#Pac12Volleyball: Ducks Lose To Huskies At MKA

EUGENE — No. 7 Washington took an early lead in all three games Friday and No. 20 Oregon was unable to rally back, losing 25-21, 25-19, 25-13 to the Huskies in Matthew Knight Arena.

The Ducks (8-3) lost for the first time since Jan. 29, and saw their single-season program-record win streak of seven straight conference matches snapped. Slow starts doomed the Ducks on Friday.

“I think I called a timeout at 3-7 in all three sets; I should have not done it one time, to see if it would be any different,” UO coach Matt Ulmer said. “They just put a lot of pressure on us that we didn’t handle very well. We have to be more mature and understand the situation, and manage our game better.”

How It Happened: Playing for the second weekend in a row without mainstay Taylor Borup due to COVID-19 protocols, the Ducks felt her absence Friday. Oregon struggled with serve receive during an early stretch in game one that saw UW turn a 3-3 tie into an 8-3 lead. The Huskies led 13-8 when a Karson Bacon kill and a UW error got Oregon within three, and Bacon scored again to make it 14-12.

But Washington scored three times in a row to open up the lead again. Kills by Brooke Nuneviller and Taylor Williams cut the lead to 22-19 late in the game, but UW eventually finished it off, 25-21.

The Ducks made a formation adjustment in game two, and Georgia Murphy helped shore up their serve receive. After a four-point UW run made it 5-2, the teams went back and forth the rest of the game. But though Oregon served well throughout the match and tightened up the serve receive in game two, Washington’s Pac-12 leading offense remained efficient and UW won game two, 25-19.
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“I think we out-serve-and-passed them,” Ulmer said. “But it almost doesn’t matter, the way that they play. … They don’t need that perfect pass, that perfect dig. It’s so hard to get them out of rhythm.”

That proved to be even more true in game three, as UW hit .516 to complete the sweep. After the Huskies took an 8-3 lead, kills by Gloria Mutiri and Bacon stabilized the Ducks. But the Huskies put together another extended run to turn a 12-9 lead into a 17-9 lead. That was too big of a hole for the home team and UW won the game and the match, 25-13.

Notable: Each of Oregon’s previous two losses on the season was followed by a bounce-back win two days later over the same opponent, something the Ducks have a chance to do again. … Nuneviller’s 11 digs gave her 1,159 in her career, moving her past LaReina Woods (1,149, 1991-94) and into 10th on the UO career list. … Nuneviller also led the Ducks on Friday with 12 kills, for her 10th double-double in 11 matches this season. … Nuneviller is now averaging 3.10 kills and 3.86 digs per set on the season. … Bacon has 25 kills and is hitting .455 over the last three matches. … This is just the second time all year that Oregon was out-blocked by its opponent – both of those instances coming in losses.

Up Next: The Ducks host the Huskies again Sunday at 1 p.m.