No. 24 Long Beach State went two years and four days since losing to the Cal Poly volleyball team, a time that included three straight victories for the 49ers.
But Cal Poly freshman outside hitter Adlee Van Winden had different plans for this match.
Van Winden had 21 kills and nine digs for the Mustangs (9-5, 1-1 Big West) to power Cal Poly to a 25-17, 20-25, 25-23, 25-15 victory. In the crucial third set, she notched three kills to put the Mustangs up and give them the go-ahead set victory.
Junior middle blocker Taylor Gruenewald had 14 kills and six digs on the attack as well. Sophomore setter Taylor Nelson was everywhere for the Mustangs. She dished 49 assists and hit 20 digs in a great performance.
In the first set, Van Winden powered an 8-0 run for the Mustangs to go ahead 16-9 before the 25-17 win. Long Beach State (12-4, 2-1 Big West) responded with a 7-2 run to close the second set following an 18-18 tie, showing why they were ranked in the Top 25 coming into the match.
The third set had ties at 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21 and 22 points before Van Winden rattled off three straight kills for Cal Poly to win 25-23. That set win gave the Mustangs the momentum they needed in the fourth set to gain a big early. The Mustangs led by as many as 11 points before Van Winden clinched the win with a kill at the end of a 30-second volley.
“I think this validates for (the players) that the progress we’re making has us going in the right direction,” Cal Poly head coach Sam Crosson said. “It was good to see them battle back in the third and then serve well in the fourth to cause a little chaos for the other side.”
A win like this against a ranked team, led by a pair of underclassmen in Van Winden and Nelson, points to a great future for the volleyball team. The squad already matched its win total from last season in 13 fewer games and now has the confidence from beating a Big West Conference power going into its match at home against CSUN this Saturday at 4 p.m.