Credit: Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

Cal Poly Volleyball extended their home winning streak to 30-straight games with an impressive sweep over rivals UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Nov. 9. inside Mott Athletics Center. The nation’s-best winning streak was defended in front of a crowd of nearly 3,000 people, according to Cal Poly Athletics.

“The Mott Magic is real,” head coach Caroline Walters said. “We’re fighting for a Big West Championship and for [the fans] to show up and have our backs, it definitely meant something tonight.” 

With the win, Cal Poly (17-7, 10-2 Big West) jumped UC Santa Barbara (19-4, 9-3 Big West) in the conference standings for sole possession of second-place. Hawai’i (21-3, 11-2 Big West) remain a half-game ahead of Cal Poly in first-place.

Sophomore Lea Ungar (4) and junior Madilyn Mercer embrace before the Mustangs’ sweep over the Gauchos on Nov. 9. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News
Sophomore Lea Ungar (4) and junior Madilyn Mercer embrace before the Mustangs’ sweep over the Gauchos on Nov. 9. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

Sophomore setter Avalon DeNecochea assisted the Mustangs’ initial three kills, which brought the first set’s score to 4-3. A kill from junior middle blocker Madilyn Mercer followed by back-to-back kills from senior outside hitter Jessica McRoskey pulled the Mustangs ahead to 7-4 as they began to take charge of the game. 

McRoskey went on to have a season-high performance, finishing 11 out of 14 attempted kills throughout the game.

“Avalon was putting up some great sets and I knew I had five people right behind me covering for me, so I was just going for it and trusting that they had my back,” McRoskey said.

The Mustangs went on to dominate the rest of the first set with a 13-8 run to bring the score to 20-12. The kill-streak included three kills from junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek and four from sophomore middle blocker Meredith Philips. DeNecochea continued her consistent form and assisted the next five points to secure the first-set victory.

The two teams traded points throughout the beginning of the second set until the score was tied at 9-9. The Mustangs eventually found their rhythm and went on an 8-3 scoring run to bring the set to 18-12. Three more kills from Dvoracek ended the second set for the Mustangs, who finished with a seven-kill lead at 25-18.

Junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek reacts the Mustangs taking a second-set lead over their rivals. Kyle Calzia | Mustang News

“Our expectation was just that we worry about our side of the court and play good volleyball and keep to what we’ve been working on in training,” Dvoracek said.

The final set started in favor of the Mustangs. A UC Santa Barbara service error followed by an attack error put Cal Poly at 2-0 within the opening minutes. McRoskey stepped up again and secured four out of the following nine kills to bring the set to 9-5.

McRoskey went on to end the match with a .714 hitting percentage.

“For an attacker in volleyball, that’s pretty unheard of,” Walters said. “[I am] pleased overall with [McRoskey’s] vision… her ability to take big swings when even when the set wasn’t perfect, so really good managing of the game overall by her.” 

DeNecochea and Dvoracek linked up four more times in the final set to bring the score to 21-17. The final set was DeNecochea’s best of the evening as she secured 13 assists. The setter assisted three of the final four kills, including the match-point finished off by McRoskey.

“Everything we do is for the team,” DeNecochea said. “All the wins, all the work, it just really comes together on game-nights like these.”

The Mustangs will be on the road for back-to-back games against CSUN on Friday, Nov. 15 and Long Beach State on Saturday, Nov. 16.

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