Beavers force fifth set, yet lose close one to UCLA

Middle blocker Aliyah McDonald (#5) and outside hitter Mychael Vernon (#6) celebrate after scoring a point in the Beavs’ game against the UCLA Bruins in Gill Coliseum in Corvallis on Nov. 22, 2023.
Middle blocker Aliyah McDonald (#5) and outside hitter Mychael Vernon (#6) celebrate after scoring a point in the Beavs’ game against the UCLA Bruins in Gill Coliseum in Corvallis on Nov. 22, 2023.
Morgan Barnaby

The Beavers saw themselves down 2-1, and tried clawing back in as they forced a 5th set, yet ultimately lost in the 5th set 15-12 to the Bruins.

The Beavers found themselves leading in almost every major category, kills, assists, aces, digs, and hitting percentage and only trailed the Bruins in blocks.

Even with the statistical lead, they weren’t able to pull away with the win.

Lauren Rumel, OSU outside hitter,  had her best game since Sep. 9, as she had 14 kills and hit an astounding .609.

“Our goal was to set the middle off of every first ball that we could and I think that was very effective and I think it translated to siding out faster,” Rumel said.

Mychael Vernon, another outside hitter from the Beavers, put up huge numbers, as she tallied 24 kills, her second highest on the season. Earlier this month we saw her surpass 1000 kills.  

OSU libero Ryan White was able to notch her fourth kill of the season. 

“The setter was front row at the time, so she was in that zone too, and I was like I’m going to try to get them out of system here. It is a really tough play when the setter is trying not to take the first ball, and then they all just watched it drop,” said White in regard to her kill.

White also excelled at covering her hitters, as Head Coach Lindsey Behonick helped implement a new strategy for White midway through the season.

“Essentially me taking a knee is easier for me to be balanced when the hitter is contacting. I’m at a lower point on the ground so when we are hitting into the block, I’m already there low ready to dig. So essentially the knee is just another way for me to stay balanced because it really makes me slow down. I have to be stopped essentially, but I feel like it helped a lot.”

Bruins star Iman Ndiaye, an outside hitter,  was utilized all around the court, as she notched 23 kills and three blocks in the game.

A dominant set one saw the Beavers jump out to an early lead. They started off by feeding the two middle blockers, Aaliyah McDonald and Rumel, which opened up the pin hitters to feast the rest of the set. Vernon led the way with four kills in the 25-14 set win.

Set two saw UCLA go up big before OSU tied the game at 22. The Beavers couldn’t finish off the comeback as the Bruins put the set away 25-22. This set was the best set blocking wise for the Bruins, as they notched six blocks, which ultimately helped them win the set.

The Beavers had more kills in the third set than the Bruins, but UCLA was always in the right place at the right time, as they had five blocks on the set to the Beavers one. The set went into extra points, and the Bruins came back and scored three straight points to win it 27-25 after Rumel got an ace to put the Beavers up 25-24. Two of those five blocks happened in the final three points, as the Bruins blocked both Beaver attempts, and got an ace for their other point.

This put the Beavers down 2-1, needing two straight set wins to come back.

An all-around great set saw everyone getting involved for the Beavers. They were able to secure match point, and got some help from the Bruins, as UCLA outside hitter Cheridyn Leverette put the ball into the net on her serve to finish off the set 25-18 in favor of the Beavers

A hard-fought set five saw the Bruins taking it 15-12 to secure their 17th win of the season, and 9th in conference.

The Bruins head back to Los Angeles to take on rival USC on the road for their final game of the season on Friday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m.

The Beavers stay at home to hopefully secure one more win as they take on #6 ranked Oregon for the season finale on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. in Gill Coliseum. The Beavers sit at 11-18 with one more game to go. 

After the season finale, all teams around the nation will be tuned in on Sunday, Nov. 26 as the Women’s Volleyball Committee will get together and announce the 64 teams that qualify for the Division 1 tournament.

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