SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — For the second year in a row, the Cal Poly volleyball team secured the outright Big West title on its home floor, a night after clinching a share of it. The No. 15 Mustangs (25-2, 15-1 BWC) swept Cal State Fullerton (25-17, 25-19, 25-12) Saturday in front of over 1,000 fans at Mott Athletics Center on senior night.
Junior Torrey Van Winden led the way for Cal Poly in the win over the Titans (6-24, 0-16 BWC) with a match-high 12 kills, 12 digs and four blocks while hitting .360 for her 12th double-double of the season. The Mustangs got a big contribution off the bench from sophomore Jamie Stivers who finished with a career-high 11 kills, hitting .409. Playing in their last regular season matches at home, senior Adlee Van Winden had eight kills, hitting .421 and eight digs and fellow senior Katherine Brouker added 11 digs and nine assists. Freshman Meredith Phillips chipped in seven kills and four blocks and freshman setter Avalon DeNecochea dished out a match-high 33 assists to go along with six kills, seven digs and four blocks.
Following a ceremony to honor the two seniors, Cal Poly came out firing in the first set. The Mustangs jumped out to an 11-3 lead out of the gate. Cal State Fullerton responded with five straight points to cut the lead to three. The Mustangs then came back with a 5-1 run of their own to take a 16-9 lead and never looked back. Up 24-17, an error by the Titans finished off the set for Cal Poly 25-17. For the set, the Mustangs hit a strong .469, its highest hitting percentage of the match.
The second set saw Cal State Fullerton take the early 8-4 advantage. Down 9-5, Cal Poly went on a 4-1 run to cut the lead to one. The Titans then took a 13-9 lead before the Mustangs once again rallied back to tie it a 13. Tied at 14, a 6-2 run by Cal Poly put them up by four. Cal State Fullerton got as close as 21-19 before the Mustangs finished the set by scoring four straight points to win it 25-19.
Looking to complete the sweep and secure back-to-back Big West Championships, Cal Poly played its toughest defense in the third set, holding the Titans to an .034 hitting percentage. The Mustangs to a 9-5 lead early. From there, they exploded with an 8-4 run to extend their lead to 17-9. They did not let the Titans back in it from there, finishing the set on an 8-3 run to take it 25-12 to win sole possession of the Big West Championship.
Saturday's win was also Cal Poly's 21st consecutive at Mott Athletics Center. The Mustangs finished this season a perfect 10-0 at home after going 8-0 last season and won their last three at home in 2016. The Mustangs have also finished a combined 31-1 in the Big West the last two seasons.
Cal Poly's back-to-back conference titles are the first since 2006-07 and the fifth overall in program history. It also means the Mustangs will be making their 16th appearance in the NCAA Tournament. They will have to wait until Sunday, November 25 to find out who and where they will be playing in the tournament.
The NCAA Tournament selection show airs November 25 at 5:30 p.m. on ESPNU. Cal Poly will be hosting a selection show watch party at Milestone Tavern in San Luis from 5-6:30 p.m. All fans are invited to attend. The first round of the tournament begins Friday, November 30.
Photo courtesy Owen Main