The Cal Poly volleyball team swept rival team UCSB in front of a full house Saturday night, stretching the Mustangs’ home winning streak to 30 and keeping them in the hunt for a Big West title.
The match was the second showdown between the Gauchos and Mustangs this season. UCSB won the first match 3-1 on Oct. 19 in Isla Vista.
“The Mott magic is real. I’m a believer now,” head coach Caroline Walters said after the match. “The way this community supports this program, especially, you know, (when) we are fighting for a Big West Championship and for them to show up and have our back, it definitely meant something tonight.”
Energy was high throughout the night, both on and off the court.
Mott Athletics Center was filled with squeaking shoes, loud slaps and a roaring crowd during the highly anticipated match, which fell on Alumni Night, where former Cal Poly volleyball members were welcomed back and honored.
Cal Poly dominated right from the start, taking the first set 25-13. With each point the Mustangs scored, the crowd erupted.
Team members and viewers alike danced between sets and the band cheered, riling up the crowd.
The second set started with Cal Poly and UCSB battling back and forth for points, with the Mustangs staying just two points ahead most of the way until pulling away halfway through the set. The second set ended in a 25-18 Mustang victory.
In the third set, Cal Poly immediately turned up the heat and made several kills before UCSB could score.
But tension rose and the crowd’s energy intensified as both teams continued to rack up points. Cal Poly was able to secure the win, ending the final set 25-19.
After the sweep, team members rushed the court in celebration and fans quickly followed, making a cheer tunnel for the team to run through.
Junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek and senior outside hitter Jessica McRoskey led the way for the Mustangs, with 13 kills and 11 kills, respectively. No Gaucho player reached double figures for kills, with Tallulah Froley tallying a team-high 9.
“A win like that, it gives us all the confidence in the world to know that every single day what we train for and when we listen to our coaches and we trust the process, we can do stuff like that,” Dvoracek said. “We’re excited to play the rest of conference, and we are excited to make a run at the tournament.”
The Mustangs’ victory over the Gauchos was a key step in the team’s bid for a shot at the Big West title and the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The win raised Cal Poly’s record to 17-7 overall and 10-2. The Mustangs are a half-game behind Hawaii, which is 11-2 in conference and 21-3 overall.
Saturday’s win was big, but Cal Poly will still need some help to win the conference outright.
If both Cal Poly and No. 19 University of Hawaii win out the rest of the way, the Mustangs and Rainbow Wahine will be named co-champions of the Big West, and Hawaii will be earn the automatic NCAA bid on a tiebreaker.
However, if Hawaii loses a game and the Mustangs finish on a winning streak, Cal Poly will be sole title winner and receive the automatic NCAA bid.
Cal Poly’s next match will take place Friday at CSUN. After that, the next home match is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 22, at 7 p.m. against UC Irvine.