Andrew Epperson | Mustang News

The Cal Poly volleyball team took all of 1 hour and 29 minutes to send UC Riverside home with a 3-0 loss Saturday night at Mott Gym.

The Mustangs (14-4, 6-1 Big West) went to work early in the match, converting 13 kills without an error in a 25-7 win in the first set. Freshman outside hitter Adlee Van Winden had four of her 18 kills in the opening set, and the Mustangs never trailed.

Similar to last weekend’s match against UC Santa Barbara, the Mustangs had some trouble in the second set. After going up 8-3 following a block by senior outside hitter Hannah Schleis, Cal Poly let the Highlanders (6-14, 1-6) back in the game, tying the score at 12 and later holding on to a 23-22 lead. But Schleis slammed the set-winning kill to make it 26-24 and give the Mustangs the pivotal set win.

That would be the closest the Highlanders would come to winning a set against the Mustangs.

Van Winden knocked another three kills early on in the third set as Cal Poly opened up an 8-2 lead. From there, the Mustangs maintained that margin and won 25-19 on a kill by junior middle blocker Taylor Gruenewald.

The win was the eighth sweep on the season for the Mustangs and the fourth in their last six games.

UC Riverside was unable to attack consistently against Cal Poly, posting a .194 kill percentage for the whole game. Much of that had to do with personnel; the Mustangs’ starting six of Gruenewald, Schleis, Van Winden, sophomores middle blocker Savannah Niemen, libero Bailey Roach and setter Taylor Nelson are an average of 6 feet tall. In contrast, the Highlanders’ starters averaged out at 5-foot-9, and had problems converting attacks against an unrelenting defensive effort by the Mustangs.

This win marks the sixth in a row for the Mustangs and maintains their perfect record in October. The Mustangs have gone a combined 18-2 in their past six matches to make a strong statement in conference play.

“The team is certainly feeling confident on what they can do on the court,” head coach Sam Crosson said. “Every match for us is different, and it’s good to see they can go into each match and not change how we play depending on who the opponent is.”

With the win, the Mustangs maintain their second-place standing in the Big West Conference.

Cal Poly volleyball looks to continue its run of dominance in road games against CSUN and Long Beach State next Friday and Saturday, respectively.

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