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Cal Poly Falls to UCSB 3-1, Drops First Conference Match of the Season

Cal Poly Falls to UCSB 3-1, Drops First Conference Match of the Season

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Despite a match-high 19 kills from junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek, the Cal Poly volleyball team dropped its first conference match of the season Saturday night, falling to UCSB on the road, 3-1 (25-19, 25-21, 15-25, 25-21) in the Thunderdome.

With the loss, the Mustangs (13-6, 6-1 BW) move into a tie for first-place in the Big West with the Gauchos (16-2, 6-1 BW). However, UCSB currently owns the tiebreaker. The loss for Cal Poly also snaps a streak of 12 consecutive conference wins dating back to last season.

Junior middle blocker Madilyn Mercer, sophomore middle blocker Meredith Phillips, and senior outside hitter Jessica McRoskey each added eight kills for the Mustangs. Senior libero Mika Dickson finished with a match-high 17 digs and sophomore setter Avalon DeNecochea had a match-high 44 assists to go with nine digs.

The Gauchos outhit Cal Poly .191 to .184 for the match and also led in total blocks 13 to seven.

UCSB opened the first set by getting out to a 9-3 lead. After Cal Poly cut the lead to 9-6, the Gauchos went on a 4-1 run to go up 13-7. The Mustangs then cut it to 14-10 before a 6-2 run by UCSB gave them a 20-12 lead. Cal Poly responded with a 4-1 run to get it to within five points at 21-16. At 24-17, the Mustangs held off two set points before a UCSB kill finished off the set 25-19.

The second set was back-and-forth early with both teams trading points. Tied at 11, UCSB used a 4-1 run to go up 15-12. Cal Poly then responded with three straight points to tie it at 15. With the Mustangs leading 19-18, the Gauchos scored five consecutive points to take a 23-19 lead and went on to win the set 25-21.

Tied at five in the third set, Cal Poly scored three straight points to go up 8-5. UCSB responded with five unanswered points to regain the lead at 10-8. Down 11-12, the Mustangs scored eight straight points to take a 19-12 lead. Cal Poly continued its strong play from there, finishing the set on a 6-3 run to win it 25-15.

The teams traded small runs early with neither team holding a lead more than three. With UCSB leading 8-7, the Gauchos went on a 5-2 run to take a 13-9 lead and later extended it to 16-10. The Mustangs rallied to cut the lead to as little as three points at 23-20 before UCSB went on to win the set 25-21.

Cal Poly will look to bounce back next week when they hit the road for two conference matches. The Mustangs will start on Thursday against UC Riverside and follow that with a trip to UC Davis to take on the Aggies on Saturday.