By William Jack, Sept. 19, 2023

Cal Poly Pomona’s volleyball squad displayed resilience at the Broncos Fall Classic, rebounding from the first loss of the season to secure remarkable consecutive victories over Northwest Nazarene University, Point Loma Nazarene University, Simon Fraser University and Azusa Pacific University.

CPP volleyball opened the Broncos Fall Classic with a face-off against 4-0 NNU. The match unfolded with intensity, ultimately resulting in a 3-1 victory for the Broncos.

In a testament to their balanced attack, Broncos Samantha Campion, Madison Novak and Daisy Duke each registered 13 kills. Caitie Mueller spearheaded the offense with 40 assists while contributing 13 digs defensively. On the defensive side, Avery Percival led the Broncos in digs with 19, while Campion and Duke contributed 15 and 13 digs respectively.

The opening set saw both teams fiercely competing, with CPP maintaining a slight hitting edge over NNU. The Broncos secured the first set, 25-23, thanks to a crucial combo block from Alexia Athans and Duke.

The Broncos surged ahead after initially trading points, securing a 25-15 victory in the second set.

Although NNU fought back in the third set with a 25-19 win, CPP responded with determination, clinching the match with a 25-22 victory in the fourth set.

Despite the strong result, head coach Traci Dahl was frustrated with the team’s play.

“I thought that tonight was a little bit slower for us,” said Dahl. “I think that we played faster volleyball last weekend, and we looked a little uncomfortable tonight. Whether it was our first home game or whatever it was, this was not the product that we typically put forth.”

When asked about the slow start, Dahl responded with an optimistic outlook moving forward despite the frustration of the game.

“We’ve had some injuries we’ve been facing, and we have a lot to work on,” Dahl said. “But I’m proud of them for getting to win because it was not an easy win.”

CPP continued its impressive run in the Broncos Fall Classic, notching a 3-0 victory over Point Loma. The Broncos showcased their well-rounded skills, excelling in both serving and blocking.

Duke led the charge with 13 kills and three blocks, while Novak contributed 11 kills. Campion added 10 kills and showcased her defensive prowess with four blocks. Mueller again led the offense with 31 assists, and Percival shone in the back row with 14 digs.

In this match, the Broncos displayed their dominance in serving, securing six aces compared to Point Loma University’s three. This advantage coupled with solid blocking propelled CPP to a convincing victory.

Andre Davancens | The Poly Post

The Broncos capped off their day-two performance in the Broncos Fall Classic with a resounding straight-set win over SFU, advancing their overall record to 6-1 ahead of their final game.

Despite the Broncos’ dominance in this game, the team took a huge blow in the second set of the match. Duke came down with a leg injury going up for a block. Duke’s trainer and coach helped her off the court.

Despite her presence often being integral to the team’s success, the team found a way to rally around Duke to take full control of the match.

“It’s rough for everyone, all the teams,” said Novak. “You don’t really play that much, ever. Obviously, with an injury, it’s never good, but I think we kind of upgraded today as a team because we all came together and we played for her.”

Once again, Campion played a pivotal role, recording a double-double with 15 kills and 15 digs. Mueller also achieved a double-double, tallying 32 assists and 11 digs. Kaitlan Tucker contributed three blocks to bolster the Broncos’ defensive efforts.

The Broncos maintained their superiority in serving, amassing eight aces compared to SFU’s three. This advantage, combined with their cohesive gameplay, secured another impressive victory.

“I’ll tell you the grit and the grind of this team showed,” said Dahl. “I couldn’t be more proud. That’s what’s so special about this team.”

Novak touched on how her teammates, Percival and Mueller, improved their play.

“I think they played amazing, and they were upgrading every single game,” said Novak. “And just to see balls that we weren’t getting at the first games of the preseason and now we’re getting those up, and Caitie’s able to run an amazing offense off of that.”

Mueller gave her thoughts on why she thought she performed so well in this game and throughout the tournament.

“My passers and diggers throughout the game are getting me up in a good area where I can assist other people and switch it up on who I’m setting,” said Mueller.

In their final match of the Broncos Fall Classic, CPP found themselves trailing after the first set but rallied back to secure a 3-1 victory against APU. This victory marked their fourth consecutive win, further solidifying their strong standing.

Campion was a standout performer, leading all attackers with 21 kills and maintaining an impressive .310 attack percentage. Novak added 18 kills, while Sarah Ybarra contributed 11 kills to the offensive efforts. Mueller continued to fuel the Bronco offense with 48 assists.

In a testament to their balanced defensive play, four Broncos players reached double-digit digs in the match: Percival with 14, Emily Payne with 12, Campion with 11 and Ybarra with 11. This collective effort proved crucial in overcoming the resilient APU team.

After dropping the first set, the Broncos regrouped and dominated the next three sets, showcasing their determination and adaptability.

The Broncos traveled to Seaside, California for their conference opener against the Cal State Monterey Bay Otters Friday, Sept. 15 before facing the Cal State East Bay Pioneers the following day. CPP won both matches 3-1, advancing its overall record to 9-1 heading into its first home match against Cal State L.A. Friday, Sept. 22.

Feature image by Andre Davancens

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