Behind a double-double from junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek and a balanced attack from the rest of the team, the Cal Poly volleyball team came back after dropping the first two sets to win the next three and defeat Georgia (23-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-22, 15-10) Friday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament inside Maples Pavilion.
The win for the Mustangs (21-8) was the first reverse sweep for them this season and the first win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament since 2017 and 11th time overall.
Dvoracek finished with a team-high 14 kills and 12 digs to go with five block assists. Returning from injury and playing for the first time this season, senior outside hitter Torrey Van Winden added 13 kills. Senior outside hitter Jessica McRoskey stepped up big for Cal Poly, finishing with 11 kills and six digs. Sophomore middle blocker Meredith Phillips had nine kills and a match-high seven blocks while junior middle blocker Madilyn Mercer added eight kills and five block assists. Sophomore setter Avalon DeNecochea dished 47 digs to go with six digs and four block assists and senior libero Mika Dickson finished with 12 digs.
It was a back-and-forth affair early to start the first set with neither team able to pull ahead. Tied at 13, Cal Poly used a 4-1 run to take a 17-14 lead. Georgia then responded with a 6-2 run to take a 20-19 lead. After the Mustangs tied it at 20 apiece, the teams traded the next six points to keep it tied at 23. From there, the Bulldogs scored back-to-back points to take the set 25-23.
Georgia opened the second set by scoring the first four points. Cal Poly then rallied to cut the lead to as little as 8-7 before later tying it at 11. Tied at 13, the Mustangs scored back-to-back points to take their first lead of the set at 15-13. With Cal Poly leading 17-15, the Bulldogs scored four unanswered points to take a 19-17 advantage. The Mustangs cut the Georgia lead to 20-19 but that is close as close as they would get as the Bulldogs went on to win the set 25-22.
The third set started similar to the first with neither team able to get a lead and hold it. Trailing 7-5, Cal Poly scored three straight points to take an 8-7 advantage. Georgia responded with a 5-2 run to go ahead 12-10. Later trailing 15-13, Cal Poly regained the lead after going on a 6-2 run to make it 19-17. The Bulldogs then scored consecutive points to cut the lead to 20-19. The Mustangs followed that with a 5-1 run to finish the set and win it 25-20. For the set, Cal Poly held Georgia to a .185 hitting percentage while the Mustangs sided-out at 75 percent.
The Mustangs came out firing to begin the fourth set, getting out to a 5-1 lead. Georgia then rallied back to take an 11-8 lead with a 10-4 run. Cal Poly rallied to get it back to even at 12-12 before going on a 4-2 run to regain the lead 16-14. After the Bulldogs tied it at 17, the teams traded points until, tied at 20, Cal Poly went on a tear by finishing the set on a 5-2 run to win it 25-22 and force a fifth and deciding set.
Cal Poly began the fifth set by getting out to a 3-1 lead. From there, Cal Poly led by as many as four at 8-4 before Georgia cut it to 8-6 with back-to-back points. The Mustangs then used a 5-1 run to pull ahead 13-7. Georgia cut the lead to five before Cal Poly scored the final two points to win the set 15-10 and complete the reverse sweep.
The Mustangs now move on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament to face the winner of No. 3 Stanford and Denver on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. in Maples Pavilion.
-Provided by Cal Poly