Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
In its third game of the season, the Ohio State women’s volleyball team suffered its first loss of the year Saturday against the No. 20 Oregon Ducks, 3-2.
The No. 24-ranked Buckeyes opened up the Sports Imports DC Koehl Classic at St. John Arena with back-to-back wins against Houston and Toledo, 3-0.
OSU, though, could not extend its winning streak to three as the Ducks outlasted the Buckeyes down the stretch Saturday. Playing its third game in two days, it appeared that fatigue and endurance were factors in the loss.
“We came out with a lot of energy and played our game in the first couple of games,” said senior setter Amanda Peterson. “After we came out of the locker room for the third game, we kind of lost a little bit of energy at the beginning.”
During the first two sets, the Buckeyes dominated early on the floor by winning both sets.
As the game continued, however, the Buckeyes had several chances to close out on match points, but could not finish the game on a strong note.
Senior outside hitter Emily Danks, who is an American Volleyball Coaches Association honorable mention All-American selection, tried to stay positive in the team’s first loss of the season.
“The beauty of playing such tough competition at the beginning of the season is that it prepares us for the best volleyball conference in the country,” Danks said. “We can take a lot from this match. We’ve shown how strong we can come out and we just need to prove that we can maintain that energy, and finish at the end of games because we could have had it.”
The Buckeyes were lead by a strong performance behind their four seniors in Danks, Peterson, outside hitter Mari Hole and middle blocker Mariah Booth, but the Ducks made their adjustments as their redshirt senior outside hitter, Alaina Bergsma, shifted into a new gear in the last three sets.
“I thought we played really clean, solid, aggressive volleyball in the first two sets and did the game plan,” said Buckeyes coach Geoff Carlston. “Basically their best player Bergsma really stepped up and I got to give her credit for that. Our game plan broke down a little bit, and we just weren’t able to make the adjustments to slow her down.”
In the end, the Buckeyes lost by five points in the last set, and let a chance at victory slip away in the final seconds. But with the season being so young, Danks and Peterson said they know the team will continue to get better.
“(Oregon is) a really good team, and we’re just going to keep getting better, learn from our mistakes and keep on moving up,” Peterson said.
Danks agreed with her teammate, and took it a step further by challenging herself and her teammates.
“Everyday is a learning experience for me, whether it is physically or terms of leadership. So I am just going to continue to get better and not be complacent. I am going to take it up another notch by being more demanding of my teammates and myself,” she said. “(I need to) keep perfecting my shots, my serve and my defense so that at the end of the year, I know I got every ounce of talent I have out.”
Carlston said he expects more from his seniors and believes that this unit is one of the best in the country.
“It’s a tough loss because (Oregon is) one of the top teams in the country, as I feel we are too,” Carlston said. “We have a veteran team, and with four seniors starting, I am challenging them to step up every weekend because we have a very tough schedule.”
Carlston said he was not happy with how his team responded during certain moments of the game, but knows that his team will continue to push each other to be better.
“I am disappointed in how we responded at times towards the end of the match. I know were going to come back and work hard on Monday,” Carlston said. “You lose by four points and after three hours, it’s a tough loss, but this is a group that is going to grow from it, and as a staff grow from it and continue to get better.”
OSU is next scheduled to play Binghamton at the Maryland Invitational on Friday, Aug. 31.