No. 14 Cal Poly beach volleyball earned three wins on day one of the Big West tournament on Friday, Apr. 29 at the Swanson Beach Volleyball Complex.
The Mustangs came into the tournament as the No. 3 seed, behind the University of Hawaii and Long Beach State.
Cal Poly took down CSUN for the first match, followed it up with a comeback win in the afternoon against No. 11 Long Beach State and ended the night with another comeback win against No. 9 Hawaii.
Game One vs. CSUN
Cal Poly dominated in their first match in the bracket, winning 5-0 and taking every matchup in two sets.
Connor and Miric were named American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Americans earlier in the week. This is the third time that Miric has been given the honor and is a huge accomplishment for Connor in her first year of collegiate volleyball.
At No. 3, freshman Peyton Dueck was back in the lineup after missing last week’s tournament and multiple matches in the Center of Challenge due to a shoulder injury. She was back with her regular partner in graduate Addison Hermstad. The two did what they usually do — win.
Set one was taken 21-14 and set two closed the door 21-10 and clinched the match for the Mustangs.
Redshirt junior Vanessa Roscoe found herself in the lineup with redshirt sophomore Josie Ulrich on court five. Their matches were closer at 21-17, 21-18, but they were still able to win outright in two sets.
Game Two vs. No. 11 Long Beach State
A win against CSUN advanced the Mustangs to take on No. 2 seeded Long Beach State in the quarterfinals of the Big West championship.
Game two was not as easy of a victory as game one. In fact, the Beach took three of the first five sets to start off the matchup.
At court one, the duo of Connor and Miric came out on top. The No. 1 duo dominated set one 21-13 and then played a closer set two, still winning 21-19 to earn the point.
Ferch and Lombard lost in two sets on court two, losing 22-20 and 21-14. This tied the match at 1-1 with three courts still going.
On court five, Roscoe and Ulrich were up one 23-21 after set one. In set two, the Beach tied it up with a 21-12 victory. Set three went Beach’s way as well, 15-10, to put them ahead.
Down 2-1, court three was a must-win for the Mustangs. On this court, Dueck and Hermstad also went three sets. After winning set one 21-15, the scoreboard was flipped on its head as the Cal Poly duo lost by the same score. In the final set, the Mustang pairing took the game with a 15-9 set victory.
This left the overall matchup tied at 2-2 as the player flocked to watch the No. 4 duo of Whalen and Naess. The pairing found themselves in a hole after losing set one but squeezed out a set-two victory at 21-18. The close play continued into set three.
In the third and final deciding set, Whalen and Naess secured a clutch 15-12 win to clinch the 3-2 win.
Game Three vs. No. 9 Hawaii
Going into their third and final matchup of the day, the Mustangs knew that a win over Hawaii would send them straight to the Big West Championship.
With the pressure on, Cal Poly came out on top in another nail-biting 3-2 victory over a higher-ranked opponent.
For the first time on the day, the duo of Miric and Connor dropped their matchup, 21-17, 21-16, which gave Hawaii the quick 1-0 lead.
That lead didn’t last long, however, as Whalen and Naess evened the score at 1-1 on court four after a 21-15, 21-17 win.
The Rainbow Wahine took the lead right back after taking the No. 5 matchup in three sets, 18-21, 21-11, 15-12.
With two points already under their belt, Hawaii needed just one more win from the two courts left while Cal Poly would need to sweep the final two to come out on top.
The pressure was on once again, and Dueck and Hermstad didn’t back down and kept the Mustangs alive with a three-set victory, 21-14, 19-21, 15-8.
With the duel tied at 2-2, all of the focus moved to Lombard and Ferch at the No. 2 court. Hawaii dominated set one 21-13, but the Mustangs bounced right back with a dominant win of their own by a score of 21-14. With the duel on the line, the Cal Poly duo went on a 6-1 run to finish off the Rainbow Wahine with a 15-13 win, giving the Mustangs their second 3-2 comeback win of the day.
The three wins on Friday earned Cal Poly a spot in the championship match on Saturday, Apr. 30 at 11:30 a.m. A win in the championship game will give the Mustangs an automatic place in the NCAA finals tournament in Gulf Shores, Ala. starting on Wednesday, May 4.