This story was posted at 12:40 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 5.

The Cal Poly volleyball team claimed first place in the Big West Conference on Saturday night against Pacific. The Mustangs swept the Tigers 25-23, 25-10, 25-21 at Mott Gym.

The match was memorable for Mustangs head coach Jon Stevenson as both his 100th at Cal Poly (9-6, 4-0 Big West Conference), and his 23rd sweep there.

“We had a hard-fought first game,” Stevenson said. “We played great in game two, 25-10 against a good team, and then game three was truly amazing. To make as many service errors as we did and still win. I’ve never seen that.”

The Tigers (3-9, 3-1 BWC) attempted to even the score during the first set, repeatedly tying the Mustangs’ lead but falling behind at the last moment despite aggressive close-net blocking.

With the score 20-9 in the second set, junior outside hitter Ashleigh Bertoni racked up the points in a four-ace streak, undermining the ability of the Tigers to bounce back.

The third set was indeed fraught with service errors as the match neared conclusion.

“Nobody seemed able to score on the court,” Stevenson said. “It’s unheard of.”

Nevertheless, Stevenson had nothing but praise for his players.

“Ashleigh Bertoni’s role has developed in the team,” he said. “When she hits the ball correctly, she hits the toughest serve. It is the most difficult serve to pass that I’ve seen this year.”

Cal Poly junior setter Hailey Fithian had 32 assists.

“We had some great kill blocks tonight,” Fithian said. “I think that really gave our team some good momentum. Ashleigh came in and did a great job serving I don’t even know how many aces in a row. Big plays like that really got us celebrating and helping us play cohesively as a team tonight.”

Stevenson still pointed to room for improvement, especially from senior outside hitter Ali Waller, who finished with a respectable eight kills, behind senior opposite Kylie Atherstone’s 12.

“I have more respect for that kid and more faith in her than any player I’ve ever had,” Stevenson said. “Ali Waller is fantastic but she just didn’t have a great night. I have total confidence in her and I need her to be great so that we can win the Big West.”

The two-time defending Big West champion Mustangs will visit Long Beach State at 7 p.m. Friday.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *