Cal Poly women’s volleyball team (16-6, 6-3 Big West) rallied back to defeat Cal State Northridge 3-2, but referees, coaches, and the official record keepers scrambled to find the correct score for ten minutes in the waning moments of a critical third set.
A mix up by Cal Poly initiated the controversy, when junior Lauren Law served out of turn with the score tied at 23. The Mustangs appeared to win the point, which was reflected on the scoreboard.
However, after furious debate between the Matador coaching staff and the referees, scoring officials correctly gave the Matadors a game point at 24-23.
Yet all the confusion caused Northridge to send up the incorrect server, giving a point to the Mustangs, tying the set at 24.
Frustrated, Northridge head coach Jeff Shark simply asked the scorer to tell him which player should serve to avoid any further confusion.
The Matadors went on to win the set 29-27 after senior Dominique Olowolafe was blocked at the net. However, the Mustangs recovered to win the final two sets for the win.
In reference to the scoring mix up, Cal Poly head coach Jon Stevenson said volleyball has unique rules governing the sport and errors happen.
“I haven’t seen it quite like that,” Stevenson said. “But if we had lost, I wouldn’t have blamed it on the scorekeeper.”
Overall, Stevenson said he was not happy about his team’s performance.
“We are capable of being one of the best teams in the country and we’re just not showing it,” he said. “So it’s very frustrating, even in victory, when you don’t play your best.”
His discontent stemmed from the fact that the Mustangs hit .174 over the game with 63 kills and 33 errors. The Matadors hit slightly worse at .118.
Freshman Kristina Graven lead the team in kills with 25 and added 11 digs for a double-double. With a bandaged right hand from a break suffered earlier in the season, Olowolafe struggled over the first three sets as the Matadors challenged her with two defenders every time the six foot middle blocker went up for a strike.
She started to hit a groove in the fourth set when coach Stevenson said he told junior setter Sarah Cawrse to use Olowolafe as a decoy. The confusion at the net allowed Olowolafe to rack up five kills in the fourth set leading the Mustangs to a 25-16 win, pushing the match to a decisive fifth set.
Middle blocker Jennifer Keddy led the Mustangs to a 15-12 victory in the final set with four kills. Coming into the game, the Mustangs had lost three consecutive five set matches. Natalie Allen led the Matadors with 14 kills and 12 digs, although she hit only .111 due to nine errors.
Stevenson said he hopes that a different team takes the court against UC Irvine in Mott Gym on Saturday night.
“A totally different team should show up tomorrow,” he said. “One that is passionate about winning, one that cares about their teammates, first and foremost, a team that is just dying to win, dying to play their very best. That’s the team that needs to show up. If that team shows up we’ll do very well.”