 lead going into the intermission, but the Ducks let a 20-14 lead slip away, giving UCLA their first set of the night.

“You’ve got to win that set,” said Moore. “You’ve got to put them away. … We have to calm down better.”

Oregon faces USC next Friday night at 8 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena.

“We’ve got to learn from that,” said Benson. “I don’t think we’ve been in a [five-set match] that close.”

Follow Cole Kundich on Twitter @colesportsUO

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Cole Kundich

Cole Kundich