Credit: Kayla Stuart | Mustang News, 2022

Cal Poly Volleyball closed out its season by going 1-1 over the weekend against UC Irvine and UC San Diego on Friday, Nov. 25 and Saturday, Nov. 26 inside Mott Athletics Center. 

The Mustangs (17-13, 14-6 Big West) close out the season in third place after a tightly contested four-set loss (25-21, 26-24, 23-25, 25-19) to UC Irvine and a 3-1 (25-20, 22-25, 25-20, 25-21) win over UC San Diego. 

Seniors opposite hitter Maia Dvoracek, middle blocker Meredith Phillips and setter Avalon DeNecochea were honored after their final game as Mustangs on Saturday.

Friday vs. UC Irvine

The matchup was tied for the early part of set one until UC Irvine went on a 7-2 run to take a 15-10 lead. Out of the timeout, back-to-back kills by redshirt freshman outside hitter Lizzy Markovksa made the set a three-point game. 

However, as back-and-forth play continued, the Mustangs couldn’t rally back and ultimately fell 25-21.

After Cal Poly earned the first two points of set two, the Anteaters went on a 6-0 run to take an early 6-2 advantage. The Mustangs bounced back with an 8-1 run of their own, recapturing the lead at 10-7.

With the score at 14-13 in favor of UC Irvine, the visiting team went on a four-point run followed by Cal Poly’s own 6-2 run to put the score at 19-17 with the Anteaters on top. 

Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Tommi Stockham stood out in the late-set battle with a block, a kill and an ace in the span of five points. The ace tied the score at 23-23, and a service error paired with a Dvoracek kill pushed the set to 24-24.

UC Irvine capitalized off of two attack errors for the 26-24 set-two victory.

In the third set, the Mustangs saw their first and only set win in what was narrowly a loss.

With Cal Poly up 19-14, UC Irvine went on a 5-1 run to bring the set within one point. Cal Poly then took a 24-20 lead, but the Anteaters clawed back to cut the lead to 24-23. However, a service error helped the Mustangs escape with a 25-23 win. 

Cal Poly could not build off the win, however, as they dropped the fourth and final set by a score of 25-19. The teams traded points throughout the set, but a 7-1 run and three straight points by the Anteaters clinched the win.

Dvoracek, in the final game of her dominant Mustang career, broke the Cal Poly single-season ace record on Friday with three aces to put her at 68 for the season. 

Saturday vs. UC San Diego

Cal Poly flipped the script from Friday night with a 3-1 victory over UC San Diego in the season finale and on senior night on Saturday.

In set one, Cal Poly led 11-10 before a four-point Triton run. Shortly after, at 17-16, Cal Poly rattled off five straight for a 21-17 advantage. 

UC San Diego fought back, but Cal Poly held strong for the 25-20 set-one victory.

Like many times this season, the Mustangs slowed down in set two. While they did not let UC San Diego dominate the set, Cal Poly narrowly dropped set two, 25-22. 

In set three, the Green and Gold were down 5-2 before scoring six straight within a 9-3 run to take an 11-8 lead. The Mustangs also pushed from a 12-12 tie to a 17-13 advantage and rode that lead to victory. 

Stockham and Dvoracek peppered the Tritons with kills for the 25-20 set-three victory.

Set four was a finish highlighted by performances by the seniors Dvoracek, Phillips and DeNecochea.

The set was tied at 13 apiece before a 7-2 run by Cal Poly put the team up by five. UC San Diego scrapped back and made the score 21-19 late. Shortly after, a Dvoracek kill made the score 24-20.

DeNecochea checked in on set point, and after a Dvoracek serve and a Triton return, DeNecochea set Phillips for the kill. All three seniors contributed to the final point of their careers. 

DeNecochea got her first start of the season on Saturday and finished with a team-high 25 assists.

The two other seniors, Dvoracek and Phillips, also had big nights. Dvoracek had a team-high 17 kills and two more aces to put the Cal Poly single-season ace record at 70. Phillips was a force up the middle with seven kills and four blocks.