SAN LUIS OBISPO – Freshman setter Taylor Nelson (right) recorded a team-best 15 kills and finished with 21 assists and 11 digs, but the Cal Poly volleyball program – leading Santa Clara after the third set – surrendered the final two games to the Broncos and dropped a 21-25, 25-12, 23-25, 25-20, 15-8 decision on Saturday evening inside Mott Athletics Center.
Sophomore middle blocker Taylor Gruenewald added 12 kills for Cal Poly (5-5), which earned 13 points off Santa Clara (10-3) serving errors, but hit just .135. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Cal Poly, which also wrapped up non-conference play versus the Broncos.
Neither side led Saturday's opening set by more than three points until Cal Poly – which grabbed the game's only lead change at 18-17 following a Santa Clara attacking error – closed with a 10-4 run. The Mustangs hit a match-best .320 in the first set.
Cal Poly led set No. 2 just briefly before a 12-6 run by Santa Clara provided the Broncos a 14-7 lead. Santa Clara, which hit a match-leading .448 against just one error in the set, opened up a double-digit lead at 20-10 en route to the 13-point win.
In the third set, Cal Poly broke the seventh and final deadlocked scoreline with a Gruenewald kill to go up 23-22. Nelson enjoyed seven kills in the set for Cal Poly, which utilized a Santa Clara hitting error and a kill from middle blocker Savannah Niemen down the stretch to go up 2-1.
Cal Poly, however, led just once in game No. 4 with Santa Clara compiling four successive points to grab a 9-5 lead. The Mustangs closed to within three points of Santa Clara's lead three times the remainder of the game, but failed to close the gap.
Santa Clara, which hit .345 against just one kill in the final game, led wire-to-wire.
Cal Poly opens its 21st season of Big West Conference action when visiting Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.