A little over midway into the season, the Cal Poly Women’s Beach Volleyball team sits at a 19-8 (5-1 conference) record and are ranked No. 7 in the nation by the AVCA Poll.
The Mustangs opened their season ranked No. 6 in the nation. However, they started their season with three consecutive losses against then No. 1 UCLA, No. 7 LSU and No. 3 Florida State.
“Losing early definitely led us to be super hungry the rest of the season,” senior Crissy Jones said.
“It was a little bit rough to start the season off with down energy, but we came back and won the next several,” head coach Todd Rogers said.
After that three-game stretch, the Mustangs went on a three-game winning streak of their own. Cal Poly convincingly beat then ranked No. 9 South Carolina and No. 18 Tulane 4-1 in the Hilton-Tallahassee State Capitol Invitational. They capped off the invitational defeating Tampa 5-0.
After starting the season 3-3, Cal Poly traveled to face No. 13 Loyola Marymount and No. 5 Pepperdine. Cal Poly dropped their first match to Loyola Marymount 4-1 and narrowly lost 3-2 to Pepperdine.
The Mustangs rebounded from the 3-5 record with a ten-game win streak. During this streak, the Mustangs gained redemption by defeating Loyola Marymount 3-2. They beat No. 20 TCU 3-2 as well. Of the 10 games, Cal Poly swept six teams by winning 5-0 in each contest.
“Everyone has come together and coalesced as a unit,” Rogers said.
“Getting excited for little victories and big victories that we get along the way has really helped our team to fight hard and win some big games,” Jones said.
This season Cal Poly hosted the Big West Challenge on their home court, Pismo Beach. During the six-game tournament, Cal Poly went 5-1, only losing to No. 9 Big West rival Long Beach State.
This season became a historic season after the Mustangs defeated No. 6 Hawai’i 3-2 for the first time in its six-year program history on Mar. 31 at Pismo Beach.
“We had a loss before so going into it we were super angry,” Jones said. “We channeled that to something great and it was just a moment that I will never forget.”
Cal Poly’s first pairing of sophomore Tia Miric and senior Crissy Jones gave the Mustangs a 1-0 lead after getting 21-13 and 21-12 wins over Emily Maglio and Amy Ozee. The Mustangs’ No. 2 pairing of sophomore Macy Gordon and junior Emily Sonny put Cal Poly up 2-0 with only one more win to seal the match. Hawaii responded with two wins in the third and fourth pairings. The last pairing of senior Samantha Manley and freshman Delaney Peranich came down to a third set where the pairing won 15-11 to clinch the victory against Hawaii.
“A lot of girls have stepped up their game playing what normally would have been penciled in at a No. 4 or No.5 level but have played up at a No. 2 or No.3 level,” Rogers said.
Cal Poly moved on to extend their new winning streak to six consecutive games, but have exchanged wins and losses since then. The Mustangs dropped matches 4-1 to both No. 14 Arizona and No. 5 Pepperdine, but won 3-2 over both Arizona State and No. 12 Cal.
Before heading to the Big West Tournament in Malibu on Friday, April 26, Cal Poly will play its final games of the season starting Thursday, April 18 against No. 2 USC and No. 15 Grand Canyon. The Mustangs then play No. 20 Stanford and No. 11 Cal on Saturday, April 20.