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No. 24 Mustangs Go 2-0 at Day One of Utah State Invitational

No. 24 Mustangs Go 2-0 at Day One of Utah State Invitational

LOGAN, Utah – The Cal Poly volleyball team improved to 4-1 Friday after winning both matches at day one of the Utah State Invitational. The No. 24 Mustangs started the day by beating Loyola Marymount 3-2 (25-23, 25-22, 19-25, 28-30, 15-12) and University of Texas Rio Grande Valley 3-0 (25-22, 25-11, 25-20) later in the day.

Against the Lions (3-1), four Mustangs finished with 10 or more kills to help pace the team's 3-2 win.

Junior outside hitter Torrey Van Winden led Cal Poly with a team-high 15 kills to go along with eight digs and four blocks. Freshman middle blocker Meredith Phillips had a career-high 12 kills while hitting .360 and added four blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Madilyn Mercer and senior outside hitter Adlee Van Winden each added 10 kills. Mercer also finished with four blocks and Adlee Van Winden added eight digs. Freshman setter Avalon DeNecochea also had a career day with 46 assists and two service aces.

The start of the first set saw the teams trading points. In total for the set, there would be nine ties and four lead changes. Tied at nine, the Mustangs would go on a 7-2 run to take a 16-11 lead. Loyola Marymount would then rally to tie it at 16. Up 19-18, Cal Poly would score three straight points via a kill, an ace and a Lion error to take a 22-18 lead. Loyola would then go on a 4-1 run to cut the lead to 23-22. Up 24-23, freshman Meredith Phillips would get the set-winning kill for the Mustangs 25-23.

The beginning of the second set would again see both teams trading points. Tied at 10, Cal Poly would use kills and blocks to go on a 6-1 run and take a 16-11 lead. The Lions would fight back to cut the lead to 17-16. Up 20-19, the Mustangs would score three straight points to take a 23-19 lead. A Madilyn Mercer and Torrey Van Winden block later followed by a Torrey kill would win the set for the Mustangs 25-22. In the second set, Cal Poly held LMU to a .105 hitting percentage.

Tied at four in the third set, the Lions would score four straight points to take an 8-4 lead. Later, down 12-8 Cal Poly would rally back to cut the lead to one at 13-12 and later 16-15. From there, LMU would score four straight points to take a 20-15 lead. However, the Mustangs would not go away quietly as they would cut the lead to 21-18.  The Lions would go on to score four of the next five points to win the set 25-19.

The fourth set would continue the trend of close starts for both teams for the first 10 points of the set. Tied at 10, the Mustangs would score two straight points. With Cal Poly up 13-11, LMU would rally to tie it at 13. Later in the set tied at 19, the Lions would score two straight points to take a 21-19 lead. The Mustangs would follow that up with back-to-back points of its own to tie it again at 21. With Cal Poly down 23-22, a Phillips kill followed by a block by freshman Avalon DeNecochea and Mercer the Mustangs would take a 24-23 lead and force a Lion timeout. LMU would then score to tie at 24. After trading points and tied at 25, a service error would give the Mustangs a 26-25 lead. The Mustangs would then have a serving error to tie it at 26. The Lions would then get a kill to take a 27-26 lead. An error by LMU would then tie it again at 27. Tied at 28, and LMU kill followed by a block would win the set for them 30-28 to force a fifth and deciding set.

Down 3-2 in the fifth set, Cal Poly would score go on a 4-1 run and take a 7-4 lead and force a Lion timeout. Later, with the Mustangs up 10-9, the Mustangs would score three of the next four points to take a 13-10 lead. Up 14-12, Meredith Phillips' 12th kill of the day would win the set and the match for the Mustangs 15-12.

After a short break, the Mustangs returned to the Estes Center to take on UTRGV (4-2)

The first set saw the two teams tied at 10 after the first 20 points. Rio Grande Valley would then score three straight points to take a 13-10 lead. The Vaqueros would extend the lead to 17-13 later in the set. Down 20-16, Cal Poly would rally back by scoring five straight points to take a 21-20 lead. Tied at 21, Cal Poly would go on to score four of the next five points to win the set 25-22.

The Mustangs came out red-hot to begin the second set, getting out to a 5-1 before Rio Grande Valley was forced to call a timeout. They would continue the hot streak out of the timeout, extending their lead to 14-2 at one point, a streak that included a 9-0 run. Cal Poly would not look back from there and would go on to win the set 25-11. They held the Vaqueros to a -.033 hitting percentage while hitting .320 themselves.

Cal Poly would start the third set just as strong as the second, getting out to a 7-2 early on. Up 11-8, the Mustangs would go on a 5-0 run to take a 16-8 lead. Cal Poly would extend their lead 20-13 and would go on to win the set 25-20 to complete the sweep.

Cal Poly finishes day one of the Utah State Invitational 2-0. They will play one more match Saturday at 1 p.m. PDT against the host Aggies. To follow live stats, click here. To follow live streaming of the match, click here.