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No. 24 Mustangs Use Balanced Attack to Sweep Butler

No. 24 Mustangs Use Balanced Attack to Sweep Butler

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Six Mustangs had five or more kills as the Cal Poly volleyball team used a balanced attack to sweep Butler 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-18) Saturday in its final match at the Panther Challenge on the University of Pittsburgh's campus. Cal Poly went 2-1 in the tournament over the weekend.

Junior outside hitter Torrey Van Winden finished with a match-high 14 kills while hitting .440 to go along with eight digs. Sophomore middle blocker Madilyn Mercer set new career-highs in both kills and blocks. She had eight kills to go along with a team-high six blocks all while hitting .438. Junior outside hitter Jessica McRoskey also had a career-high for kills with six. Senior outside hitter Adlee Van Winden also finished with six kills and eight blocks.

The No. 24 Mustangs (2-1) also saw some of their newcomers put up numbers. Sophomore transfer Jamie Stivers and freshman Meredith Phillips each ended with five kills. Freshman setter Avalon Denecochea led Cal Poly in assists with 23 and senior libero Katherine Brouker led the Mustangs in digs with 11 as the team hit a combined .303 for the match.

The Bulldogs (0-3) started the first set by getting out to a 6-2 lead. However, Cal Poly would bounce back. Down 10-7, the Mustangs would go on to score five of the next six points to take a 12-11 lead. Later, tied at 14, kills by both Mercer and McRoskey followed by a block by the duo would give Cal Poly a 17-14 lead. Two more kills by Mercer, a Torrey Van Winden kill and a block by Mercer and Torrey would extend the run to 7-0 and extend their lead to 21-14. The Mustangs would go on to end the set on a 11-2 run to win 25-16. Mercer finished the set with six kills as Cal Poly hit .429 while holding Butler to a .179 hitting percentage.

The second set started with both teams trading points. Tied at eight in the second set, the Mustangs would go on an 8-3 run to take a 16-11 lead and force a Bulldog timeout. Cal Poly did not look back from there, extending the lead to 23-15. A Phillips kill would win the set 25-16 as the Mustangs hit .441 in the second set.

Cal Poly returned from the set break red hot to begin the third. They scored the first six points of the set to force Butler to call timeout. However, out of the timeout the Bulldogs responded with six straight points of their own to tie it at six and force the Mustangs to call timeout. The teams would continue to trade runs until, with Cal Poly up 18-16, two Torrey Van Winden kills and a Butler attack error gave the Mustangs a 21-16 lead. Cal Poly would not let the Bulldogs back in the match from there as they ended the set on a 7-2 run to win 25-18 and complete the sweep.

The Mustangs finished the Panther Challenge 2-1 with the win over the Bulldogs. They also beat Pepperdine Friday before falling to No. 20 Pittsburgh later that day.

"I wanted to find out how our players would respond to stressful situations," head coach Sam Crosson said of the weekend's tournament. "To be able to play another Top 25 team like Pitt on the road was a great learning experience for everybody. We can take away a lot of good things from that match and this weekend."

"Both our setters played well," Crosson said. "They're court demeanor and execution were very good. I saw some progress with our blocking and transition offense. Overall, I was very pleased with how our group came together and started to figure out how to play with each other."

Up next for the Mustangs is the Utah State Invitational next weekend. They begin with Loyola Marymount Friday at 9 a.m. PDT.