One week after recording the best start in program history, the Cal Poly volleyball team lost to Hawaii in a thrilling 3-2 match. The Rainbow Wahine not only extinguished The Mustangs’ 18 game winning streak, but also ended their 26 match winning streak against Big West Conference opponents dating back to last season.
The match in Stan Sheriff Center was Hawaii ‘s first victory against a nationally-ranked opponent since 2015 and broke their 13-match losing streak to ranked opponents. Cal Poly (19-2, 9-1 Big West) and Hawaii (14-6, 10-1) are now tied for first place in the Big West Conference. The loss dropped Cal Poly’s national ranking to No. 17.
Hawaii senior outside hitter Mckenna Granato was a key player in the Rainbow Wahine’s offense with a team-high 17 kills. The Mustangs were led by junior outside hitter Torrey Van Winden’s match-high of 21 kills and senior libero Katherine Brouker’s match-high of 27 digs.
In the first set, the Mustangs brought the heat, winning 25-14. However, the Mustangs could not keep up the momentum moving into the second set, as Hawaii senior setter Faith Ma’afala went on a four point serving run to put the Rainbow Wahine ahead 21-16. The Mustangs were unable to recover and lost 25-19.
Aggressions started heating up in the third set when Hawaii took a 7-2 lead, but the Mustangs caught up to tie the set at 10-10. Both Brouker and Torrey Van Winden led the way, each serving five times in a row. Cal Poly broke the tie with a 6-1 run and eventually won the set 25-17. The Mustangs executed eight blocks throughout the set, holding Hawaii to a .000 hitting percentage.
In the fourth set, Cal Poly could not keep up with the Hawaii, who took an early 7-3 lead. Eventually, the Mustangs were able to tie the game at 13-13, and both teams traded points until the Rainbow Wahine took an 18-17 lead. The Mustangs’ defensive efforts fell short, and they lost the set 25-18.
In the match-deciding fifth set, the race to 15 points was intense with high stakes on the line. The teams traded points for a 9-9 tie. The Rainbow Wahine then found their groove, shutting down the Mustangs with a 6-1 run to complete a 15-10 win for the match victory.
Cal Poly will look to recover as they host the Big West Conference’s third place team, UC Irvine (14-8, 8-2), Tuesday, Oct. 30 in Mott Athletics Center at 7 p.m.