The No. 20 Oregon Ducks knew that hosting the No. 8 Washington Huskies would be no easy test, and the visitors from Seattle proved that point.
Washington took control early on in the match, but Oregon did not have any plans to let its rivals take an easy route to a win. The Huskies, a strong serving team, made life difficult for the Ducks defensively.
“When you’re on your heels and trying to be safe and trying to be careful then everything goes wrong,” head coach Jim Moore said.
The first set saw the Ducks constantly trailing the Huskies making only a few errors while Oregon had a low hitting percentage of .171 in the 25-20 opening set loss. Oregon had not dropped a set at home since the opening two matches against then-ranked No. 2 Texas and No. 10 Florida.
The second set brought a similarity to that of the first set, but the Ducks showed more of a fight after a slow start that was ridiculed with serving errors.
“Tonight we were way out of sync serving,” Moore said. “I changed it during the second set and told them to be as aggressive as they can.”
Oregon got within one point of Washington, but could not overtake the away side. The Huskies eventually ran away with the set, winning it 25-18 to take a 2-0 lead going into intermission. Oregon was hitting at only .121 percent in the second set along with six errors.
“I don’t know if we came out nervous on the serve,” Lindsey Vander Weide said. “Normally were not like that.”
The Ducks needed a response in the third set. Oregon kept pace with Washington for the first dozen points with the teams trading points one after the other early on.
The Huskies pulled away in the third set at the same point in the set that they did in the first two sets, but the Ducks rallied back to bring the match to 17-16. Washington took timeouts in the first two sets in nearly identical situations, and following the timeouts, the Huskies broke away. This was not the case in the third set though.
Oregon tied it up at 17, but a service error from Lindsey Vander Weide gifted the Huskies a lead which they let slip. Oregon tied the set at 19 after a call was overturned in favor of the Ducks. After kills by Vander Weide, and freshmen Willow Johnson and Jolie Rasmussen, Oregon led 22-20.
Washington did not count itself out and rallied back to win the third set 25-23 and ultimately the match.
Oregon plays again on Sunday against No. 10 Washington State as the Ducks look to get back to their winning ways.
“We need to bounce back quick,” Vander Weide said. “We have a day of practice tomorrow and we need to play Washington State a lot better than that.”
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow