SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Behind a balanced attack that saw five Mustangs collect six or more kills, the Cal Poly volleyball team swept UC Santa Barbara Saturday night (25-13, 25-18, 25-19) in front of nearly 3,000 fans inside Mott Athletics Center for a crucial win to take sole possession of second place in the Big West standings.
The win for the Mustangs (17-7, 10-2 BW) moves them in front of the Gauchos (19-4, 9-3 BW) with Hawai'i holding on to a half-match lead for first place at 11-2. The victory also increases their nation's-best home winning streak to 30 consecutive matches.
Cal Poly was led on the night by junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek, who finished with a match-high 13 kills to go with eight digs and four service aces. Senior outside hitter Jessica McRoskey had her most efficient match of the season, picking up 11 kills while hitting a season-best .714. Junior middle blocker Madilyn Mercer added seven kills, hitting .500 to go with two blocks while sophomore middle blocker Meredith Phillips also had seven kills and a match-high four blocks. Senior outside hitter Nikki Jackson contributed six kills to go with three blocks. Sophomore setter Avalon DeNecochea dished out a match-high 37 assists while senior libero Mika Dickson led the defense with a match-high 10 digs.
The Mustangs beat UCSB in every statistical category, including out-blocking them 6-1 and out-hitting them .391 to .139. Cal Poly also held UCSB's senior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins, who leads the Big West in kills per set, to a season-low six kills on the night.
Cal Poly got out to a 7-4 lead to start the first set. The Mustangs then extended that lead to 14-6 thanks to a 7-2 run. From there, the Gauchos never got it closer than seven points as Cal Poly, who sided-out at an 85 percent clip in the set, went on to win the set handily, 25-13.
The second set was tightly contested early, with the score tied 9-9 through the first 18 points. Leading 11-10, the Mustangs used a 9-2 run to take a commanding 19-12 lead. The Gauchos cut the lead to as little as five at 21-16 before Cal Poly finished the set winning four of the next six points to take it 25-18.
The Mustangs saved their best set for last, hitting .400 in the third set and led the entire set. They started by getting out to an 8-3 lead. They then went up as many as eight at 16-8 before a 5-2 by the Gauchos trimmed the lead to 18-13. From there, UCSB slowly cut into Cal Poly's lead and eventually got it back to within three at 21-18. However, the Mustangs then shut the door with a 4-1 run to end the set and win it 25-19 to complete the sweep.
With just four matches remaining in the regular season, two at home and two on the road, Cal Poly will travel down south next weekend to face CSUN on Friday and Long Beach State on Saturday, both at 7 p.m. Friday's match against the Matadors will be aired live on ESPN3.
Photo courtesy of Owen Main