After defeating Miami 3-1 the night before, Oregon saw its 21-9 season come to an end at the hands of No. 17 Michigan by the same score on Friday during the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Previously, the Ducks were 20-0 when leading in hitting percentage. This meant that to ensure their victory, they would have had to hit well. Oregon was ranked 15th nationally in the category.
However, Michigan is an aggressively offensive team, and Oregon wasn’t able to counteract that defensively. The Ducks only tallied nine blocks, led by Kacy Nady with five total, while Michigan tallied 15, efficiently shutting down Oregon’s leading offensive contributor Lindsey Vander Weide.
Oregon’s deep field of hitters, particularly Ronika Stone and Taylor Agost, who led the team in kills with 17 and 10 respectively, couldn’t make up for her lack of contribution. Vander Weide was kept at a .069 percentage with eight kills, far from her usual standard.
During the first set, uncharacteristic mistakes by the Ducks cost them valuable points. Twice they gave up points because of net violations. Late in the set, Lauren Page had the opportunity to put down an easy kill, but gave up an error instead. Though the Ducks only tallied two service errors, the two aces that they did serve were made from mistakes committed by the Wolverines.
With the score 22-19 in favor of the Ducks, Michigan scored two points in a row. Fearing that the momentum had shifted back to the Wolverines, coach Jim Moore called a timeout. Moore had no reason to fear as the Ducks pulled out a 25-23 win.
But after that, there was little celebration by Oregon. Though technically Michigan wasn’t playing in its home arena, the crowd was distinctly blue. Before the game, Michigan was 16-2 at home. Those two loses came from Nebraska and Wisconsin, the second and third ranked team nationally.
After the first set, Oregon shut down the crowd. But that changed in the second set.
The teams were tied at three at the beginning of the set, but it would be the last time they would be for the rest of the set. After that, it was all Michigan.
To break the tie, Michigan went on a five-point streak. Though Rasmussen broke up the streak with a kill, the Wolverines simply continued on another streak, this one for four points to take an early 8-3 lead. They never relinquished that lead and easily won the set 25-17.
Oregon needed to win the third set. If not, the Ducks would be forced to win two sets in a row to keep their season alive.
With an important 22-20 lead, Oregon needed to show urgency to finish the set. After giving up two kills to Kelly Murphy and Claire Kieffer-Wright, Moore called a timeout.
Though the timeout worked in a way as Stone put down a kill of her own, it did little to switch momentum solely back to the Ducks. Kieffer-Wright, who finished the game with team-leading 20 kills with a .720 percentage, tallied two kills to give Michigan the match point.
To give themselves a 2-1 lead going into the fourth set, the Wolverines’ block came up huge as Carly Skjodt blocked a potential kill from Jolie Rasmussen.
Knowing they had to come out strong in what turned out to be their final set of the season, the Ducks started with a four-point run. But with a 6-2 lead, Oregon began watching its Sweet 16 hopes diminish. Michigan went on a streak of its own, yielding six points.
Though the Ducks kept themselves in the game, Michigan was able to keep them at bay. To finish out the match, the Wolverines went on a four-point run with kills from Abby Cole and Ally Davis and two service aces, both from Skjodt, Carly.
Oregon finishes the season 21-10.
Follow Hannah Bonnie on Twitter @hbonnie03