By Matthew Acosta, Sept. 27, 2022
On Sept. 24, Cal Poly Pomona’s volleyball beat the No. 2 ranked Cal State Los Angeles Eagles to extend their winning streak to 12 games in a 3-2 set victory. Opposite side hitter Daisy Duke led the Broncos with a stellar performance late in the match which closed out the five-set victory.
The energy on both sides was high during the pregame as both teams entered the match undefeated in conference play and ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively in the California Collegiate Athletic Association.
Though the game was a grind for the Broncos, head coach Traci Dahl still found herself with many positives post-game.
“Sometimes it’s not going to be pretty. Tonight was a little messy, but we prevailed and I’m proud of them because we went into this match like it’s a business meeting,” said Dahl. “I think the girls were really prepared tonight.”
The Eagles’ early attacks were an array of power hits from both the outside and the opposite as the Broncos failed to establish their block early on.
The Broncos struggled out of the gate to establish their offensive game plan, but just as they have done the majority of the season, they began to crawl back into the game. Setter Caitie Mueller led the way with some outstanding passes and sets.
“My hitters definitely make it easy on me to go either way,” said Mueller. “They were all doing really well finding somewhere to put it.”
Cal State L.A.’s late game serve and serve receive errors gave the Broncos the window needed to strike, and Daisy Duke took advantage with a massive kill to tie up the set at 21.
CPP battled back and forth and went into extra points during the set, including an electric rally which the Broncos ended with a 27-26 score.
The Broncos ended the set with a quick set to outside hitter, Samantha Campion, to win the set 30-28.
As the second set began, the Eagles came out flat offensively. The set remained a close scoring contest until the Broncos began to use the strong Eagle double block against them, applying controlled tips to have balls deflect onto the court.
The Broncos’ slower attacks helped to propel them to a 21-14 lead which they held onto until the end of the set. After all the tips throughout the set from the outside hitters, Mueller joined the tip party with a setter dump that ended the set and gave the Broncos a 2-0 set lead.
CPP’s lack of focus was evident heading into the third set as the Eagles went on a 6-0 run and forced an early Bronco timeout. The power Ayjah Landers used to hit seemed to have stunned the Broncos.
The match then began to be a back-and-forth event, as the Broncos and the Eagles each exchanged hits and blocked one another.
Four points was the closest the Broncos got as stellar middle blocker Haley Roundtree led the Eagles was able to add in some kills from her position to win the set 25-17.
With the Eagles looking to even the set score, this became a near must-win for the Broncos. Allowing a comeback to even the sets series is a recipe for disaster for most teams.
The set began with much more energy from the Broncos, who began to utilize Duke from wherever she was lined up on the court. She rewarded her team for the extra sets by putting the ball right down into the Eagles’ back row.
The momentum quickly shifted after the Eagles were able to get Landers back into a rhythm that allowed a massive angle kill that left the Bronco back row standing and watching.
The power hits continued from Landers and outside hitter Iane Henke, who began to assist in the Eagle takeover of this set.
CPP was able to sneak their way back into the set, but costly passing errors prevented their win when the Eagles closed out the set victory 25-19.
“In the third and fourth set, they came out serving really tough against us, and we had a hard time passing the ball,” said head coach Traci Dahl. “They turned it up not only at the service line but turning it up offensively. We couldn’t stop Ayjah Landers and that right side; they were just successful.”
With the No. 1 spot in the CCAA on the line, the fifth and final set began with high tension from both teams.
Duke set the tone for her team, striking a hit directly into the Eagle double block for the score.
“I feel like it throws off a team if I am able to throw in a tip to get them out of rotation,” said Duke. “I just thought swing hard and swing if it’s available or open. There were many moments when I felt that the block was there, so I would have to tip.”
The Eagles became their own worst enemies after committing an array of errors as well as a costly net contact violation.
Halfway through the set with the score tied at seven, the Eagles sent an errant pass over the net which middle blocker Erin McFarland took advantage of and sent straight down with a controlled tip.
The Broncos finally closed out the set after an errant hit from Landers went just wide and awarded the point to the Broncos.
The Broncos extended their win streak to 12 in a gritty performance against the Eagles and will now look to carry on that momentum for the rest of the season.
CPP will return home to host a match against the Cal State East Bay Pioneers on Friday, Sept. 30. The game can also be streamed on the CCAA website as well as on BroncoAthletics.com.
Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics
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