Volleyball opens season with two losses in Utah State tournament

Cal Poly volleyball started its season falling in its two matchups in the Utah State Tournament at Waynes Estes Center on Friday, August 26 and Saturday, August 27.

The Mustangs (0-2) opened the year with a four-set loss to Utah State on Friday and a three-set sweep to UCLA on Saturday.

First game against Utah State

Cal Poly lost its season opener 3-1 (19-25, 25-27, 25-20, 25-27) to Utah State on Friday, August 26.

It was only the second meeting between the Mustangs and the Aggies, with Cal Poly winning in their last game in 2018.

In the first set, the two teams traded points until they tied at 8-8. Utah State rallied five straight points to take a 13-8 lead. The Mustangs fought back to shoot within three points of the Aggies, 22-19, but Utah State scored three straight to close the first set, 25-19.

The back-and-forth affair bled in the second set, resulting in a 21-21 stalemate late in the set. After three straight points for the Mustangs, they found themselves in a set-point situation. However, Utah State finished the set on a 6-1 run to steal the set from Cal Poly, 27-25, and take a 2-0 lead in the game.

Seeking to spark a comeback, Cal Poly found themselves in a 6-4 first hole in the third set. The Mustangs then rode an 8-0 streak to take a 12-6 lead. The two teams traded points for a 23-14 stoppage before the Aggies scored six straight points to make it 23-20. Cal Poly scored the final two points of the set to win the third set, 25-20.

In the fourth set, the even teams traded blows at 21-21. After the Aggies scored three straight runs to take a 21-24 lead, the Mustangs compiled a 4-0 streak to give themselves a scoring opportunity at 25-24. Utah State scored the final three points to steal another set win, 27-25, and the game, 3-1.

Despite dropping out of the game, Cal Poly topped Utah State in kills (55-54), blocks (14-10), assists (54-53), and digs (59-58).

Senior outside forward Maia Dvoracek finished with a team-high 15 kills and a career-high 17 digs in her return after missing last season through injury. Senior outside hitter Meredith Phillips had nine kills to go with seven blocks.

Redshirt freshman setter Emme Bullis recorded 43 assists and six blocks in her first career game.

Game 2 against No. 12 UCLA

Cal Poly Volleyball suffered a three-set sweep (17-25, 21-25, 18-25) from No. 12 UCLA to end its run in the Utah State Tournament on Saturday August 27.

The Mustangs are now 2-2 against the Bruins. Cal Poly won the previous two matchups during the 2018 season.

In the first set, Cal Poly held a narrow 12-10 lead thanks to a 5-0 Mustang run. The Bruins would follow with a 10-1 run to take a 20-13 lead. The two teams traded points to end the set with UCLA taking the win, 25-17.

Looking to bounce back in the second set, the Mustangs battled to a 21-21 stoppage. UCLA compiled four straight points to finish Cal Poly, 25-21, to take command of the game with a 2-0 lead.

In the third set, UCLA dominated, taking a 16-8 lead. Cal Poly battled to cut the Bruins’ lead to 23-18, but UCLA pulled back to win the set, 25-18, and cap the three-set sweep.

The Bruins led the Mustangs in kills (25-43), aces (6-7), assists (24-42) and digs (29-38). Both squads had 10 blocks each, respectively.

Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Tommi Stockham led Cal Poly offensively with 11 kills. Dvoracek followed with five kills, three aces and seven digs.

Bullis dished out 20 assists to go with 10 digs, a team high.

Cal Poly will be looking to earn their first win of the start of the season in their next game against Utah Valley on Monday, August 29 in Orem, Utah.

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