All season, the question for Oregon Volleyball has been if they are truly a National Championship threat.
There was, of course, a reason for this. Last season they went 26-6 and advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
Star Outside Hitter Mimi Colyer hasn’t lost a step, and next to her, Oregon is loaded with veteran upperclassmen key players. Morgan Lewis, Kara McGhee, and Georgia Murphy are all Seniors. Hannah Pukis is a Redshirt Senior, and Daley McClellan is a Junior.
The Ducks exploded out of the gates, winning their first 13 straight, and by the end of September they were 20-1 with the lone loss coming against Top 10 Minnesota.
At that point there was little doubt this squad had a shot at winning it all.
Then they inexplicably dropped a home game to Washington State in four sets.
It was confusing, and frustrating, but they reeled off another three wins in a row to set themselves up (pun intended) nicely heading into games against nationally ranked conference foes Arizona State and Stanford.
Each weekend was a similar story. Against the unranked opponents, Oregon was dominant, sweeping each. Against the ranked opponents, they looked somewhat overmatched.
The Sun Devils swept Oregon, and only the first set was close. Against Stanford, the Ducks managed to win a set, and kept their loses very close, but it seemed as though they were constantly battling from behind. The Cardinal usually seemed to have control.
So here we are, Oregon still has a slew of games left to play, including visiting Tempe and Palo Alto. But what can we reasonably expect?
If we’re still thinking National Title contender, there should be no doubt that Oregon will avenge each loss by winning at their opponents gyms.
That’s what title-contending teams do.
If we’re expecting a similar result as before, where they take care of their unranked opponents but fall to the powerhouses, we may have to adjust our expectations.
“Ahh, they lost, but it was to powerful teams”.
No. Not gonna cut it if we’re thinking about competing nationally.
If last year was a pleasant surprise and Oregon is one of those teams that earns a Tournament spot but isn’t really considered a threat to win it all, we’re going to find out soon.
If they really are a team capable of going all the way, we’re also going to find that out soon.
They have their first shot at revenge this weekend. That will tell us something.
But the month of November…that’s a different story.
Contenders or Pretenders? Stay tuned.