The Cal Poly beach volleyball team christened its new digs in style on Saturday, winning both of its matches over top 10 opponents while playing their first ever matches the brand new Mustang Beach Volleyball Complex as they hosted the inaugural Center of Effort Beach Volleyball Challenge.
In front of hundreds of fans and supporters, the No. 8 Mustangs (4-2) took down No. 6 Pepperdine 3-2 before beating No. 9 Loyola Marymount University also by a score of 3-2 to win the Center of Effort Beach Volleyball Challenge. The Lions finished the event 1-1 while the Waves went 0-2.
In its first match against No. 6 Pepperdine, the Waves got on the board first after a straight sets win at the No. 4 spot. Cal Poly’s No. 2 pairing of juniors Tia Miric and Mariah Whalen evened up the score a short time later after a 22-20, 21-17 victory.
The Mustangs took the lead after senior Adlee Van Winden and freshman Josie Ulrich won their match in straight sets at the No. 5 position, 21-19, 21-10. Pepperdine then tied the score 2-2 after a win at the No. 1 spot to force it to come down to a deciding match at the No. 3 pairing.
After dropping the first set, senior Emily Sonny and sophomore Jayelin Lombard took the second set 21-16 to force a decisive third set. Behind a raucous crowd, the two went on to win the third set 15-8 to clinch the match victory for Cal Poly and win the first match it played at Mustang Beach Volleyball Complex.
Right after beating Pepperdine, the Mustangs took on a No. 9 Loyola Marymount team that had also come off beating the No. 6 Waves.
The match started with a straight sets win by Miric and Whalen at the No. 2 position, 21-13, 21-17 to put Cal Poly on the board first. So far this season, Miric and Whalen are 5-1 as a pair.
The Lions responded with their own straight sets win at the No. 4 spot to tie the score 1-1.
From the No. 3 spot, Sonny and Lombard regained the lead for the Mustangs after a 21-13, 22-20 victory. They are also now 5-1 together this season.
LMU’s No. 1 pairing then won their match in straight sets to tie the score at 2-2 and force it to come down to the No. 5 pairs.
In that match, Adlee Van Winden and Ulrich lost the first set 19-21 before coming back to win the second 21-16 and in similar fashion to the Pepperdine match, force a deciding third set. With all eyes on them, Van Winden and Ulrich took the set 15-11 to clinch the dual victory for Cal Poly. Van Winden and Ulrich also brought their record together this season to an even 3-3.
The Center of Effort Beach Volleyball Challenge will be an annual event, attracting top collegiate volleyball programs to San Luis Obispo and becoming a premier in-season tournament in collegiate volleyball. Center of Effort's vintners, Bill and Cheryl Swanson, are supporters of the new Mustang Beach Volleyball Complex and have been instrumental in the vision for the event.
The two wins are the Mustangs’ second and third over a ranked opponent already this season.
There will be two more home events at Mustang Beach Volleyball Complex this season, with the next one coming on Saturday, March 2. There will also be one event at the old home location of Pismo Beach.
However, next up for Cal Poly is a trip to Phoenix next weekend for four matches. There, they will face Grand Canyon University and Houston Baptist on Friday, and San Diego Community College, which will not count toward Cal Poly’s overall record, and Abilene Christian University on Saturday.
-Provided by Cal Poly