Ducks come up short at UW
SEATTLE — One place separated them in the national rankings.
And, in the end on Wednesday night, two points separated them.
Washington, ranked 14th, edged 15th-ranked Oregon, 20-25, 25-19, 25-21, 24-26, 15-13 in a back-and-forth battle at Alaska Airlines Arena.
The Ducks out-hit the Huskies, .257-.219, and rallied from deficits of 0-4 and 8-3 in the fifth set to pull even at 12-12, but couldn't hold off UW's final surge.
Washington saved some of its best for last, hitting .360 in the fifth set.
"It's great to win a rivalry game and great to win it in dramatic fashion," Huskies coach Keegan Cook said.
"It was a great match," Oregon coach Matt Ulmer said.
Oregon was playing for just the third time with a new lineup, and while the set-up was productive, a few mistakes in communication and execution proved costly.
"Some ineperience things that crept in there," Ulmer said.
But overall, it was a solid road effort against the team picked to win the Pac-12 title by many — especially given how the Ducks bounced back in the fourth set, then refused to buckle in the fifth.
"We go in and out of our game plan, which is frustrating," Ulmer said, "but for the most part, I was really proud of our fight. We played a great game. Just about every statistical category we beat them in. We put ourselves to be great or attempt to win, we just didn't come through at the end.
"It was one of those matches you should win and you don't."
UO senior Taylor Agost, from Clackamas High, shined with a match- and career-high 19 kills, along with a career high-tying 11 digs and five blocks. She hit .277.
"Taylor was wonderful all night," Ulmer said.
Washington All-American Courtney Schwann hit .255, posting 15 kills along with teammate Crissy Jones, who hit .333.
Willow Johnson, an Oregon sophomore, had 11 kills (.250). Junior Lindsey Vander Weide (.111), sophomore Ronika Stone (.250) and junior middle blocker Lauren Page (.444) all had nine kills. Page also had her season high in blocks with eight.
Oregon setters Maggie Scott (career-high 30 assists) and August Raskie (20) played well, also chipping in with 10 and a career-high 16 digs, respectively.
"Our setters did a great job all night, made nice decisions," Ulmer said.
Alex Hojnar had 20 digs for the Ducks; Vander Weide had 13.
Twelve service errors didn't help the Oregon cause; the Ducks had six aces, two each by Agost and Raskie. Washington made only three service errors.
"We missed some serves that aren't my favorite, but overall we kept pressure on them," Ulmer said. "It was a really good match for us. We did a lot of nice things. If that's how we can play consistently and continue to execute as we get more comfortable together in this lineup, I think we're going to do really well."
Oregon fell to 10-5, 3-4 Pac-12 before the UW crowd of 2,536, while Washington improved to 15-3, 5-2.
Oregon's next match is 6 p.m. Friday at Washington State (13-5, 2-4).
"Pullman is a really big match for us," Ulmer said. "They're a big, physical blocking team like these guys, except even bigger, and they're really tough in their gym.
"We need to get another road win and keep positive momentum going into next week against the Arizonas."