SAN LUIS OBISPO – Sophomore middle blocker Taylor Gruenewald (right) chalked up a match-leading 16 kills and freshman Raeann Greisen finished with 15, but the Cal Poly volleyball program – after earning an opening-set victory against Hawai'i Saturday evening – dropped the next three games and suffered a 21-25, 25-22, 25-12, 25-16 defeat inside Mott Athletics Center.
Junior libero Nicole Kessler added a match-leading 25 digs for Cal Poly (9-16, 4-11), which limited Hawai'i (19-6, 11-3) to a .236 hitting percentage, but swung for a .095 clip themselves. Hawai'i, which retained second place in the Big West standings with Saturday's win but lost a chance at a share of the conference title after champion Long Beach State (24-4, 14-0) swept UC Riverside, totaled 35 combined blocks.
Cal Poly closes the 2014 season versus Blue-Green rival UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday, Nov. 26. First serve inside Mott Athletics Center is 7 p.m.
Saturday's opening set featured 14 tied scorelines and five lead changes, the last of which was secured by Cal Poly at 13-12 following a kill from freshman setter Taylor Nelson. The Rainbow Wahine tied Cal Poly three more times before the Mustangs, fueled by successive Gruenewald kills, ripped off a 4-0 run to go up 20-16. Cal Poly, which received six kills by Gruenewald in the set, led by multiple points the remainder of the game.
Cal Poly and Hawai'i traded the lead six additional times in set No. 2 before the Rainbow Wahine compiled an 8-1 run to grab a 19-14 advantage. Gruenewald produced six more kills in the second set, but Cal Poly drew no closer than a 22-21 deficit.
The Mustangs returned in the third set to record the opening point, but Hawai'i claimed the next 10 including seven through blocks. The Rainbow Wahine, who enjoyed 20 combined blocks in set No. 3, quickly went up by double digits after limiting Cal Poly to a -.098 hitting mark during the game.
The Rainbow Wahine then led for the entirety of the fourth set to claim the match victory.
Nelson finished with 36 assists for Cal Poly.
Photo courtesy of Owen Main, Fansmanship.com