This weekend, the No. 20 Oregon Ducks proved that while they might have been lucky, they were definitely not chicken, showing guts and courage as they took down the top-ranked Bruins in five sets.
On their last road trip of the regular season, the No. 1 Bruins (23-4, 16-3 Pac-12) lost their top spot in the national rankings as well as the Pac-12.
“We won the first set, and then we were up 23-14 in the second set, and then we took a little nap,” coach Mike Sealy said. “Since that lead, they outscored us 9-2 in the second set.
“By letting them almost come back and win the second set, we really fired them up. Even though on paper it looks like five sets, they absolutely destroyed us.”
Junior outside hitter Rachael Kidder had 15 kills and 10 digs against Oregon. Even though she admitted something went wrong for the Bruins, she credited Oregon for playing a great game.
“The whole season we played teams that play incredibly against us,” Kidder said. “So I think they had one of those best matches. They stole all the momentum from us and we weren’t able to get it back.”
After such a tough loss, the Bruins had a lot to make up for. They found new drive against Oregon State (14-14, 6-12) and beat them in four sets on Saturday.
“After the Oregon game, we knew we had to refocus, learn from it and walk away knowing what we did wrong and what we did right and just move onto Oregon State the next day,” senior libero Lainey Gera said.
Gera had 23 digs against Oregon and added 21 more against Oregon State. Kidder also added 18 kills and 11 digs for a another double-double.
Though the weekend cost the Bruins that coveted No. 1 spot in the Pac-12, they are still one of the top teams in the conference. And at this point, they look forward to the tournament.
“It was a great weekend for us,” Sealy said. “Regardless of the win-loss … I’m thankful for Oregon. They played us as tough or tougher than anyone in the country has. And next time we run into a tough match, we’re going to be able to go back to the lessons we learned in that match. It’s all preparation for the NCAA tournament.”
The Bruins have three more regular-season games at home before the tournament and hope to bring the fire ignited by this weekend back to Westwood.