SAN LUIS OBISPO – Outside hitter Raeann Greisen recorded a team-leading 18 kills and fellow freshman Savannah Niemen (right) chalked up a career-best 14 kills as the Cal Poly volleyball program earned its first Big West Conference victory of 2014 with a 25-21, 23-25, 25-23, 25-19 triumph against UC Riverside inside Mott Athletics Center on Saturday evening.
Freshman middle blocker Caihla Petiprin added 11 kills for Cal Poly (6-7, 1-2), which snapped a three-match slide by holding last-place UC Riverside (3-12, 0-3) to a .171 hitting mark. Junior libero Nicole Kessler chipped in with a match-leading 22 digs as Cal Poly bested UC Riverside inside Mott Athletics Center for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons.
Keyed by seven first-set kills by Niemen, Cal Poly broke the ninth deadlocked scoreline of the opening game as a kill from sophomore middle blocker Taylor Gruenewald placed the Mustangs up 17-16. The Mustangs then received three kills from Niemen down the stretch to snatch the opening set.
Despite hitting a match-best .360 with just three errors, Cal Poly failed to lead at any point during the second set. Trailing 12-8, the Mustangs received kills from Greisen and Petiprin to help square the game. UC Riverside, which hit .235 with eight errors in the set, then ripped off a 4-0 run and Cal Poly failed to close to within two points of the Highlander lead down the stretch.
The Mustangs opened set No. 3 with a 5-2 lead before conceding a 6-2 run to fall behind. Still trailing at 22-20, Cal Poly witnessed three successive UC Riverside hitting errors to grab the last of six lead changes during the set. Two kills by Greisen then finished off UC Riverside.
Neither side led set No. 4 by more than three points until a Gruenewald kill put Cal Poly up 21-17. UC Riverside twice closed to within three points, but a Greisen kill allowed Cal Poly to close the set and match victory.
Cal Poly opens a two-match road trip when visiting Cal State Fullerton on Friday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m.