Cal Poly Beach Volleyball went winless in four matchups as San Luis Obispo played host to the Center of Effort Challenge on Friday, April 14 and Saturday, April 15 at Swanson Beach Volleyball Complex.
The Mustangs (11-23) hosted the nation’s best, with seven ranked teams making the trip, including five of the top six.
Friday vs. TCU
The Mustangs kicked off the tournament with a tough test against the No.1 TCU Horned Frogs (30-1), who took down Cal Poly 4-1.
Cal Poly’s No. 3 duo of senior Delaney Peranich and graduate Brooke Golik picked up the lone win for the Mustangs, coming out on top 15-21, 22-20, 20-18 to extend their streak to three straight victories.
Although the Mustangs fell to the Horned Frogs, the celebration of seniors and graduate students took place between Cal Poly’s matches.
The squad had seven Mustangs that were celebrated, including Peranich, Golik, Jayelin Lombard, Susie Lloyd, Kalee Graff, Erika Foreman, and Josie Ulrich.
Friday vs. Pepperdine
In the second matchup of the day, Cal Poly fell to the No. 19 Pepperdine Waves (16-10) in a back-and-forth affair, 3-2.
The Mustangs’ No. 3 duo got it done again, as Peranich and Golik came away with a win in straight sets.
Court four was taken back by the Waves to even the total score at 1-1 and set up for drama-filled action in the later matches.
The Mustangs took back the lead at the two spot, as Lombard and junior Piper Naess battled for a closely-decided three-set win 21-14, 12-21, 15-13.
After a Pepperdine win at court one, the score was tied up with a match-deciding faceoff at the three spot.
Cal Poly’s Graff and freshman Emma Zuffelato went into a third set with a chance to ice the match. After back-and-forth play, the Waves began to pull away and took the third set, 15-9, and the overall matchup.
Saturday vs. UCLA
Cal Poly opened up its second day of competition with a 4-1 loss to UCLA (30-2), the third-ranked team in the nation.
The first spot to finish was court four, where Cal Poly’s Marina Warren and Margo Smith lost in two sets, 21-10 and 21-10.
The No. 1 pairings ended in a similar fashion, as Piper Ferch and Izzy Martinez fell 21-8, 21-12 to put the Bruins up 2-0.
It was the same story for courts three and four, as UCLA took care of the Mustangs in two sets in each of those matchups to clinch the overall matchup win.
Despite the end result determined, court three continued to play, as Peranich and Golik took the Bruins to a third set. In that exciting and high-scoring set, the Mustangs came out on top to clinch a 21-18, 21-23, 20-18 victory.
“It’s electric, we both beat TCU, Pepperdine, and UCLA and it just feels good,” Peranich said. “It feels like justice.”
Saturday vs. Long Beach State
In Cal Poly’s last action of the weekend, the Mustangs fell to No. 11 Long Beach State (20-14), 3-2.
The Beach jumped out to an early lead after picking up wins at the number two and five courts.
Cal Poly then picked up its first win on court four with Graff and Zuffelato coming out on top 21-16, 21-19.
The Mustangs continued to claw back with Peranich and Golik finishing their perfect weekend with a win at court three, 21-19, 19-21, 15-12.
“We work so hard this season… that end product that we were looking for has finally hit its peak,” Golik said.
With the matchup tied up at 2-2, it came down to the top court, where Lombard and Naess were playing together for the first time on the weekend.
After a tight first set where the Beach came out on top, the Mustangs powered back with a 21-16 win in set two to send it to a deciding third set. There, Long Beach State pulled out the 15-12 set victory and the overall win.
In the end, UCLA took down rival USC by a score of 3-2 to claim the first ever Center of Effort Championship.
The Mustangs, meanwhile, will turn their attention to the Big West Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii on Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22.
Cal Poly has won three straight Big West Championships.