Credit: Owen Roberts | Mustang News, 2023

As the lowest seed to ever reach the championship game, Cal Poly Beach Volleyball fell in the Big West Championships to Long Beach State, 4-1, after the two-day conference tournament on Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22 in Hawaii.

Coming into the season, the Mustangs (15-25) were looking to defend their Big West title for the fourth consecutive season. 

However, the regular season didn’t match those expectations as Cal Poly started the year with an 0-8 record and never found a rhythm.

The Mustangs headed into the tournament as the No. 5 seed and opened it up with a 4-1 win over CSU Bakersfield.

Up against No. 8 Hawaii, the favorite to win the Big West, Cal Poly suffered a 4-1 loss to send the team to the loser’s bracket.

This set up a matchup with CSU Northridge where the Mustangs came out on top 3-2 to close out day one of competition.

Headed into the Saturday matches, Cal Poly still needed to climb out of the elimination bracket, and it wasn’t the first time the Mustangs were forced to make an unlikely run. When the team hoisted the trophy in 2018, they came from the bottom half of the bracket.

Cal Poly started out hot, taking down No. 3 seed UC Davis 4-1 to set up another matchup with the Rainbow Wahine in the semifinals with the winner taking on Long Beach State for the championship.

Hawaii picked up two of the first three spots, winning at courts five and one while the Mustangs grabbed a victory on court four. 

However, the No. 2 Cal Poly duo of freshmen Izzy Martinez and sophomore Piper Ferch tied the matchup at 2-2, setting it up for the veteran pairing of senior Delaney Peranich and graduate Brooke Golik.

Peranich and Golik came through after dropping the first set, winning 18-21, 21-19, 15-12 to give the Mustangs an opportunity to defend their title against Long Beach State.

The odds were stacked against them, however, as Cal Poly needed to beat a well-rested Long Beach State, the 11th-ranked team in the nation, twice to win the championship. The Mustangs were also on their third consecutive match without a break.

The Beach ultimately got the job done, cruising to two-set wins in the first four courts to finish to clinch the Big West championship. Peranich and Golik were the only Mustangs to prevail, as they finished their matchup on court three after the overall result was decided. 

Cal Poly will now turn to the offseason, where the program will look to improve despite losing seven graduating members of the team.