In a close back-and-forth contest, the Oregon volleyball team (14-6, 7-4) was defeated by the Arizona Wildcats (14-9, 6-5) in five sets at Matthew Knight Arena Friday night.
The Ducks, coming off consecutive road wins against Utah and Colorado, fell flat against an Arizona team that snapped a three-game losing streak. A weekend sweep for the Ducks would have put them in a tie for first place.
In the deciding fifth set, the Ducks were tied at 4 when it appeared the Ducks had taken a 5-4 lead. However, a replay review ruled in favor of the Wildcats. That sparked a 7-1 Arizona run for to take control in the first-to-15 fifth set.
“It changed us; it took everything out of us,” head coach Jim Moore said.
Oregon began set one controlling the match, jumping to a 7-3 lead and forcing an Arizona timeout. Arizona used the timeout to pull within two and force a 13-13 tie. Two straight points led Moore to use a timeout. The Ducks responded well out of the timeout, outscoring the Wildcats to tie the match at 16, but a 4-1 run by the Wildcats forced another Oregon timeout. Arizona scored its 24th point and looked to close out the set up two points, but two straight forced a tie at 24 and a Wildcat timeout. Both teams exchanged points before two straight Arizona points won the set for the visitors.
“We need to learn how to ride our momentum all the way through,” freshman outside hitter Jolie Rasmussen said.
Oregon and Arizona played a close second set to start, but with the Ducks leading 6-5, they went on a 8-2 run to take control of the match. The Ducks were up by as many nine points, winning the set 25-17.
The Ducks led set three by 12, with a 22-10 lead, but the Wildcats responded with six straight points and Oregon needed a timeout. Out of the timeout, Arizona continued to fight back into the set and Oregon called a timeout up 23-20. The Ducks won the third set 25-21 to take a what they thought would be a commanding 2-1 lead in the match.
“We should never our momentum fall,” Rasmussen said. “That’s when the other team can just run with it and take it.”
Arizona dominated the start of set four, taking a 9-2 lead. The Ducks tried to get things turned around, calling their second timeout of the set. It didn’t help as the Wildcats pushed their lead to 17-6. Three straight points for the Ducks led to an Arizona timeout. The Wildcats outscored the Ducks 8-4 to win set four and force the winner-take-all set five.
“We need to be consistent, (not) just from match to match but throughout the match,” Moore said.
Rasmussen, Lindsey Vander Weide and Taylor Agost led the team with 13 kills each. Amanda Benson had 21 digs and Maggie Scott let the team with 26 assists.
Oregon takes on Arizona State on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Matthew Knight Arena.
Follow Zak Laster on Twitter @zlast3445