Oregon State played its final volleyball match of the season on Friday with passion and competitiveness, taking the first set from No. 19 Oregon at Gill Coliseum.
But the Ducks showed superior talent and depth and won the next three sets to hand OSU a 3-1 Pac-12 loss in the Civil War.
Set scores were 23-25, 25-19, 25-13, 25-18.
The Beavers (12-19, 5-15) entered the match on a high note after edging California 3-2 on the road Wednesday on the strength of Mary-Kate Marshall's double-double. The 6-foot-1 outside hitter had 20 kills and 13 digs.
Oregon (20-9, 13-7), meanwhile, was swept in its match at Stanford and was still playing for seeding implication in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
On Friday, the emotions of a Civil War match combined with senior night seemed to act as fuel for the Beavers in the match.
Tied at 9-all in the first set, the Beavers put together a 6-2 run leading to a Ducks timeout. Oregon responded and tied the set at 15-all, and the teams traded points until Lanesha Reagan delivered a kill to give the Beavers the 25-23 set win.
Senior Lila Toner had six kills in the set. She said the rivalry helped motivate the Beavers in the first set.
“We got pumped up and prepared ourselves more than other games,” Toner said. “All the emotion that comes up in the game is different than other games. … When I first got to OSU, I learned that Oregon is our enemy. We were pumped up right at the start”
Marshall echoed her teammate’s thoughts on the beginning of the match.
“We played with our emotions in the first set,” Marshall said. “We had our senior night celebration and everyone was ready to go out and just kick their butts. We just weren’t able to maintain it.”
Coach Mark Barnard pointed out that it took more than just emotion for his team to take that first set.
“In the first set we made them work a lot harder for them to score," he said. "We passed really well and we attacked them and kept them out of system.”
But the Beavers could not keep the momentum and the Ducks picked up the season sweep by winning the next three sets.
“In sets two, three and four our passing broke down," Barnard said. "Passing is an interesting skill. When it breaks down it effects everything else. It shouldn’t, but it does. It has that mental effect. … It creates just a little bit more tentative approach.”
Setter McKenna Hollingsworth had compliments for the Ducks, but still saw the Beavers mistakes as costing her team the match.
“Oregon’s a great team. They have great players, great coaches and great everything,” she said. “But I really think that volleyball comes down to serving and passing. We started serving out at bad times, we were missing passes and we could never get back into it.”
Hollingsworth reflected on the progress of the team throughout the season.
“I think we made so many improvements as a whole,” she said. “Though we haven’t won on the scoreboard necessarily as much as would have liked, we’ve made improvements that are going to show up next year. The seniors, specifically, have helped us up so much that next year we’re going to be more successful because of their hard work and how they taught us how to play. … I’m just excited to get into the off-season and doing the hard work to get better.”
Barnard had nothing but compliments for the five seniors who played their final match on Friday.
“The thing you don’t see is how much they (the seniors) not only on the court but off the court as well,” he said. “They are great role models for the younger players.
The coach looked ahead to next year’s team.
“Mary-Kate and Lanesha are coming back as outsides, Kory (Cheshire) in the middle. The 2017 class is here this weekend on official visit. We’ve got two out of there that will be pushing for spots. And we’ll have another year of experience with a few of these guys as well.”
Marshall had 14 kills, 14 digs and two solo blocks in the match while Reagan chipped in with five digs and a serving ace. Cheshire had a solo block and five kills while Toner made 13 kills total. Hollingsworth led the team with 28 assists, three digs, a solo block and a serving ace.