In their second game of the Oregon Classic, the No. 14 Oregon Ducks defeated the Loyola Marymount Lions 3-2 at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday night.
The Lions made the Ducks work for every point in this game. In the deciding fifth set, the Lions jumped out to a 5-2 lead, so Oregon head coach Matt Ulmer called timeout to regroup. It worked, as the Ducks responded with six straight points to take a three point lead. Later in the set, after the Lions got within one at 9-8, the Ducks again went on a six point run, this time clinching the match.
“Where we strive is when we have lots of energy and lots of enthusiasm and we feed off each other,” senior hitter Taylor Agost said. “At the end of our match we knew we had to bring that back and bring the fire.”
The Lions had an opportunity to finish the game in the fourth set. The Lions were leading 16-13 when Oregon head coach Matt Ulmer called a timeout to turn the game around and extend the match to a winner-take-all fifth set.
The Ducks responded with four straight points to take the lead to 17-16, forcing the Lions to use their timeout. The Lions answered with two-of-three to tie it, but Oregon put together seven out of eight to win the fourth set and force the deciding final set.
“[LMU’s] strengths are, right now, our weaknesses,” Ulmer said. “I thought it was going to be a very frustrating match and it was. I’m just really proud of us because generally when you’re frustrated is when you fall apart.”
In set one, with Oregon trailing 22-15, the Ducks were looking for a comeback and scored three straight, forcing an LMU timeout. With the Ducks within four, LMU responded by scoring three out of the last four points to give the Lions the set one victory 25-19.
Set two was another close battle, however, this time it was Oregon that led for the majority of it. The Ducks appeared to be headed towards closing out the set, needing one point to win the set. That point proved hard to achieve, as the Lions scored three straight to pull within one point, forcing an Oregon timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Lions scored their fourth consecutive point to tie the match at 24. Needing to win by two, back-to-back kills by Lindsey Vander Weide and Agost won the set for the Ducks, 28-26.
“We have so many weapons back there, they just have to remember how good they are and sometimes they forget and that’s really frustrating for the coach,” Ulmer said.
It was another close battle in the third set. Trailing by two, coach Ulmer called a timeout and Oregon responded, tying the set at 23. The teams split points, and for the second set in a row they were tied at 24.
Two straight errors by the Ducks led to two straight Lions points and the Ducks lost the set 26-24.
The Ducks wrap up the Oregon Classic with a 12 p.m. match Saturday against Northern Illinois at Matthew Knight Arena.
Follow Zak Laster on Twitter: @zlast3445