Lizzy Markovska (right) led the Mustangs in kills on Tuesday. Credit: Kayla Stuart | Mustang News, 2022

Cal Poly volleyball won a five-set, back-and-forth war over CSU Bakersfield on the back of redshirt freshman Lizzy Markovska’s career-high 15 kills on Thursday, Oct. 11 inside the Icardo Center.

The Mustangs’ (9-8, 6-1 Big West) five-set match against the Roadrunners (5-13, 2-4) saw close, alternating sets: 21-25, 25-21, 24-25, 25-21, 15-13. The win extended the Mustangs’ win streak to four straight.  

Cal Poly jumped out to a quick 5-2 lead in the first set but was immediately met with a 7-1 answer from the Roadrunners, who did not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the set, winning 25-21. The Mustangs mounted a comeback when they were down 22-14, fighting to make it 22-21 – a precursor to what the Tuesday night battle had in store. 

The second set had 15 ties and six lead changes until the Mustangs broke it open with a 6-2 run after being tied at 16-16. Again, the trailing team scratched their way back into the set when the Roadrunners went on a 3-1 run to make the score 22-20. 

This time, however, it was Cal Poly that ended the comeback effort, finishing the set on a 3-1 run of their own, winning 25-21. 

Set three was the only lopsided victory in the match. Bakersfield had an 11-2 run and a 10-2 run, winning 25-14. 

It seemed the momentum wouldn’t stop for the Roadrunners as they opened the fourth set on a 4-0 run. However, Cal Poly wasn’t ready to lay down, responding with a 14-4 run. 

Bakersfield countered with a haymaker, closing the gap to a 20-19 Cal Poly lead. The Mustangs held it off, winning 25-21, and to a fifth set, they went. 

The race to 15 played out just like the previous three sets, with both teams mounting runs while the other held firm, waiting for their turn. 

The Roadrunners gained a 5-2 lead before the Mustangs responded with an 8-2 run to lead 10-6. Not shaken at all, the Roadrunners answered with a 7-3 run of their own to knot the game up at 13-13. 

Senior right-side hitter Maia Dvoracek had the first kill. Then the game was fittingly ended by a Markovska booming kill to give Cal Poly the hard-fought victory, 15-13. 

The Roadrunners out-killed (59-49), out-aced (14-8), out-assisted (54-45), and had a higher hitting percentage by 2.6 percentage points over the Mustangs.

Dvoracek had her tenth double-double of the season as redshirt sophomore outside hitter Tommi Stockham had her seventh, along with 14 kills and a season-high 16 digs. Redshirt freshman setter Emme Bullis also turned in a solid performance, dishing out 36 assists.

The Mustangs will be back in action on Saturday, Oct. 15 with a tie for first place in the Big West on the line as the top-seeded Hawaii Rainbow Wahine make the trip to Mott Athletic Center at 7 p.m.