Coming off a road win against Oregon State, the Ducks looked to upset the undefeated Huskies in Eugene, Friday night. Oregon found themselves falling behind early and ultimately unable to overcome their mistakes as they fell to Washington 25-23, 25-19, 29-31, 25-8. The Huskies improved to 10-0 on the season and 2-0 in the conference as Oregon suffered their first conference loss albeit against the #2 team in the nation. The Huskies were strong at the net totaling 21 blocks to Oregon's 4 and frustrated the Ducks into a .121 hitting percentage for the match.
The first set seemed to be a game of runs to see who would come out on top. Washington would push out to a lead just for Oregon to come back and get within one or two. The same issues which have seemed to plague Oregon so far this season seemed to repeat themselves in the first set against the Huskies. It was fitting that the Ducks started and finished the set with a service error, dropping the first set 25-23 to Washington. The Ducks got down early and were never able to take the lead despite tying the score twice at 10 and 11. In losing the first set, coach Jim Moore pointed to Oregon's errors.
"We gave them 11 points in game one," said Moore, "and obviously [if] you don't give them 11 and you lose 25-23. I was excited after the first two."
The second set started much the same as the first, appearing to be much of a carbon copy of the first, Oregon tying the match at 10 after being down 5-1, but unlike the see saw action of the first set, the Huskies would take control of the match, going on a 9-3 run and never leading by less than 4 down the stretch as Washington took the second set leading 2-0, going into the intermission. The Huskies upped their attack from .135 in the first set to hitting at .344 while only committing a single attack error en route to pulling away.
Oregon came out of the break, appearing much more ready to compete as they didn't get into a hole early and maintained with the Huskies. Oregon led most of the way until Washington found their way back into the set on a couple of occasions, briefly taking the lead at 22-21. From there on it was a nip and tuck affair which would see extra points and momentum swings before Oregon finally took the marathon third set 31-29 on a kill by Martenne Bettendorf, igniting the crowd and giving Oregon a win in the third set.
The comeback was not to be though as Oregon got blown out of the fourth set, committing several mental errors and hitting straight into the UW block. After the Ducks got within 1 at 6-5 the Huskies would take off on a 19-3 scoring run, winning the fourth going away to end the match. Jim Moore commented, "That was real disappointing to turn around after being really focused in game 3 and just not be there."
Despite the loss, Coach Moore was optimistic, "If that's the second ranked team in the country, for the first three sets we were right there. As I said before, I'd rather be going up than hang on for dear life like we did last year."
Oregon now goes on the road to face the Arizona schools and will look to rebound from what should be an encouraging loss. Moral victories count for very little but Oregon played well through the first three against a national contender and they appear to be improving each match, just like Coach Moore wants.