Oregon didn’t just lose to Arizona State on Sunday in a Pac-12 volleyball match at Matthew Knight Arena, the Ducks put on a performance that had their coach reaching for ways to fully describe the ineptitude exhibited by what had been the nation’s 12th-ranked team as the Sun Devils (12-4 overall, 3-1 in the Pac-12) swept to a 25-23, 25-22 and 25-22 victory.
“It was rough. Pretty much everything was rough,” UO coach Matt Ulmer summarized of the performance by the Ducks in front of a turnout of 1,614. “I thought we were out of control emotionally, all of a sudden we forget our jobs, we were really undisciplined ... those things are contagious.
“Arizona State did a nice job but this is all about us. There is some doubting going on.”
With good reason.
The first two sets each ended with an Oregon player hitting the volleyball into the net attempting to attack. The Ducks (9-5 overall, 2-2 in the Pac-12) put five serves into the net in the first set alone. There were issues with Oregon’s passing, setting and hitting, and what else is there?
“This was the worst of it,” Ulmer said of Oregon’s play. “That’s how bad we can be. I think we saw our low.”
This defeat came on the heels of a five-set loss to 22nd-ranked Arizona on Friday, and after each loss an exasperated Ulmer spoke with the media about the possibility of playing freshmen who haven’t been in a match this season and were ticketed for a redshirt season to save a year of eligibility. Now that’s in doubt even with regular season at its midpoint.
And if those currently redshirting players do get on the court, it will likely be at the expense of playing time for seniors, Ulmer made clear.
“It’s the ultimate team sport and I felt like half of the team was not into it,” Ulmer said.
Ronika Stone statistically led the offense with 13 kills and Lindsey Vander Weide added 11 with 11 digs for her seventh double-double of the season. Sophomore transfer Taylor Borup was termed “a positive” in her most extensive action of the Pac-12 season with six kills and a service ace but there wasn’t much else to tout.
August Raskie also had a double-double with 37 assists and 13 digs, but Ulmer expressed great disappointment with his senior setter’s overall play.
“I don’t know where August was,” Ulmer said. “It’s hard when your quarterback is not into the game.”
The win for ASU continues an amazing turnaround for the Sun Devils, who were 0-20 in the Pac-12 last season and had lost their previous six matches to Oregon. Ivana Jeremic, a junior from Serbia, recorded 16 kills for ASU and Alyse Ford, who transferred from USC for her senior season, added nine kills in the balanced attack of ASU.
Oregon led much of the third set in attempting to extend the match but at 19-all, the Ducks first appeared to retake the lead on Johnson’s kill off an ASU block before a video review reversed the point on a ruling it wasn’t touched by the Sun Devils before going out of bounds. The Sun Devils thus continued a streak of six consecutive points for a 23-19 lead Oregon couldn’t overcome.
“When you get into these (poor performances), the breaks don’t go your way,” Ulmer said. “You can’t have things go against you when you’re not playing well.”
The turnaround for Oregon, if there is one, best come quickly. Four consecutive road matches begin with a pair of top 20 opponents in UCLA on Friday and USC next Sunday.
“We’ll have to see what we do from here,” Ulmer said.