At precisely the wrong point of the season, the Oregon Ducks had match point in the 4th set and could not close, dropping their match to the Louisville Cardinals in five sets, 23-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-27, 6-15.
The Ducks and Cardinals played evenly in the first two sets, and each side really worked for every point they earned.
In the third set it appeared that the Oregon machine was in fine form, and the Ducks opened with a 7-0 run. The Ducks offense was humming and Louisville errors made catching up impossible.
The fourth set found the teams trading leads all set. Oregon went ahead 23-21 on a 5-1 run. Up 24-23 with match point, determined play by the Cardinals and some unfortunate errors by the Ducks allowed Louisville to snatch the set and the momentum going into the pivotal fifth set.
Oregon initially had the lead 3-2, but a 5-0 Louisville run gave the Cardinals the lead. The Ducks rattled a couple of points off, but Louisville put together a 6-0 that was going to all but end the shorter 5th set. Errors and the inability to defend against Louisville’s attacks, buttressed by an energetic home crowd, ended the Ducks’ run in the 2022 tournament.
On paper, Oregon had equal or better stats in all areas except for service aces and service errors. But in championship matches, it’s the little things that you did or did not do that loom large in the final outcome. Instead of the Ducks, it was Louisville that punched back when faced with match point and prevailed to advance into the finals.
Oregon ends their season 26-6, 17-3 Pac-12. There is only one team in the tournament that doesn’t go home with a loss, but that’s small consolation when you had the opportunity to advance, you controlled your destiny, only to fall short.
Oregon was not the only Pac-12 team not advancing, as San Diego State continues its historic run by knocking off #1 Stanford.
“I think we have to let it hurt and really understand the situation that we were in,” Morgan Lewis said, after the match. “And then next fall, once we get back on the court, really just take it and run with it. We’re so capable and we know that, and so it sucks right now. But we’ve gotta use it.”