MISSOULA, Mont. – Sophomore middle blocker Taylor Gruenewald recorded a match-leading 21 kills against Washington State and freshman outside hitter Raeann Greisen chalked up a team-high 18 versus Wyoming, but the Cal Poly volleyball program dropped both ends of its Saturday doubleheader at the Montana Invitational, falling to the Cougars in five sets and the Cowgirls in four inside West Auxiliary Gym.
During Saturday's second match against Washington State (2-1), Cal Poly (1-2) captured the first two sets before faltering, 21-25, 21-25, 25-18, 25-20, 15-7. Alongside Gruenewald's 21 kills, Greisen recorded 14 versus Washington State while freshman setter Taylor Nelson enjoyed a career-best 49 assists.
Cal Poly led game No. 1 from the onset with three successive Washington State hitting errors handing the Mustangs an early 7-1 advantage. The Cougars, however, responded with a 5-1 run and eventually clawed to within a point of Cal Poly at 16-15, but six opening-set kills from Gruenewald helped the Mustangs to the 25-21 win.
The Mustangs trailed in game No. 2 just once and only during the opening three points. Four early kills from Gruenewald turned the deficit into an 8-4 advantage and the Mustangs – despite not leading by more than four points at any stretch – hit a match-best .389 to go up 2-0.
In hitting .391 in the third set, Washington State turned around an early deficit and led by as much as seven points three times to cut into Cal Poly's lead.
Neither side led by more than two points in set No. 4 until the 15th tied scoreline of the game at 19-19 was broken by the Cougars with a 6-1 run to tie the overall match at 2-2.
In the ascendency, Washington State ran out to a 9-3 lead in set No. 5 with Cal Poly closing its deficit to five points just once.
During Saturday's opening 25-22, 20-25, 25-20, 25-16 loss to Wyoming (2-0), the Cowgirls broke an early first-set deadlock with an 8-2 run to go up 10-5. The Mustangs failed to close within three points of Wyoming the remainder of the set and trailed by as much as eight points.
The Mustangs struck back in set No. 2 and, behind a match-best .314 hitting percentage, grabbed the game's third and final lead change at 7-6 following a Greisen kill. Greisen, who compiled seven kills in the set, produced three more to place the Mustangs up 16-12 en route to squaring the match at a set apiece.
Cal Poly, however, led just once more against Wyoming after recording the opening point of the third set. The Cowgirls, who hit .385 in the third set, quickly went up 9-5. Cal Poly, which received four kills from freshman outside hitter Hannah Mathiesen in the set to square things at 18-18, eventually conceded a 7-2 run to Wyoming to close the game.
Wyoming, which hit a match-best .414 in the fourth set, led the final game wire-to-wire en route to the 25-16 win and match victory.
Cal Poly closes its season-opening five-match road trip when facing Utah on Saturday, Sept. 6 and Saint Mary's on Sunday, Sept. 7. Saint Mary's will host both matches.