The Oregon Ducks (13-2, 3-1 Pac-12) were defeated by the Washington State Cougars (14-1, 4-0 Pac-12) in four sets at MKA, 14-25, 25-20, 27-29, 23-25.
Head coach Matt Ulmer said well before the first serve that this matchup between the Ducks and the Cougars was going to be difficult, because it always is between these two very good teams.
The Ducks lost this match on a series of mistakes that they can’t get away with against the top teams in the nation. In set one, Oregon started out with the same serve/receive errors that plagued them in set one against Oregon State and Washington, and the Cougars made them pay with a 10-0 run before the Ducks could score a point.
The Ducks were never going to be competitive in the first set and looked to the second set to get back in their game. Oregon corrected some of their attack error issues and pulled to a 13-7 lead.
The Cougars were tough to keep down all match and pulled within three at 22-19. The Ducks buckled down and a kill from Karson Bacon evened the match at 1-1.
In the third set, Wazzu immediately jumped in the lead with a 3-0 run. The Ducks closed, but were behind for most of the set. Being down 10-15, Oregon embarked upon a 4-0 run, and then another 4-0 run later to take the lead, 20-19.
Oregon had three set points and could not convert, losing set 3.
It was more of the same in the fourth set, with the Ducks leading for most of the set, only to have WSU claw back to take the set and match. With Oregon ahead 23-19, the Cougars used a 6-0 run to wrest the victory from the Ducks and take the match.
Another look at that match point! Cougs finish with 9 aces as a team- anyone more clutch serving with the match on the line @jagreeny @burdettegreeny @shannonhunt07?#GoCougs #CVE23 pic.twitter.com/vre80ITDdl— Washington State Volleyball (@WSUCougarsVB) October 1, 2023
Oregon had critical errors in the wrong places, and that’s why their 20-game MKA win streak ended today. The glaring team difference was Oregon hitting .110 to .164 for Wazzu (underscoring the defensive nature of this match), and committing 38 attack errors to 27 for WSU.
Morgan Lewis ended with 13 kills, while Karson Bacon and Gabby Gonzales each contributed 11. Mimi Colyer finished with a double-double of 10 kills and 10 digs.
Hannah Pukis also scored a double-double with 42 assists and 15 digs. Georgia Murphy had 13 digs.
After the game, coach Matt Ulmer noted that “For us, what this taught us is hopefully a lot. There’s a lot of things that we’re gonna have to get better at if we want to achieve our goals that we want to achieve.”
That they will. It’s still early in the Pac-12 season, and this is still a very good top-10 team - even if they have some bugs to work out.
Here were Matt Ulmer and Karson Bacon’s remarks after the match:
Oregon volleyball next heads to the Mountain schools, with matches against Colorado on Friday and Utah on Sunday.