Cal Poly Volleyball was back in action at the Sun Devil Volleyball Classic after over a year and a half since their last game as a team. The Mustangs were a part of the two day tournament at Arizona State from Friday, Aug. 27 to Saturday, Aug. 28 inside Desert Financial Arena and left with a record of 1-2.

Friday

Game 1

On the opening match of the tournament, the Mustangs fell to #13 Louisville 0-3 (25-23, 25-21, 26-24).

Cal Poly (1-2) didn’t have much of a warm up to the season, playing their first match against a nationally ranked opponent in Louisville (2-0). However, the Mustangs did not seem intimidated, as they played a highly competitive match and held a lead in both the first and third sets. 

In the first set, Cal Poly held their largest lead of the day with a 19-14 edge over the Cardinals. That lead was squandered after a 9-2 run put the Cardinals ahead 23-21. After two straight points by the Mustangs, Louisville scored two straight points of their own to take the first set. 

In the second set the closest Cal Poly got to holding a lead was a tie at nine apiece. However, they were only down by two points, 23-21, in a mirror image situation of the first set. Louisville then put together consecutive points to get to 25 and win the set. 

Similar to the rest of the match, the third set was back and forth. After a three point run by Cal Poly, the Mustangs took a 24-21 lead and were one point from winning the set. However, Louisville had other plans as they won five straight points to take the set 26-24, and the match 3-0. 

Junior setter Avalon DeNecochea filled up the stat sheet, recording 35 assists, eight digs, three blocks and two kills. Junior middle blocker Meredith Phillips paced the team in blocks in the match with five. 

Tying her career high in kills in the match with 12 was redshirt sophomore outside hitter Nicole Cavote. Meanwhile, freshman libero Peyton Dueck led the team with 16 digs. The team as a whole totaled 41 kills and 23 errors, all while hitting .143 in the match. 

Game 2

In their second match of the day, Cal Poly took on the host of the tournament, Arizona State (2-0). 

Even after their first match Cal Poly did not lose their competitive edge. The Mustangs only lost the second match by a total of 12 points. 

In the first set, Cal Poly faced an early deficit of 11-6. The Mustangs fought back, cutting the Sun Devil lead to four with the score at 23-19. The Mustangs then made a late rally, getting the score within two at 24-22. However, a final point by Arizona State won them the set 25-22. 

The second match it was a fight for every point. The Mustangs held a slight lead at 15-14 before Arizona State went on a 5-1 run to go up 19-16. The Sun Devils ended up taking the set 25-19, after finishing on a 6-2 run. 

After Cal Poly jumped out to an early lead 9-4 in the final set, a 5-1 run from Arizona State left the score tied at 13. Later, the Mustangs were the first to score 20 after breaking a 19-19 tie. However, Arizona State countered with five straight points of their own. Cal Poly would tack on two more points before the Sun Devils closed the door on the comeback, winning the third set 25-22. 

Phillips was the offensive leader in this match, putting up 11 kills in the three sets. A pair of redshirt players, senior outside hitter Jamie Stivers and freshman outside hitter Tommi Stockham, recorded nine kills apiece in the match. Stivers and Dueck lead the team with 13 digs a piece. Stockham also chipped in two aces and three blocks. DeNecochea also had another strong outing with 29 assists, five digs, four kills, and two blocks.

Saturday

The Mustangs came out to Saturday’s game against Texas A&M – Corpus Christi (0-3) like they had something to prove.

Cal Poly won with ease, as they swept the Islanders 3-0 (25-8, 25-19, 25-17). Efficiency was the name of the game for the Mustangs, as they had a hitting percentage of .300 while holding their opponent to just .022 hitting. 

The first set opened up with the Islanders taking a quick lead, 6-3. From there it was all Mustangs. Cal Poly caught on fire, scoring nine straight points to take control of the set. Then, after a point by the Islanders, Cal Poly scored another twelve consecutive points. In the end, the Mustangs finished the set on a 22-2 run to win 25-8.

The second set saw the Islanders play a lot more competitively, as both teams traded points until it was tied at 11. The Mustangs then went on a run to take a comfortable lead, but the Islanders would cut the lead to just four at 21-17. However, three straight points to end the match would give Cal Poly the set, 25-19. 

The third set was a bit of a roller coaster. It started out with some back and forth play until Cal Poly established a 16-9 lead. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi, however, did not go away and had a 6-0 run to cut the lead to just one. However, that was the closest they got to a lead, as Cal Poly went on a run to secure the set 25-17. 

Stockham and Phillps led the way with double digit kills, recording 12 and 11, respectively. Phillips also had zero attacking errors in the match, along with a team high seven blocks. Junior defensive specialist Lea Ungar led the team with 11 digs, while Dueck had 10. 

Cal Poly will make their long awaited return to Mott Athletics Center Wednesday, Sept. 1 at 7:00PM when they take on the Texas A&M Aggies. The Mustangs will look to continue the longest active home winning streak in the NCAA, which currently sits at 32 games.

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