No. 65 Cal Poly women’s tennis fell to No. 25 UC Santa Barbara by a score of 4-1 in the last match of the regular season to decide the Big West regular-season title on Saturday, Apr. 23 in Mustang Tennis Complex.

This is the Mustangs’ (15-6, 8-1 Big West) first Big West loss and first home loss throughout the entire season. Despite that, Cal Poly finished with the most wins since their 2011 season.

Meanwhile, the Gauchos (17-6, 9-0 Big West) ended their strong season with an undefeated conference record. 

This defeat was only the second loss for Cal Poly since Mar. 6. In that time, the Mustangs won 10 matches, beating ranked opponents Hawaii (No. 75) and Cal State Fullerton (No. 64). The two losses were against high-ranked opponents in No. 18 USC and No. 25 UC Santa Barbara.

The doubles matches finished in order to start the day. The No. 1 duo of redshirt juniors Emily Ackerman and Kim Bhunu lost 6-4. The two ended the season with a 14-6 record, going 8-2 in their last 10 matches.

At No. 2, redshirt sophomores Delanie Dunkle and Melissa LaMette fell 6-3. They ended the season 10-4, with the final loss being their only defeat in their last five matches. The No. 3 duo of graduate Laura Bente and freshman Peyton Dunkle did not finish their match, since the Gauchos clinched the point at No. 1 and 2. 

Bente and Peyton Dunkle’s match was at 5-4 when the point was clinched. The two ended the season 9-1 as a pairing and went undefeated (6-0) in Big West play.

Moving to singles play, UC Santa Barbara took a 2-0 lead after Ackerman lost 6-2, 6-1 at No. 4. 

At No. 6, Peyton Dunkle scored the lone point for Cal Poly with a 6-3, 6-1 win. She had a standout freshman year, going 14-3 and winning every Big West match.

Her sister, No. 5 Delanie Dunkle, battled in her singles match but dropped 6-4, 6-3. 

The Gauchos secured the victory at No. 3, where LaMette went three sets, but fell 6-7 (4-7), 6-1, 6-3. No. 1 Bhunu and No. 2 Bente did not finish their sets. Bhunu was tied 6-6 in the third set and Bente was tied 6-6 in set two.

The Mustangs will compete in the Big West Conference Tournament from Thursday, Apr. 28 to Saturday, Apr. 30 at the Barnes Tennis Center in San Diego, Calif. 

Cal Poly will enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed after the loss to the Gauchos, who will be the top seed.