Credit: Kayla Stuart | Mustang News, 2021

Cal Poly volleyball began their season by falling in both of their matchups in the Utah State Tournament inside the Waynes Estes Center on Friday, Aug. 26 and Saturday, Aug. 27.

The Mustangs (0-2) opened the year with a four-set loss to Utah State on Friday and a three-set sweep to UCLA on Saturday.

Game One vs. Utah State

Cal Poly dropped its season opener 3-1 (19-25, 25-27, 25-20, 25-27) to Utah State on Friday, Aug. 26.

This was just the second meeting between the Mustangs and the Aggies, with Cal Poly winning in their last match in 2018.

In the opening set, the two squads exchanged points until drawing even at 8-8. Utah State rallied off five straight points to pull ahead 13-8. The Mustangs battled back to pull within three points of the Aggies, 22-19, but Utah State scored three consecutive points to close out the first set, 25-19.

The back-and-forth affair bled into the second set, resulting in a 21-21 stalemate late in the set. After three straight points for the Mustangs, they found themselves in a set-point situation. However, Utah State ended the set on a 6-1 run to steal the set from Cal Poly, 27-25, and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the game.

Looking to spark a comeback, Cal Poly found itself in an early 6-4 hole in the third set. The Mustangs then put together an 8-0 run to surge ahead 12-6. The two teams exchanged points to a 23-14 halt before the Aggies scored six straight points to make it 23-20. Cal Poly scored the last two points of the set to win the third set, 25-20.

In the fourth set, the evenly-matched squads traded blows to an even 21-21. After the Aggies scored three straight points to pull ahead 21-24, the Mustangs compiled a 4-0 run to give themselves a set-point opportunity at 25-24. Utah State scored the final three points to steal another set win, 27-25, and the game, 3-1.

Despite dropping the game, Cal Poly outplayed Utah State in kills (55-54), blocks (14-10), assists (54-53) and digs (59-58).

Senior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek finished with a team-high 15 kills and a career-high 17 digs in her return after missing last season due to injury. Senior outside hitter Meredith Phillips tallied nine kills to go with seven blocks.

Redshirt freshman setter Emme Bullis recorded 43 assists and six blocks in her first career match.

Game Two vs. No. 12 UCLA

Cal Poly volleyball suffered a three-set sweep (17-25, 21-25, 18-25) from No. 12 UCLA to end their run in the Utah State Tournament on Saturday, Aug. 27.

The Mustangs are now 2-2 all-time against the Bruins. Cal Poly won the previous two matchups during the 2018 season.

In the opening set, Cal Poly held a narrow 12-10 lead thanks to a 5-0 Mustang run. The Bruins would follow with a 10-1 run to power ahead, 20-13. The two sides exchanged points to end the set with UCLA capturing the win, 25-17.

Looking to bounce back in set two, the Mustangs battled to a 21-21 standstill. UCLA compiled four straight points to finish off Cal Poly, 25-21, to take command of the match with a 2-0 lead.

In the third set, UCLA dominated, storming out to a 16-8 lead. Cal Poly battled to shrink the Bruin lead to 23-18, but UCLA pulled away to win the set, 25-18, and cap off the three-set sweep.

The Bruins led the Mustangs in kills (25-43), aces (6-7), assists (24-42) and digs (29-38). The two squads each had 10 blocks, respectively.

Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Tommi Stockham led Cal Poly offensively with 11 kills. Dvoracek followed with five kills, three aces and seven digs.

Bullis dished out 20 assists to go with a team-high 10 digs.

Cal Poly will look to capture their first win of the early season in their next match against Utah Valley on Monday, Aug. 29 in Orem, Utah.