Cal Poly Volleyball narrowly escaped a five set battle with UC Davis on Saturday, Oct. 5 in Mott Athletic Center. With the victory, the Mustangs extended their record of the nation’s longest home winning streak to 27 games. They remain undefeated in the Big West Conference at 5-0.

Junior outside hitter Maia Dvorcek recorded a match-high of 21 kills as senior outside hitter Jessica McRoskey added a career-high 13 kills in route to the victory. While Cal Poly only hit for .190 compared to the Aggies’ .271, a strong start to the fifth set provided the Mustangs momentum to finish out the victory.

“We went into lulls with our energy, passing and execution and that compounded into some not-so-great volleyball,” Dvoracek said. “We won sets one and two, so it was really just about finding some fire to bring back into set five … we can always figure out a way to play good volleyball.”

Maia Dvoracek celebrates a point against the Aggies on Oct. 5. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

The Aggies (10-7, 2-2 Big West) jumped to an early 9-4 lead in the first set behind three kills from Lauren Matias. UC Davis held onto their lead until three consecutive errors combined with a McRoskey kill to even the set at 16-16. The Mustangs followed up with a 6-2 run to capture the lead before a kill from sophomore setter Avalon DeNecochea ended the set at 25-21.

The Aggies kicked off the second set much like the first and took advantage of a 6-2 run to amass a 17-10 lead. However, Cal Poly answered with six consecutive points to shorten the gap at 17-16. After UC Davis extended their lead to 21-18, the Mustangs produced an impressive 7-0 run behind four kills from sophomore middle-blocker Meredith Phillips to finish off the second set at 25-18.

After two tight sets between the two teams, the Aggies broke through in what could have been a decisive third set. The teams traded points until a score of 5-5 before UC Davis set themselves apart with seven straight points. The seven-point gap was the closest the Mustangs would come to recovering the lead for the remainder of the set. 

Nikki Jackson (10) recorded ten kills in Cal Poly’s victory over UC Davis. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News
Nikki Jackson (10) recorded ten kills in Cal Poly’s victory over UC Davis. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

The Aggies carried their momentum into the fourth set and jumped to a 10-7 lead as a result of five Mustang attack errors. UC Davis extended their lead to 16-9 before the Mustangs shortened the gap to five points at 23-18. However, a Cal Poly service error and a kill from Leonie Strehl ended the set at 25-18 to bring the match to a fifth and final set.

While Cal Poly head coach Caroline Walters said the Mustangs were not aggressive enough with their serves, she noted the Aggies’ “impressive” offensive output in Saturday’s match.

“[UC Davis] has a lot of good pieces, and this conference, that’s what it is,” Walters said. “You have to prepare every single night to play for a Big West Championship.”

Two UC Davis errors and two kills by Dvoracek kickstarted a fifth set that saw Cal Poly in control throughout the remainder of the match. After the Mustangs secured a 5-1 advantage, the team extended their lead to 12-6 due to two attack errors from the Aggies. UC Davis managed to cut their deficit to 14-10, but a final kill by Dvoracek capped the set at 15-10 for a Mustang victory.

The victory marked the fifth time Cal Poly has won a five-set match this season.

“Going five sets isn’t fun, but we’ve shown this year that we weirdly like fifth sets for some reason,” Dvoracek said. “We play really aggressive and hard and scrappy in fifth sets … We’ve been there before and we know how to get out of it.”

The Mustangs return to Mott Athletic Center on Oct. 11 to play University of Hawai’i at 7 p.m.

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