With two matches left in the season, No. 20 Oregon volleyball is heading in the wrong direction. The Ducks were swept by No. 10 Washington Huskies on Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena for their third straight loss.
“You’re going to take losses in our conference — that happens,” head coach Matt Ulmer said. “We just didn’t execute enough down the stretch. We have to step up, we have to make plays when the pressure’s on. It’s very frustrating for us as a team, and to an individual, that we’re not doing the things we need to do in crunch time.”
With the loss, the Ducks fall to 16-10 overall and 9-9 in the Pac-12.
In the third set, needing a win to extend the match, the Ducks scored 8-of-10 to open with an 8-4 lead before Washington slowly began creeping back. The Huskies battled back into the game to tie the set at 19.
Oregon led 22-20, but the Huskies scored three straight to take a one point lead. A kill by Lindsey Vander Weide and an ace by Taylor Agost put the Ducks one point from extending the match. On set point, Agost served it into the net and the Huskies responded with back-to-back points to win the match.
“I thought we did what we needed to do to put ourselves in a position to be successful,” Ulmer said. “So, it’s always frustrating when you get there and you don’t make the plays down the stretch.”
The first set started with the Huskies scoring 4-of-6 before Oregon went on a run of six-straight to take an 8-4 lead and force a Huskies timeout. Later, Oregon tied the match at 19 with a kill by Jolie Rasmussen. After a Washington error gave the Ducks the lead, the Huskies put the Ducks away with five-of-six points to win 25-22.
“I thought this was the best attitude we’ve had playing in a long time, maybe since Utah,” Ulmer said. “I thought we were really in it and really engaged. We just didn’t hit as well as we normally do.”
The Ducks swung at just .185 in the match and Agost led the team with 11 kills. Ronika Stone and Vander Weide added seven kills each.
In the second set, the Ducks opened with two straight points before the game turned in Washington’s favor. The Huskies scored 7-of-8 points to take a 7-3 lead and later a run of five-straight points gave the Huskies some separation over the Ducks with a 15-7 lead.
Oregon responded out of a timeout with five-of six to pull within four and force the Huskies to use a timeout to stop the run. It worked as the Huskies answered with a 5-1 run to regain control of the set at 21-13.
Washington needed just one point to win the set, but the Ducks made the Huskies earn it, scoring three-straight to pull within five. However, out of a timeout, a kill by Lauren Sanders gave the Huskies the 25-19 set victory.
Next up for the Ducks is senior day at Matthew Knight Arena at 2 p.m. on Wednesday against the USC Trojans.
Follow Zak Laster on Twitter @zlast3445