The Oregon State volleyball team relishes the challenge of five-set matches.
But in Friday’s Civil War showdown, rival Oregon had too much firepower down the stretch.
Ronika Stone, Taylor Agost, Jolie Rasmussen and Willow Johnson all had multiple kills in the final set as the 24th-ranked Ducks pulled out a 3-2 victory to close the regular season before a Gill Coliseum crowd of 2,293. Set scores were 25-22, 16-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-9.
Both teams are projected to make the NCAA tournament field.
“At the end, they were just better,” OSU coach Mark Barnard said. “We didn’t serve as tough as we had been and once they set their middle players, especially (Stone), we don’t have the physical capability to deal with her. We knew we were in trouble once they could get the ball to her.”
Stone tallied three kills in the fifth set as Oregon (17-11, 10-10), which swept the season series with OSU (21-11, 11-9) for the third straight year, snagged the lead for good at 6-5.
The Beavers cut it to 10-9 on a Maddie Goings kill and Stone attack error before the Ducks closed the match on a 5-0 run.
“They got their middles going, and once they get their middles going they are unstoppable,” said OSU senior Mary-Kate Marshall, who recorded a match-high 19 kills. “I am proud of my team’s fight and energy throughout the whole set. We didn’t look defeated, we didn’t feel defeated and we ended it fighting the whole time.”
OSU, which entered with a 4-1 record in five-set matches, will learn its NCAA tournament fate when the selection show airs live on ESPNU at 6 p.m. Sunday. The Beavers are expected to be an at-large pick for the first time since 2014.
A selection show watch party will be held in the loge level of Reser Stadium. Doors open to the public at 5:30 p.m.
“We’ve won 21 matches this year, that’s an incredible achievement,” Barnard said. “This is a little downer, but come Sunday we’ll have forgotten about it and we’ll be looking forward to where we’re going to end up.”
Goings finished with 14 kills and 14 digs while Haylie Bennett added 13 kills and five block assists. Kory Cheshire tallied 11 kills, three stuff blocks and three block assists.
Grace Massey had 30 digs and Kylee McLaughlin 49 assists and 21 digs. Santiam Christian High graduate Maddy Gravley led the way with seven block assists and two stuff blocks.
Stone paced the balanced Ducks with 14 kills. Taylor (12 kills), Johnson (11), Lindsey Vander Weide (11) and Rasmussen (10) weren’t far behind.
Oregon, which snapped a four-match losing streak, erupted with a late 5-0 run to win a competitive opening set.
Trailing 21-19 following a Bennett kill, the Ducks tallied the next five points as the crowd continued to trickle in. The Beavers fought off one set point before Vander Weide ended it with a kill.
Bennett, a Philomath High graduate, had seven kills in the set while hitting 50 percent.
OSU never trailed in the second, going up 13-7 on a Marshall kill that capped a lively rally. With momentum on their side, the Beavers crafted a double-digit lead and cruised to even the match.
Seven of the Beavers’ 20 block assists came in the second set.
A thunderous Vander Weide spike concluded a 9-1 Oregon run in the third that put the visitors up 13-8. OSU pulled within three on five separate occasions — including 24-21 — but the Ducks held off each challenge.
Two Cheshire kills helped spark a 6-1 spurt that gave the Beavers a 19-15 lead in the fourth. Oregon survived two set points before Bennett and Gravley teamed up to block a Vander Weide attack for the final point.
Prior to the match, Lanesha Reagan, McKenna Hollingsworth and Marshall were honored during senior night festivities.
“Beaver Nation was terrific in coming out to support us,” Marshall said of the crowd, which included a full band. “To be able to play in front of this many people was just awesome.”