Oregon’s remarkable season and the illustrious careers of some of its top players concluded on Saturday with a four-set defeat to host Wisconsin in the Elite Eight of the NCAA volleyball tournament.
The Ducks, boasting a 29-6 record, achieved an unprecedented feat by reaching the regional finals in consecutive years. Despite winning the third set on Saturday, they ultimately fell short with scores of 25-22, 25-22, 25-27, 25-18. Mimi Colyer, with 20 kills, surpassed 1,000 career kills in the match, showcasing her prowess from the back row for the second time in three days. Morgan Lewis contributed 11 kills, and Hannah Pukis nearly recorded a triple-double with nine kills, 49 assists, and 13 digs. However, Oregon struggled against Wisconsin’s formidable block, hitting .207 as the Badgers tallied 16 blocks in the match.
Notable performances included Gabby Gonzales, Kara McGhee, and Karson Bacon, each contributing eight kills. Colyer was the lone non-senior to record a kill for the Ducks. Bacon, in her third Elite Eight appearance with Oregon, joined fellow seniors Lewis and Pukis, as well as Georgia Murphy and Elise Ferreira, in making their second consecutive regional finals appearance.
In her final appearance for Oregon, Murphy contributed 15 digs, while the back-row tandem of Daley McClellan and Ferreira combined for four service aces and 18 digs.
The match unfolded with Bacon providing consecutive kills in the opening moments, briefly giving the Ducks a 3-2 lead in the first set. However, Wisconsin seized control, leading to a 25-22 victory in the first set. The subsequent sets saw Oregon battle fiercely, with standout moments from Colyer, Lewis, and Pukis, but Wisconsin ultimately secured the win in four sets.
The fourth set witnessed a back-and-forth struggle, but Wisconsin’s seven-point streak proved decisive. Although Oregon made valiant efforts to close the gap, the Badgers maintained their advantage and secured victory on their third match point attempt.