By Brandon Cummings and Daniel Tapia, Sept. 20, 2022

On Sept. 14, fans filled the stands to cheer on the Cal Poly Pomona volleyball team as they hosted their first home game of conference play against Azusa Pacific University.  After their opening match loss, the Broncos have now won eight straight games.

The match against APU began slow for the Broncos as they found themselves down 15-7 midway through the first set. The Cougars on the other hand came out of the gates roaring, led by outside hitter Annaka Jorgenson who was APU’s kill leader coming into tonight’s matchup.

Head coach Traci Dahl spoke about the game plan coming into the matchup to limit Jorgenson’s opportunities.

“She still had 17 kills, but we targeted her well on serve receive,” said Dahl. “She’s a really good player, so our game plan was to shut her down or keep her at ease.”

Suffering 11 errors in the 25-14 set loss to the Cougars, the Broncos lacked composure in the first set, an area coach Dahl looked to correct in the later stages of the match.

“We had 11 errors, which is half a set, just from our mistakes,” said Dahl. “That’s tough to come back from, especially being down 12-5 at one point. Offensively we needed to be better, making less errors, and we did that.”

After the sluggish start, the Broncos began their second set looking to bounce back. Both teams exchanged the lead until the halfway mark, when outside hitters Daisy Duke and Samantha Campion grabbed four straight kills. Duke and Campion finished the second set with a combined 14 kills, leading the way to a 25-20 set victory.

Campion mentioned being able to play her best by trusting her teammates.

“Being able to trust the blockers and play around them made it easy to put myself in the right position to make plays,” said Campion.

While the third set momentum seemed to favor the Broncos, the Cougars responded correspondingly, jumping out to an early 5-2 lead. However, CPP answered back with two kills from middle blocker Kaitlan Tucker, an ace from Duke and a double block from both Tucker and outside hitter Madison Novak.

With both teams exchanging points, the Cougars separated themselves midway through the set, forcing a Bronco timeout after taking an 18-15 lead. Fortunately, this timeout came at the perfect moment as the Broncos answered back with three consecutive kills from middle blocker Erin McFarland, outside hitter Kylie Brandt and Duke, tying the set at 19.

Daniel Tapia | The Poly Post

This hyped up the crowd, who kept the energy up throughout the rest of the set, giving a boost to the players.

“The crowd was definitely there tonight making it a great opener,” said Duke. “Having a supportive crowd is always beneficial for the team, and it always gives good energy throughout the whole gym.”

The Broncos never looked back from that point on, finishing set three with a score of 25-22, thanks to a combination of kills and great defense from the front row.

Coming off back-to-back set wins, the Broncos were eager to put the Cougars away in set four and secure a home-opening win. This fourth set brought out the best of both teams as they battled for every point. Campion picked up from her dominating first set, scoring three electric kills to start the Broncos off right.

The Cougars remained unfazed, coming back to even the score and stay within striking distance. It wasn’t until a double block from McFarland and Novak put the Broncos up 18-17, flipping the switch for the Broncos to take control. It was 20-19 with the whole crowd on their feet, cheering for CPP to put this one away.

The Broncos finished the set outscoring the Cougars 5-1, starting with a kill from Campion and an ace from libero Mackenzie Sullivan. After a service error from the Cougars made it 23-20 in favor of CPP, setter Caitie Mueller delivered a resounding kill to put the Broncos at match point. Mueller and Tucker once again struck a double block, which gave the Broncos their eighth win in a row.

CPP started on the right note, claiming three consecutive victories and now ranking at number 25 in all of Division II women’s volleyball. They are now preparing to hit the road again, starting with a matchup Friday, Sept. 23 against Cal State Dominguez Hills for conference play. This matchup can be livestreamed via the Broncos Athletic website and the California Collegiate Athletic Association Network.

Feature Image by Daniel Tapia

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