Josie Ulrich (30) digs the ball as #5 Cal Poly Beach Volleyball faces CSU Bakersfield at Swanson Beach Volleyball Complex on Friday, March 26, 2021. (MANDATORY CREDIT: Kyle Calzia / Mustang News) Credit: Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

Cal Poly Beach Volleyball (17-8) hosted the Center of Effort Challenge on April 16 and 17 at the Swanson Beach Volleyball Complex. The challenge featured five teams ranked in the AVCA top-10, including No. 6 Cal Poly, No. 1 UCLA, No. 2 USC, No. 5 Loyola Marymount, and No. 8 Grand Canyon. The Mustangs were defeated in three of the four matches they played.

No. 2 USC

The Mustangs opened the weekend against the USC Trojans (22-2). The Trojans swept the Mustangs 5-0, an identical result from their last meeting March 4.

The No. 5 pairing of freshman Sam Strah and redshirt sophomore Hannah Rogers fell in straight sets to the Trojans, 14-21 and 15-21. Redshirt sophomore Vanessa Roscoe and redshirt freshman Josie Ulrich were swept, 13-21 and 15-21, on the No. 4 court. 

Redshirt senior Amy Ozee and redshirt sophomore Jayelin Lombard couldn’t get anything going at the No. 2 court, falling 14-21 and 17-21. The No. 3 duo in redshirt junior Mariah Whalen and redshirt junior Tia Miric also fell in straight sets, 12-21 and 19-21.

The No. 1 pairing of redshirt senior Emily Sonny and redshirt junior Macy Gordon were unable to salvage a point for Cal Poly, falling 10-21 and 21-23.

No. 8 Grand Canyon (GCU)

After their opening match loss, Cal Poly turned its attention to the GCU Lopes (16-8). The Mustangs defeated the Lopes by the score of 3-2 for their sole win of the weekend.

The No. 1 pair of Sonny and Gordon grabbed the first point for Cal Poly after defeating GCU in straight sets, 21-17 and 21-18. The No. 2 duo of Ozee and Lombard won set one, 21-19, but dropped set two, 21-17. The duo finished off the victory in set three, winning 15-11.

The No. 5 pair of Roscoe and Ulrich dropped set one, 17-21, but bounced back to win set two, 21-19. In set three, the pair fell 18-20. At the No. 4 court, Strah and redshirt sophomore Eleonore Johansen won set one 21-18 and lost set two 12-21. The duo won set three 20-18, securing a victory for the Mustangs.

Whalen and Miric won set one at the No. 3 court, 21-14, but couldn’t hold on in sets two and three, falling 20-22 and 22-24.

No. 1 UCLA

Cal Poly opened day two against the top team in the country in UCLA (24-2). The Mustangs fell to the dominant Bruins 3-2.

Roscoe and Ulrich fell in straight sets at the No. 5 court, 10-21 and 8-21. The No. 4 pair of Strah and Johansen were also swept, 18-21 and 11-21.

Sonny and Gordon grabbed a sweep of their own, 21-16 and 21-19, to give the Mustangs a point. At the No. 3 court, Whalen and Miric won set one, 25-23, but could finish the Bruins off, falling 14-21 and 8-15 in sets two and three.

Lombard and Ozee grabbed a second point for the Mustangs on court No. 2 after they won in three sets, 21-19, 19-21 and 23-21.

No. 5 Loyola Marymount (LMU)

In their final match of the challenge, Cal Poly faced LMU (22-6). The Mustangs fell 3-2, finishing the weekend 1-3.

Lombard and Ozee swept the Lions on court No. 2, 14-21 and 14-21. The duo is 16-8 on the season and have won their last three matches.

Johansen moved to the No. 5 pair with freshman Piper Naess. The new pair fell in straight sets, 14-21 and 16-21.

The No. 3 pairing of Whalen and Miric were also swept by LMU, 17-21 and 15-21. They are an even 8-8 on the season, but have lost their last five matches together.

Sonny and Gordon grabbed a second point for the Mustangs at court No. 1, sweeping LMU 21-19 and 23-21. They improve to 18-6 on the season and are 7-3 in their last 10 matches.

Strah and redshirt sophomore Delaney Peranich fell in straight sets at the No. 4 court, 14-21 and 24-26, to give LMU their match-clinching victory. The duo is 0-2 when playing together this season.

In their final home matches of the season, Cal Poly will face Santa Clara and St. Mary’s on Saturday, April 24 inside the Swanson Beach Volleyball Complex.

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