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Cal Poly Hosts No. 8 Hawai’i in Big West Showdown on Senior Night

Cal Poly Hosts No. 8 Hawai’i in Big West Showdown on Senior Night


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – After a pair of conference road victories last weekend, Cal Poly volleyball welcomes No. 7 Hawai'i for a 7 p.m. Thursday matchup in Mott Athletics Center. Prior to Thursday's match, three Cal Poly seniors – libero Nicole Kessler, setter Maddie Kuber and outside hitter Hannah Schleis – will have their careers honored and celebrated alongside family and friends.

The Mustangs (19-6 overall, tied for second in the Big West at 11-3) swept both UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton last weekend, which gives them 11 three-set triumphs this season (the most since 2007). Cal Poly is 7-2 at home this year and has dropped only one conference match in San Luis Obispo.

The Rainbow Wahine defeated Cal Poly earlier this season on Sept. 26 in three sets and is the highest-ranked opponent to visit the central coast since Oct. 5, 2012 (when UH was ranked No. 8). Cal Poly (then-No.16) hosted Nebraska (then-No.2) on Sept. 25, 2008, which is the highest-ranked opponent to visit the Mott Athletics Center in the last decade (the Mustangs fell to the Cornhuskers in three sets).

FOLLOW THE MUSTANGS THIS WEEK: Live stats will be available for Thursday's match with the Rainbow Wahine, while Hawai'i will also provide a live audio play-by-play feed. Tiff Wells has the call with THIS LINK.

CAL POLY VERSUS HAWAI'I: The Mustangs have battled the Rainbow Wahine 50 times heading into Thursday's affair, having only won four times overall dating back to Sept. 11, 1980. Including the defeat to UH earlier this season, Cal Poly has dropped 10 straight matchups to the Rainbow Wahine, with the last victory coming on Sept. 14, 2006. Cal Poly has never before beaten Hawai'i at home in the head-to-head series.

SCOUTING HAWAI'I: The Rainbow Wahine beat UC Davis on Sunday afternoon in four sets to capture the Big West Conference regular season championship. Hawai'i plays its final four matches of the regular season on the road (also visited UC Irvine on Tuesday and UC Santa Barbara this Saturday). UH has been nationally ranked since the start of the season, which includes its loftiest ranking (No. 6) of the season coming in consecutive weeks (Oct. 26 and Nov. 2). Entering the week, the AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll has the Rainbow Wahine ranked No. 7 for the third straight week. Outside hitter Nikki Taylor is second among conference attackers in kills/set (4.22) and fifth in total kills (325) this season.

MEMORIES WERE MADE HERE: Thursday's match marks the final time three Cal Poly seniors will don the green and gold on their home floor. The trio of Kessler, Kuber and Schleis has combined for career totals of over 700 kills, 1,800 digs and 1,500 assists while playing in a combined 906 sets. Kessler will finish her career No. 4 in program dig history, while Kuber amassed over 1,300 assists and Schleis recorded over 450 career kills.

TURNAROUND MAKES HEADLINES: Cal Poly's 19 victories entering the week are 10 more than last year, which represents the biggest win-loss turnaround since the 2010 season when the Mustangs won 13 more matches than in 2009.

BIG MOVE IN BIG WEST: After winning only four times in conference last season, Cal Poly's 11 wins this season against Big West foes represents a major leap in terms of winning percentage. Not since the 2010 season has Cal Poly made this big a turnaround in terms of total wins in conference-only action.

TO 372 KILLS AND BEYOND: Freshman outside hitter Adlee Van Winden's 372 kills are the most in any single season for Cal Poly since Jennifer Keddy's 442 during the 2011 season. Van Winden's 372 kills are also the most by a Cal Poly freshman since Raeann Greisen led the Mustangs with 359 last season (as a true freshman).

NELSON MOVES INTO FOUR-FIGURE ASSIST CLUB: Heading into the week, Cal Poly sophomore setter Taylor Nelson has amassed 1,002 assists this year, giving her 1,882 helpers in her one-plus seasons. It's also the highest single-season assist total by one Cal Poly player since Sarah Cawrse recorded 1,279 assists during the 2010 schedule.

GREEN AND GOLD 300 CLUB: Van Winden (372) and Greisen (306) are the first Cal Poly duo to record 300 kills apiece during a single season since 2011, when Jennifer Keddy (442) and Kristina Graven (371) each had totals over 300.

LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN: Van Winden has been named the Big West Freshman Player of the Week for a conference-record seven times this season. The outside hitter's kill total (372) and kills/set average (4.00) are both good for third-best among all conference attackers this season.

SERVING UP A TURNAROUND: This season, Cal Poly has totaled 137 service aces compared to only 84 by its opponent. Last year, Cal Poly was felled 158 times by the ace, while only recording 106. The last time the Mustangs delivered a service ace total this high was during the 2013 season when they combined for 139.

BALANCING THE ACE: Cal Poly enters the week with five players currently boasting at least 20 service aces this season, including Nelson (29), sophomore Savannah Niemen (27), freshman Katherine Brouker (22), sophomore Bailey Roach (21) and Van Winden (20). The last time Cal Poly had at least five players with 20+ service aces during a single season was 2007.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES: Entering the week, Cal Poly's .251 hitting percentage is second only to Hawai'i overall this season, while the .251 mark is the loftiest percentage for the Mustangs since before the 2004 season. In stark contrast, Cal Poly hit only .176 last year.

LOOKING AHEAD: Cal Poly concludes its regular season next week when visiting UC Davis for a single conference matchup set for 7 p.m. PT Tuesday, Nov. 24. Live stats will be available for Tuesday's match via