Cal Poly Volleyball secured its third straight Big West Conference win since falling to UC Santa Barbara with a 3-0 sweep over UC Riverside Tuesday, Oct. 20 inside Mott Athletic Center. The victory extended the Mustangs winning streak on home turf to 29 wins in a row.
“It feels great, I’m shocked every time I hear the number because, I say this every time, but it’s not something that we’re focused on,” head coach Caroline Walters said. “We’re focused on getting better each day and we’re focused on getting better each time we play a match.”
The first set started with each team trading kills. Mustang senior outside hitter Nikki Jackson produced the first kill with an assist from sophomore setter Avalon DeNecochea. DeNecochea was a constant threat throughout the night and registered 35 total assists in the match.
“This year, as opposed to last, [DeNecochea] is setting a much more consistent game with her location, so it makes our attackers’ job very easy when they know where that ball is gonna be time and time again,” Walters said.
The match remained neck and neck for much of the first set until the score was tied at 17-17. A set from DeNecochea found teammate senior outside hitter Jessica McRoskey for a Mustang kill to take the lead. The Mustangs carried out the rest of the set comfortably as a pair of kills from junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek and a set-winning ace concluded the set at 25-19.
Dvoracek kicked off the second set with three of Cal Poly’s eight initial kills to bring the score to 9-4. The Matadors stayed in the fight until the score reached 13-13. However, the Mustangs started to pull away as kills from Dvoracek and sophomore middle blocker Meredith Phillips brought the set to 24-18. The game point was decided by a service error from CSUN setter Kamalu Makekau-Whittaker. Dvoracek recorded eight total kills in the second set while DeNecochea acquired nine assists.
The Mustangs were in far more control in the third set and pulled ahead early through kills from Dvoracek and Jackson. The points were followed by an unanswered three kills from the Mustangs to put the set at 14-6.
“[Dvoracek] gets her feet to balls and swings on balls that I’ve not seen attackers swing on,” Walters said. “Tonight I thought she did really good job getting back to the basics from the service line… She got back to playing fearless volleyball tonight.”
Kills from Philips, Dvoracek, and McRoskey were flowing throughout the third set. Dvoracek picked up eight kills while McRoskey and Philips totaled two kills each.
“We’ve been working on more technical things in the gym and what we need to get better at as a team,” Dvoracek said. “We’re just focusing on small things little by little and working to make sure that we’re better in the next game.”
The Mustangs will travel to University of Hawai’i to face the Rainbow Wahine on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 7:00 p.m. The Mustangs host Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara the following weekend inside Mott Athletics Center.