The 2019 Pac-12 volleyball opener ended in thrilling fashion Thursday night, with Oregon State edging No. 24 Oregon in a five-set contest at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
The Ducks got off to a hot start powered by senior right-side hitter Willow Johnson in the first set, jumping out to a 21-9 lead. Johnson had 6 kills and a .667 hitting percentage, and was a big part of the 12-2 run that put the set out of reach; Oregon eventually won 25-9.
The second set was a different story, as Oregon State bounced back to take a 10-5 lead. However, the Ducks showed resilience by bringing the game within one point, at 14-13. Oregon fell behind again shortly after the comeback, with the Beavers going on a 4-0 run to solidify its lead and eventually win the set 25-19.
With the match tied 1-1, things started to heat up, and the third set started off in a 10-10 gridlock. Oregon was able to break the tie and pull ahead later in the set, as sophomore Brooke Nuneviller led the pack with 12 kills, and Willow Johnson followed with 11. The set finished in a 25-20 Oregon win, giving the Ducks a 2-1 match advantage.
The back and forth feel of the match continued in the fourth set. The Beavers took a lead and protected it well, and Oregon couldn’t muster enough offense to close out the game. After a 25-18 OSU win knotted the match at two sets apiece, the fifth and deciding set was the closest of the night. With Oregon leading 13-11 and on the brink of victory, Oregon State scored four straight to take the fifth set.
Despite dropping a conference battle against the rival Beavers, the Ducks had several bright spots, including explosive play from senior Ronika Stone and impressive production from Nuneviller.
Oregon continues conference play in Matthew Knight Arena when it faces Utah on September 29.