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The Cal Poly volleyball team (9-13, 4-8 Big West Conference) won the second match of its two-game homestand Saturday evening at Mott Athletics Center, defeating Cal State Fullerton 3-1.
Freshman outside hitter Raeann Greisen was the star of the match and couldn’t be stopped, accumulating a career-high 24 kills.
The Titans (7-17, 1-10), who came into the match in eighth place in conference play, were the better team early on. The Titans pounced on the Mustangs’ lackadaisical start and raced out to a 16-11 lead.
The Mustangs finally woke up and tied the set at 24 and rallied to win the first set in dramatic fashion, 29-27, thanks to a Titan hitting error.
“I’m a pretty mellow person,” head coach Sam Crosson said about whether or not these close sets make him nervous. “I really trust in our team to execute and make all the plays needed to succeed.”
In the second set, the Mustangs could not continue the momentum and trailed the Titans 13-10. The Mustangs once again clawed their way back into the set at 23-a-piece thanks to excellent serves by junior libero Nicole Kessler. However, the Mustangs could not get over the hump and dropped the set 28-26.
The Mustangs struggled against the Titans’ lengthy front wall and only managed to accumulate a .133 hitting percentage in the second set.
In the pivotal third set, Cal Poly came out of the break with more focus and energy.
Led by Greisen and junior outside hitter Hannah Schleis, the Mustangs were much better offensively. They amassed 15 kills, committed only five errors and had a respectable .263 hitting percentage. Defensively, the Mustangs also dominated, holding the Titans to a disastrous minus-.129 hitting percentage while winning the set 25-18.
Leading the match two sets to one, the Mustangs were in prime position to close it out. Schleis stepped up and had three early kills in the set to put the Mustangs up 10-6.
Schleis had a terrific night, finishing the match with a season-high 15 kills. However, a 6-0 run produced by the Titans put them in front 12-10. Undeterred, the Mustangs used strong communication and crisp attacking to retake the lead 16-15. Greisen came through in the clutch, tallying seven of her 24 kills late in the fourth set.
A Titan hitting error would eventually give the Mustangs the set and the match, clinching the victory with a 26-24 fourth-set win.
“It was my teammates passing and setting that gave me the opportunity to succeed,” Greisen said about her new career high. “Taylor Nelson had a great game and everybody else did a great job communicating and executing the game plan.”
The Mustangs were dominant at the service line, recording an astounding 11 aces, nine more than their opponent. They also forced the Titans into 11 return errors, further asserting their serving skills.
With just four matches left, the Mustangs travel to conference-leading Long Beach State on Nov. 14, then to Cal State Northridge on Nov. 15 for their final road trip of the season. The match against the 49ers will be broadcast on ESPN3.