Beavers Battle in Saturday Split
HOUSTON – Oregon State nearly swept the Flo Hyman Collegiate Cup, eventually settling for second with a win over Central Arkansas and a five-set loss to host Houston.
The Beavs swept the Sugar Bears in the morning before going point-for-point with the Cougars in the evening. Oregon State was just a few points away from getting the reverse sweep against the hosts, but a late run put UH over the top.
"I felt as though we made some significant gains today," head coach Mark Barnard said. "To finish with a tough 5 set loss was a disappointing way to finish the day but to fight back from 2-0 down shows the character that this team is developing. The win this morning against Central Arkansas gave us an opportunity to try some different lineups which will pay off in the future."
Match 1: Oregon State 3, Central Arkansas 0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-16)
Oregon State provided perhaps its best wire-to-wire effort of the season to win the first match. The Beavers hit .348 and held UCA to .083 with 12 blocks in the sweep.
Izzi Szulczewski pushed all the right buttons on the attack, dishing out a season-high 34 assists while putting her hitters in the right position to finish plays. Mychael Vernon's run of seven straight error-free sets came to an end, but she still had an efficient day with 14 kills while hitting .462.
The Beavers opened the match with an impressive first set, hitting .286 with four blocks in a 25-19 victory. Tied at five, Oregon State made a four-point run and held off a UCA run later in the frame to secure the win. Aliyah McDonald led the Beavs with four kills and two blocks while Szulczewski contributed ten assists in the set.
The second set was more hotly contested, with Central Arkansas coming back from an early deficit to tie the set at 17. The Beavers had an answer though, closing the frame on a 6-1 run with two kills apiece from Vernon and Light. Szulczewski was on her game once again, dishing out 15 assists as the Beavs hit .424.
Oregon State closed the match with its best set of the season. The result was never in doubt, with the Beavers taking a 7-1 lead and then closing on a 4-0 run to seal the sweep. Central Arkansas made a small run to try and get back into the set, but Vivian Light responded with two straight kills before Vernon and Swan put the match away with their four kills making up the closing run.
Match 2: Houston 3, Oregon State 2 (25-18, 25-19, 26-28, 23-25, 15-12)
In the day's second contest, Oregon State nearly completed the reverse sweep before a last-second effort from Houston gave the hosts a five-set win.
McDonald hit .450 with 11 kills and five blocks. Light contributed a double-double with 17 kills and 12 digs. Ryan White added a team-high 17 digs.
Both of the first two sets saw Oregon State fight to get back into contention before a Houston run gave the hosts an insurmountable advantage. In the first, UH made a 7-1 run while up 18-17 to close the set. Then the Cougars made a 9-2 run to go from down three to leading by four, coasting to a 25-19 victory.
The Beavs responded in the third set. After a tightly contested frame where neither team took a lead greater than three points, OSU had to fight off a match point down 26-25. They did so, following it with a solo block from Vernon and a combo from Szulczewski and McDonald to win the final three points and extend the match.
Oregon State continued to battle in the fourth, winning another tight set. In another frame where the largest lead by either squad was three Szulczewski provided some of the offense for OSU. The setter/outside hitter had four kills in the set, along with a block. Light also contributed four kills, including the set-winner.
Unfortunately for OSU, the gritty comeback fell just short in the fifth set. Houston jumped out to a 5-0 lead before the Beavers battled back to tie it at nine. UH made a three-point run after a timeout though and the Beavs didn't have one final comeback in them, dropping the set and the match.
Oregon State returns home to host the Asics Invitational next weekend. The Beavs open the tournament with North Texas at 10 a.m. on September 9.
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