After securing a share of the Big West championship on Friday night by defeating UC Riverside, the No. 14 Cal Poly Volleyball team secured sole possession of the Big West title after the Mustangs (24-2, 15-1 Big West) defeated Cal State Fullerton in three straight sets on Saturday night (25-17, 25,19, 25-12) in Mott Athletics Center.
The Mustangs got off to a rapid start against the Titans (6-24, 0-16 Big West), taking an early 10-3 lead in the first set. After trading off a pair of points, the Titans scored four unanswered points to reduce Cal Poly’s lead to four at 12-8.
The Mustangs broke away later on in the set, when sophomore outside hitter Jamie Stivers notched three consecutive kills to put Cal Poly up 22-13. While the Titans scored four of the next six points, an error from the team gave the first set to the Mustangs 25-17.
The second set began to a different tune, with Cal State Fullerton taking an early 9-5 lead. The Titans’ lead was short lived, as back-to-back kills from junior opposite hitter Torrey Van Winden and freshman middle blocker Meredith Phillips tied the set up at 13-13. Cal Poly went on a 10-6 run before Torrey Van Winden recorded two straight kills to secure the second set by a score of 25-19.
Cal State Fullerton began the third set by taking a 3-2 lead, but that was their only lead of the set as the Mustangs took 11 of the next 15 points to go up at 13-7. The Mustangs extended their lead to 11 points thanks in part to a block and two kills from Stivers.
A Titans service error and an ace from freshman defensive specialist Lea Ungar set up match point for the Mustangs. Sophomore outside hitter Maia Dvoracek got the match-winning kill to give Cal Poly the set 25-12.
Torrey Van Winden recorded her 12th double-double of the season, getting 12 kills and 12 digs in the match, while freshman setter Avalon DeNecochea led both teams in assists with 33 in the match. Senior libero Katherine Brouker almost had a double-double of her own, getting 11 digs and nine assists in the match.
The win extends their home winning streak to 21 matches dating back to the 2016 season and is the team’s second straight undefeated season at home.
“I think we built Mott back up from the ground,” senior outside hitter Adlee Van Winden said about her experience playing in Mott Athletics Center. “My freshman year, this exact game [on] Thanksgiving break, we probably had 50 fans here. To have an almost packed gym in Mott on Thanksgiving break during senior night is something so special.”
Both Brouker and Adlee Van Winden were honored before the match as this was their last regular season home match in Mott Athletics Center.
“It’s been a wild ride, it’s been an amazing ride,” Brouker said. “I loved every single second of it and I’m so grateful.”
Having clinched their second straight conference title, the Mustangs will have to wait until Sunday, Nov. 25 to find out who and where they will be playing in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“We need to kind of create the uncomfortable chaos of what happens in a tournament match,” head coach Sam Crosson said. “A lot of that is so [the team] can go through the mental ability to understand that it’s all just worth one point.”