Down Rasmussen and Van Sickle, Ducks play on
No. 15 Oregon will compete in this week’s matches with a slightly new lineup since the status of outside hitter Jolie Rasmussen is still unclear.
An injury delayed the sophomore’s start to the season. She made her debut on Aug. 31 and averaged 2.33 kills and 1.87 digs per set in the six matches she appeared in. But her season was halted by injury once again when she suffered a concussion in the Oregon’s match against No. 11 UCLA on Sept. 22.
After sitting out matches against No. 15 Utah and Colorado, Rasmussen looked healthy as she practiced throughout the week leading up to Oregon’s heavily anticipated match against No. 2 Stanford on Friday, Oct. 6.
“I think Jolie is finally getting back and healthy,” senior setter Maggie Scott said the Wednesday before the match. “We’re excited to have her back as she gets back to getting in the swings of things.”
On the morning of Friday’s match, Rasmussen was still not cleared to play, forcing head coach Matt Ulmer to rely on the team’s depth against the Cardinal.
Last weekend’s matches against Stanford and California marked four consecutive games without Rasmussen. Fellow teammates have stepped up and quickly adapted to the new game plans. Senior Taylor Agost demonstrated her ability to the adjustment as she played through all court rotations against Stanford.
“Taylor has stepped up this past weekend when she played all the way around,” senior Alex Hojnar said. “She hasn’t had much time playing back row and she stepped up.”
In addition to Rasmussen’s absence, the Ducks are getting used to playing without their other sophomore outside hitter Brooke Van Sickle.
During Oregon’s first matches of the season, Van Sickle landed on another player which caused heavy discomfort in her left knee. She sat out the Oregon Classic the following weekend.
“If you go back to the first weekend,” Ulmer said. “Brooke made so many defensive plays that just kept us going, and just that all-around court savvy that she can do from everywhere.”
Van Sickle played in Oregon’s next four matches but hasn’t taken the court since Sept. 22 due to her nagging injury. On Oct. 2, Van Sickle decided to have season-ending surgery on the meniscus in her left leg after the new injury forced her to revisit the tendon, which she previously tore as a junior in high school.
“She tried to fight back,” Ulmer said. “We tried to see if it was something she could play through, but it wasn’t. It’s time to just do the surgery and try to get her back for next year. ”
With Van Sickle out for the season and the possibility of two more matches without Rasmussen, the team will have to rely on each other to step up and adapt to the new lineup as they take on No. 14 Washington on Wednesday and Washington State on Friday.
“One of my philosophies is the team that is going to be the most successful has the least amount of distractions,” Ulmer said last week. “And we’ve had quite a few distractions, whether that’s travel or injuries, we just need to stabilize a little bit and I hope we’re doing that right now.”
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter @maggie_vanoni
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