As the confetti fell in the KFC Yum! Center and the Oregon Ducks watched the Texas Longhorns celebrate winning the 2012 national championship in front of over 16,000 people, there were no noticeable tears from the Oregon players.
Instead, the looks were that of disappointment and maybe even more appropriately anger. As soon as the team accepted their runner up awards, the Ducks immediately headed to the locker room and did not wait to see Texas given the national title trophy.
Oregon did not play their best game of the season on Saturday night; in fact their effort against the Longhorns was probably collectively one of their worst efforts of the year. They looked sloppy and out of sorts and nothing really seemed to go their way. Some of that can be attributed to nerves and inexperience on such a grand stage, but Oregon just did not play very well.
Now did Texas deserve to win this game and the national title? Absolutely. Bailey Webster showed that she deserved to be an All-American and the tournament MVP and Texas simply looked better and more athletic than did Oregon. What will be hard for the Oregon team and fans alike though is that Texas did not beat Oregon at their best.
The Ducks had 23 errors compared to Texas’ four and that big of a discrepancy does not translate to playing winning volleyball.
As Jim Moore took to the podium for his post game press conference Alaina Bergsma, Katherine Fischer and Liz Brenner joined him. The three players made no excuses for their performance and were uncharacteristically short answered with the media. The disappointment on their faces was evident. They knew that they had not performed to potential on the biggest stage and most important match of their careers.
In his opening statements Moore spoke on the Oregon serving woes of the night and how that made it hard to be successful.
Moore said, “If we weren’t going to apply pressure serving it made it impossible … Credit to their passing, but we applied no pressure there.”
As the press conference wore on, the players fielded questions but it was obvious to everyone in the room they had no desire to be there.
Before the players departed back to their locker room they were asked to describe their emotions about the season that had just ended; the season where they were within three sets of being national champions.
“This is definitely one of the biggest disappointments of my life,” senior Fischer said. “I’ve played my entire life trying to get here, and we got here and we didn’t perform. This is a great journey. I’m really proud of us, everything we’ve accomplished. We’ve worked really hard. Just hard to take right now.”
That will be the hardest part of the defeat to handle for the Ducks. They worked all year to get to the national title game and simply just underperformed. The Texas Longhorns deserved to win the national championship on Saturday night but they didn’t win it over Oregon on their best day, not even close.