Cal Poly repeats as Big West beach champion, 3-2 over Hawai’i

The day started off with so much promise. Hawai’i was in the driver’s seat after upsetting top-seeded Cal Poly in the winners bracket semifinal Saturday morning at Rosies Dog Beach in Long Beach, Calif.

The third-seeded BeachBows, then undefeated in the tournament, needed just one victory to claim their fourth Big West beach volleyball championship, and first since 2018. It was not to be.

Defending champion and top-seeded Cal Poly, needing to beat Hawai’i twice after coming out of the losers bracket, did just that when edging the BeachBows twice 3-2.

No. 6 Cal Poly improves to 23-9. The Mustangs will see if their record is good enough during Sunday’s NCAA selection show. The eight-team field includes three teams from the west and three from the east, plus two at-large.

Cal Poly was sitting as the fourth team from the west in Monday’s coaches poll, behind No. 1 USC, No. 2 UCLA and No. 5 Loyola Marymount. The east selections likely will be No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 LSU and No. 7 TCU.

The BeachBows finish 17-10 under first-year head coach Angelica Ljungqvist.

All three matches between Hawai’i and Cal Poly were close. The BeachBows sent the Mustangs into the losers bracket with a 3-2 victory in a battle of the tournament unbeatens. The Mustangs came out of the losers bracket to eliminate second-seeded Long Beach State, 4-1.

Hawai’i was down 0-2 after losing at Flights 1 and 2, including Amber Igiede-Brooke Van Sickle seeing their 11-match winning streak snapped by Emily Sonny-Macy Gordon, 21-14, 23-21. The UH pair had set point at 21-20 but couldn’t hold on to force a Set 3.

The BeachBows rallied to tie with 2-1 wins at Flights 4 and 5, leaving the deciding point at Flight 3. The Mustangs’ Mariah Whalen/Tia Miric turned back Harlee Kekauoha/Kylin Loker, 21-16, 17-21, 15-11 to force a deciding match.

There was none of the suspense of the previous match. Cal Poly clinched the dual with wins at Flights 2, 3 and 4, the Flight 4 21-17, 21-17 victory by Sam Strah-Eleonore Johansen the first loss of the day for UH’s Kaylee Glagau-Ilihia Huddleston.

Hawai’i won the last two flights in three with Igiede-Van Sickle a 14-21, 21-19, 15-7 winner over Emily Sonny-Macy Gordon, and Sofia Russo-Anna Maidment rallying for a 20-22, 21-19, 17-15 win over Vanessa Roscoe-Josie Ulrich.

It was the final match in a Hawai’i uniform for Kekauoha, playing as a graduate student, and Pani Napoleon, who graduates this month and hasn’t decided whether to play elsewhere as a graduate student or retire from collegiate competition.

For just the second time in program history, Hawai’i will not advance to the postseason. The BeachBows were in the previous four NCAA tournaments, finishing third twice and fourth twice. They also were in three of the four national tournaments run by the AVCA, missing out only in 2013.

Match 3

Cal Poly 3, Hawai’i 2

1. Amber Igiede/Brooke Van Sickle (UH) def. Emily Sonny/Macy Gordon (CP) 14-21, 21-19, 15-7

2. Amy Ozee/Jayelin Lombard (CP) def. Pani Napoleon/Jaime Santer (UH) 21-19, 21-19

3. Mariah Whalen/Tia Miric (CP) def. Harlee Kekauoha/Kylin Loker (UH) 21-12, 21-14

4. Sam Strah/Eleonore Johansen (CP) def. Kaylee Glagau/Ilihia Huddleston (UH) 21-17, 21-17

5. Sofia Russo/Anna Maidment (UH) def. Vanessa Roscoe/Josie Ulrich (CP) 20-22, 21-19, 17-15

Order of finish: 3,2,4,1,5

Match 2

Cal Poly 3, Hawai’i 2

1. Emily Sonny/Macy Gordon (CP) def. Amber Igiede/Brooke Van Sickle (UH) 21-14, 23-21

2. Pani Napoleon/Jaime Santer (UH) def. Amy Ozee/Jayelin Lombard (CP) 21-19, 22-20

3. Mariah Whalen/Tia Miric (CP) def. Harlee Kekauoha/Kylin Loker (UH) 21-16, 17-21, 15-11

4. Kaylee Glagau/Ilihia Huddleston (UH) def. Sam Strah/Eleonore Johansen (CP) 13-21, 21-14, 15-13

5. Vanessa Roscoe/Josie Ulrich (CP) def. Sofia Russo/Anna Maidment (UH) 22-20, 21-23, 15-8 Match Order of finish: 2,1,5,4,3

Match 1

Hawai’i 3, Cal Poly 2

1. Amber Igiede/Brooke Van Sickle (UH) def. Emily Sonny/Macy Gordon (CP) 18-21, 21-18, 15-11
2. Amy Ozee/Jayelin Lombard (CP) def. Pani Napoleon/Jaime Santer (UH) 21-15, 24-22
3. Mariah Whalen/Tia Miric (CP) def. Harlee Kekauoha/Kylin Loker (UH) 23-25, 22-20, 15-11
4. Kaylee Glagau/Ilihia Huddleston (UH) def. Sam Strah/Eleonore Johansen (CP) 21-13, 21-18
5. Sofia Russo/Anna Maidment (UH) def. Vanessa Roscoe/Josie Ulrich (CP) 22-24, 21-13, 15-12

Order of finish: 4,2,5,1,3

 

 

 

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