CSUB volleyball fights back from furious Cal Poly rally to win 3-1.
The Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners could feel the game getting out of hand.
After two dominant sets to start Tuesday night’s matchup against Cal Poly, the Roadrunners fell 25-12 in the third set and lost 17-12 in the fourth. Something needed to change, or they would risk being swept backward by the Mustangs, the same result they faced Saturday night against UC Davis.
CSUB didn’t even let it get to a fifth set. Led by three late spikes from Brooke Boisseau (who had 13 overall), and aided by five attacking errors from the Mustangs’ erratic offense, CSUB went on a 13-5 run to secure their 3-1 (25- 14, 25). -21, 12-25, 25-22).
“I think it had a lot to do with what happened on Saturday,” CSUB coach Giovana Melo said. “We were able to do something different, we were able to make changes mentally just by learning from what we did before.”
CSUB’s (17-8, 10-7) momentum had been hampered by hard-hitting attacking play from forward Tommi Stockham, who led all players with 19 attacks as the Mustangs offense hit the Road Runners. everything they could handle down the stretch.
Cal Poly (13-15, 11-6) certainly didn’t challenge CSUB’s defense early on, posting a .000 attacking percentage with seven errors in the first set. But the Mustangs still held him close until an attacking error by Hayley McCluskey made it 16-14.
At that point, CSUB scored nine points in a row to end the set. With Paige Calvin serving, the Road Runners got three kills from Boiseau and one from Seleisa Elisaia (seven kills, 33 assists), one of the most prolific hitters among the nation’s point guards. He kept Cal Poly guessing all night with his spikes of change.
“She’s good at it,” Melo said, “she practices every day to do it, and we’re lucky she does what she does.”
The second set featured another long run from CSUB, taking the game from 9-9 to 16-9 behind the fierce attacking play of Hana Makonova, who had seven of her 10 kills in that set. But this time the Mustangs were able to stay close, using a couple of timeouts to stem the tide and eventually reducing their deficit to 22-20 with an ace from Avalon DeNecochea. However, that was the closest Cal Poly could get, and Makonova closed the set.
The third set provided what Boiseau called an uncomfortable “trip down memory lane” as the Road Runners watched their sweeping chances fade. The Mustangs were on fire to open the set, leading 12-1 on a Makonova error, then 19-6 thanks to a pair of spikes from Kate Slack. CSUB never really had a chance and lost 25-12 on straight Lea Ungar aces.
The fourth set provided an opportunity to stop the Mustangs’ momentum.
“We were all super motivated to get it in four,” Boiseau said. “We had played very well in the first and second sets, so we knew we could do it. It was just a matter of focus.”
This time the two teams went blow by blow. CSUB’s 6-1 run to take a 9-6 lead was offset by a Cal Poly 11-3 streak that forced Melo to use two timeouts.
With the Mustangs threatening to walk away, CSUB had good luck with a couple of attacking errors and an ace from Paige Calvin that barely drifted over the net. The Mustangs regained their three-point lead at 20-17, but as in the first set, the Roadrunners were in their prime at the end. They scored eight of the next ten points, highlighted by Boiseau’s meticulously targeted shot to the back right corner, and claimed their 3-1 victory.
It was a turnaround from Saturday’s fortunes and a contrast to the Mustang sweep of San Luis Obispo on Oct. 12.
“Every team we play is going to be amazing,” Boiseau said, “so (it’s about) being able to focus from the first point rather than just letting the game happen and joining it in the middle.”
The Roadrunners will face an even tougher test on Friday when they host conference leaders Hawaii for their last home game of the year.