Cal Poly defeated three-time defending champion Hawai'i 3-2 to win the 2019 Big West Championship. Cal Poly Athletics | Courtesy

The No. 6 ranked Cal Poly Women’s Beach Volleyball team secured their spot in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history by claiming the Big West Championship on April 27.

Friday

The Mustangs opened the tournament April 26 with a pair of sweeps, winning 5-0 over both Sacramento State and Long Beach State. Cal Poly (25-10) was the No. 2 seed in the tournament. The Mustangs’ lost their previous three matchups with the 49ers (19-10), one of which was last year in the Big West Tournament. 

“Revenge … totally great,”  sophomore Macy Gordon said. “It was super cool to see a 5-0 sweep on the board, especially when we had lost to them [Long Beach] earlier in the season.”

Video by Kylie Smith

The No. 1 pairing of senior Chrissy Jones and sophomore Tia Miric lead the Mustangs with 21-7 and 21-17 wins over the Hornets. Then, the No. 2 pairing junior Emily Sonny and Gordon dominated with 21-7 and 21-11 victories. Freshmen Jayelin Lombard and senior Kat Wright also dominated with 21-7 and 21-11 victories at the No. 3 position. Freshman Delaney Peranich and senior Samantha Manley were favored with 21-4 and 21-5 wins over the Hornets at the No. 4 position. The 5-0 final score was locked in at the No. 5 position by freshman Vanessa Roscoe and junior Brayden Gruenewald’s winning straight sets 21-5 and 21-6.

Later in the day, Jones and Miric won 21-17 and 21-12, improving their record to a team-best 20-7. Sonny and Gordon won their matches 21-18 and 21-12. Their record after the two Friday wins came to 14-3, which is the best percentage for a pair on the team.

“[Macy and I], we hype each other up,” Sonny said. ” We never get sad. It’s always about the next point.”

Lombard and Wright had 21-16 and 21-17 wins. Peranich and Manley won their matches 21-16 and 21-18, bringing the score 4-0 over the 49ers. Roscoe and Grunewald came out on top with 2-6 and 21-17 victories to conclude Friday’s 5-0 win.

Saturday

The Mustangs took down the No. 5 Rainbow Wahine (26-9) on Saturday, not once but twice.

Cal Poly’s first 4-1 victory was in the semifinal match against Hawai’i. Later, the Mustangs clinched the championship match with a 3-2 win, taking the title the Rainbow Wahine have held the past three years.

“This year just feels like we have earned it,” Sonny said.

In the semifinal match against Hawai’i, the Mustangs won the first four sets. Sonny and Gordon grabbed the first point off of a medical forfeit. Then, Peranich and Manley won 21-14 in straight sets. Roscoe and Grunewald also came out strong, winning 21-14 and 21-19. Jones and Miric got the fourth point, winning straight sets 21-14 and 24-22.

In the Big West Championship later that day, after Hawai’i defeated Long Beach State, the Mustangs and Rainbow Wahine met again.

The teams were closely matched, especially the second time around. Three out of the five matches went to a third set. At the No. 1 position, Jones and Miric broke it open, getting the Mustangs’ first point in straight sets and winning 21-11 and 21-9.

Hawai’i came back and won the sets at the No. 3 position to tie it up 1-1. Sonny and Gordon allowed no room for a Hawai’i lead and won two out of their three sets with 21-17 and 15-8 at the No. 2 position. Hawai’i caught up at the No. 4 position, tying it 2-2.

“The team has always been a good team, but adversity makes them an even better team,” Mustangs’ head coach Todd Rogers said.

Roscoe and Gruenewald battled hard in their final sets at the final No. 5 position. They won their first set 21-18, but then dropped the second 21-19. Each pair traded leads for the entire third set. They eventually were tied at 19. The Mustang pair won consecutive points to clinch the match 21-19 in the first Big West Championship for Cal Poly.

“They were solid under pressure,” Gordon said. “I ran over to the court and was cheering as hard as I could, but I knew they had it.”

“There’s not even words to describe the excitement,” Sonny said. “I think we have a big chance of going really far.”

“Everyone’s put in a lot of work, and this is just a fruition of all that hard work,” Rogers said. “Watching them attain something, that is a huge goal for them and has been the biggest piece of enjoyment for me.”

The team is now on their way to Alabama for the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever in program history, from May 3-5. The No. 6 seeded Mustangs will kick of the double elimination tournament taking on the No. 3 seeded Florida State (28-5) Friday, May 3 at 12 p.m. Florida State is on a streak of 12 consecutive wins and also claimed the team’s fourth Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) Conference Championship.

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