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No. 24 Mustangs Split Pair of Matches to Open 2018 Season

No. 24 Mustangs Split Pair of Matches to Open 2018 Season

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — The Cal Poly volleyball team split a pair of matches to begin its 2018 season at the Panther Challenge Friday in Pittsburgh, beating Pepperdine 3-1 before falling to No. 20 Pittsburgh 3-1 (25-22, 25-15, 25-17, 25-19) inside Fitzgerald Fieldhouse on the University of Pittsburgh campus.

In the opening match against the Waves (0-1), sisters Torrey and Adlee Van Winden each had double-doubles as the No. 24 Mustangs beat Pepperdine 3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 27-25, 25-20).

Torrey, a junior, finished with a match-high 24 kills, hitting .365 to go along with 13 digs and four blocks. Adlee, a senior, had 20 kills, hitting .333, 12 digs and two service aces. Senior libero Katherine Brouker led the Mustangs with 28 digs. Freshman setter Avalon Denecochea had a team-high 32 assists in her first career match and redshirt freshman setter Emma Reynolds finished with 18 assists.

The first set saw both teams trading runs to begin the third set. Up 15-12, Pepperdine would go on a 7-2 run to take a 22-14 lead. The Mustangs would cut the lead to 22-18 with a run of their own. However, the Waves would take back control of the set and go on to win it 25-19.

The second set began with the teams going back-and-forth trading points. Up 14-13, Cal Poly would go on a 6-3 run and take a 20-16 lead. It would get as close as 23-22 but two straight kills by the Mustangs would win them the set 25-22.

It was déjà vu in the third as the teams once again traded points for the first half of the set with no team having a lead larger than three points until, up 14-11, Pepperdine went on a 4-1 run to take a 18-12 lead and force a Cal Poly timeout. The Mustangs would come out of the timeout on fire, scoring 10 of the next 14 points to tie the score at 22 and force a Wave timeout. Following the timeout, Pepperdine would score back-to-back points and have a chance for set point. The Mustangs would continue to fight and score two straight points of their own to tie it at 24. Tied at 25, an attack error by the Waves followed by a Jessica McRoskey kill would win the set for the Mustangs 27-25 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

Pepperdine would not give up, starting the fourth set by getting out to a 7-2 lead. Cal Poly would make its way back into the set, eventually tying the set up at 9. From there the teams would continue to go back-and-forth until, tied at 18, the Mustangs scored five points in a row to take a 23-18 lead. They would not look back and go on to win the set 25-20 and win the match 3-1.

As a team, Cal Poly hit .311 and amassed eight blocks to go along with five service aces.

After a seven-hour break in between matches, the Mustangs returned to Fitzgerald Fieldhouse to take on the No. 20 Pitt Panthers. The Panthers (2-0) have made it to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments and returned all of their starters from last season.

In front of a crowd of more than 1,000 Pitt fans, the Mustangs stared the match red hot. They got out to a 10-2 lead to begin the first set thanks in part to four kills from Torrey Van Winden (she would go on to have seven in the first set). The Panthers would rally back to cut the lead to 15-12. Tied at 20 later in the set, Cal Poly scored four points unanswered to take a 24-20 lead. Following two straight Pitt points, a service error would give Cal Poly a 25-22 first set win.

The second set would see the Panthers this time get out to the fast start, taking a 10-4 early lead before a Mustang timeout. Cal Poly would continue to try to battle back but the Panthers would get as much as an eight-point lead and go on to win the set 25-15. Pitt hit .458 as a team in the second set.

The third set would start out much closer than the previous two as the teams traded points to begin the set. The close set would continue to stay that way until, up 18-16, Pitt scored three straight points to take a 21-16 lead. Up 21-17, the Panthers would go on to score four straight points to win the set 25-17 and take a 2-1 lead in the match.

The fourth set would see both teams make runs and trade points for the first part of the set. Down 7-3, the Mustangs would go on a run to eventually tie it at 8 apiece. Later in the set, tied at 16, Pitt would go on a 6-2 run and take a 22-18 lead. They would then go on to score three of the next four points to win the set 25-19 and win the match 3-1.

The No. 24 Mustangs (1-1) were led by Torrey Van Winden's 13 kills to go along with eight digs. Adlee Van Winden had 10 kills and six digs. Avalon Denecochea finished with a team-high 25 assists.

The No. 20 Panthers, who hit .387 as a team, had three players reach double-digit kills. Kayla Lund led them with 20 kills and nine digs. Nika Markovic had 16 kills, hitting .419 and nine digs and Layne Van Buskirk finished with 10 kills to go along with six blocks.

Cal Poly returns to action Saturday at 1 p.m. PDT (4 p.m. Eastern) to take on Butler who is 0-1 after losing to Pitt Friday 3-0. You can follow live scoring on GoPoly.com.