The first two days of the inaugural Pac-12 beach volleyball championships weren’t kind to the Oregon Ducks.
During the opening day on Thursday, the Ducks dropped both pairs matches. Then on Friday, Oregon lost to top-ranked USC, 5-0.
“This is a great event. Obviously with our results yesterday and this afternoon, we’re not real happy with that,” head coach Stacy Metro said in a phone interview. “Knowing where we are as a program and playing at an unusual time, we have to take that in stride.
“I’ve been happy with our attitude and effort.”
In pairs play, Oregon’s No. 12-seeded Liz Brenner and Kacey Nady went against USC’s duo of Sophie Bukovec and Alexa Strange, the five-seeds. Oregon’s pair found itself in an early 8-3 hole. USC then won 21-11. In the second set, Oregon failed to get an early jump, trailing 9-2, then 14-7. That concluded in a 21-14 loss.
Martenne Bettendorf and Lindsey Vander Weide went second for the Ducks. The Oregon duo, playing as the No. 15 seed, went against the No. 2 seed in Arizona’s Madison Witt and McKenna Witt, who own a 17-1 record this year.
The Wildcat duo led 14-7 in the first set. Bettendorf and Vander Weide rallied back, but fell 21-15. In the second set, Witt and Witt led 5-2 and then 15-10, leading to a 21-15 Arizona win.
“The effort was there, but we were seeded low and they were seeded high,” Metro said. “That’s kind of how it ends up. I liked our effort for sure, but we didn’t execute well enough to upset those teams.”
Oregon came back for pairs competition on Friday afternoon, going against USC, which is ranked No. 1 nationally.
Metro was impressed with Oregon’s No. 3 pair of Taylor Agost and Amanda Benson, who pushed it to three sets against USC.
“This is the best Taylor has done at pulling and digging at the same time,” Metro said.
The Trojans, however, dominated all-around, allowing just one matchup to advance to the third set.
“They’re really frustrated,” Metro said. “I tell them that I’m really happy with the plays that they’re making, but they’re frustrated because they’re not winning. I am seeing improvement, so I’m pleased with that.”
No. 1 USC 5, Oregon 0
1 Sara Hughes/Kelly Claes (USC) def. Kacey Nady/Liz Brenner (UO) 21-8, 21-12
2 Sophie Bukovec/Alexa Strange (USC) def. Martenne Bettendorf/Lindsey Vander Weide (UO) 21-12, 21-13
3 Nicolette Martin/Allie Wheeler (USC) def. Taylor Agost/Amanda Benson (UO) 21-11, 19-21, 15-9
4 Abril Bustamante/Jenna Belton (USC) def. Lauren Page/Maddy Silberger-Franek (UO) 21-9, 21-19
5 Jo Kremer/Zoe Nightingale (USC) def. August Raskie/Haley McLaren (UO) 21-14, 21-11
Order of finish: 5, 4, 1, 2, 3
Oregon will now play again on Saturday in the contender’s bracket at 9 a.m. versus No. 5-ranked Arizona State.
Follow Jonathan Hawthorne on Twitter @Jon_Hawthorne