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Cal Poly Takes Three-Match Winning Streak to Pepperdine Tournament

Cal Poly Takes Three-Match Winning Streak to Pepperdine Tournament

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Coming off going 3-0 last week to win its own ShareSLO Mustang Challenge tournament, the Cal Poly volleyball team will take its three-match winning streak to the Pepperdine Asics Classic in Malibu this weekend for three matches against teams that all made the NCAA Tournament last season.

In this tournament, the Mustangs (3-3, 0-0 Big West) will face two AVCA Top 25 opponents. Cal Poly opens the Asics Classic Friday at 10 a.m. against No. 6 Pittsburgh. The Mustangs then face the host Waves later in the day at 7 p.m. They then wrap up the tournament Saturday when they face No. 16 Utah for the second time this season at 5 p.m.

Live stats will be available for the matches against the Panthers and Utes. Live stats and live streaming will be available for the match against Pepperdine. Zachary Anderson-Yoxsimer will have the audio call for the matches on Friday against No. 6 Pitt and Pepperdine.

Cal Poly won all three of its matches last week at its inaugural ShareSLO Mustang Challenge. The Mustangs swept North Texas and San Jose State, and beat Wichita State in five sets.

The Mustangs were led in all three matches by junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek. She finished the tournament with double-digit kill numbers in each match and totaled 18 aces. In the win over the Shockers, she finished with eight aces which tied a program record for most aces in a match. She is currently the national leader in service aces with 26. That is already more than any Mustang player had all of last season.

The three wins at home last week also extended their record-setting home winning streak to 24 matches, which is the second-longest active home winning streak in Division I.

Cal Poly's tough test this weekend gets started with the No. 6 Panthers. They have started this season 6-0 after an historic 2018 season that saw them reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Mustangs fell to Pitt 3-1 when the two faced each at the beginning of last season. Cal Poly is 1-1 all-time against the Panthers.

The Waves are 3-3 this year and are coming off a 2-1 record at their tournament last week. They were picked to finish third in the WCC Preseason Poll behind the University of San Diego and BYU. The Mustangs beat Pepperdine 3-1 when the two faced each other in the first match of the season last year. Cal Poly is 24-12 all-time against the Waves.

The No. 16 Utes are 7-0 this season and are coming off wins over UC Davis, Portland State and Utah Valley last weekend. The Mustangs fell to the Utes in the opening weekend of the season in Salt Lake City in five sets, losing 15-13 in the fifth. Cal Poly is now 12-6 all-time against Utah.

Mustangs Earn Preseason Top 25 Ranking: For the second straight year, Cal Poly was ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Preseason Top 25 Poll, capturing the 23rd spot.

After going 25-3 last year, the Mustangs ended the season ranked No. 22 in the final AVCA Top 25 Poll. At one point during the season they were ranked as high as No. 11, the highest ranking the program has had since 2008. In last year's AVCA Preseason Poll they were ranked No. 24.

Cal Poly Picked To Three-Peat As Big West Champion: Coming off its second consecutive Big West championship in 2018, the Mustangs were selected to three-peat in 2019 after receiving five first-place votes and a total of 77 points.

Hawai'i, who finished second last season, was picked to finish second this season. They received four first-place votes and a total of 76 points. UC Santa Barbara (59 points), UC Irvine (52 points), and Long Beach State (46 points) rounded out the rest of the top five.

In the last two seasons, Cal Poly has gone 31-1 in conference matches. This would be the first Big West three-peat in program history. Overall, the Mustangs have won the Big West five times: 1984, 2006, 2007, 2017, 2018.

Tough Non-Conference Schedule: Cal Poly has 12 matches on its non-conference schedule this season. Seven of those matches are against teams who finished inside the RPI Top 50 and made the NCAA Tournament last season.

Home Sweet Home: The Mustangs have won 24 straight home matches at Mott Athletics Center. That is the longest streak in program history and third-longest active streak in Division I behind only Pittsburgh (27) and Stanford (37).

Cal Poly went undefeated at home last season (10-0) for the second straight year. In 2017, they went a perfect 8-0. The Mustangs' home winning streak began Nov. 11, 2016 and last lost at home Oct. 28, 2016 to UC Santa Barbara.

The Mustangs also had the second-highest average home attendance last season amongst Division I schools in California, trailing only Stanford.

Returning Power: Although the program lost two key all-conference players to graduation, the Mustangs return 14 players from last year's team — including five starters.

Reigning Big West Player of the Year and AVCA All-American opposite hitter Torrey Van Winden returns for her senior season. Last year, Van Winden was second in the Big West and third in the nation in kills per set (5.07) and led the conference in hitting percentage (.365). Her 5.07 kills per set was the second-highest single-season average in program history. In addition, she also owns the third-spot in that category for her 2017 average of 4.83.

Junior Madilyn Mercer returns following an All-Big West First Team sophomore season. Mercer led the conference in blocks last season at 1.12 blocks per set. She had a match last season at Hawai'i that saw her total 11 block assists, just two shy of tying a program record. She was also fourth on the team in kills and 10th in the Big West in hitting percentage (.289).

Sophomores Avalon DeNecochea and Meredith Phillips come back looking to continue with the success they had in their rookie campaigns. DeNecochea was named Big West Co-Freshman of the Year (the first Mustang since 2015), All-Conference Honorable Mention and All-Freshman Team after filling the void at the setter position previously held by Taylor Nelson and directing the Cal Poly offense to the best hitting percentage in the Big West and seventh-highest in the nation at .295. DeNecochea was second in the conference in assists per set at 10.32 and was fourth on the team in both blocks and digs.

Phillips, a middle blocker, was named to the Big West All-Freshman Team and All-Conference Honorable Mention after finishing third on the team in kills and second in blocks. She also had the fifth-highest hitting percentage in the Big West at .325.

Mustangs Among Big West and National Leaders: Through the first two weeks of the season, the Mustangs have been one of the toughest teams from the service line. Junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek currently leads Division I in aces with 26. Her 26 aces are also already more than any Mustang player had the entire season in 2018. As a team, Cal Poly ranks seventh in the nation in aces per set at 2.36.

Statistically as a team, Cal Poly was amongst the leaders in multiple categories both in the Big West and nationally last season. The Mustangs ranked first in the Big West in hitting percentage (seventh in the nation) at .290, opponent hitting percentage (.177), kills per set (13.76), assists per set (12.88) and blocks per set (2.45).

New(ish) Head Coach: In December, Cal Poly hired Caroline Walters to become the new head volleyball coach. However, Walters is no stranger to Cal Poly. This is now her 11th year with the program, having been both an assistant coach/associate head coach since 2009.

This is also not her first experience as head coach. Three matches into the 2011 season, Walters was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Mustangs On ESPN3: Cal Poly will play two road matches this season that will be aired on ESPN3. The first will be the match against UC Irvine on September 28 at 7 p.m. The other will be November 15 at 7 p.m. when the Mustangs travel to take on CSUN. Both matches can be streamed on ESPN3.com or WatchESPN.

Follow The Mustangs: Tickets are available at GoPoly.com, by calling (805) 756-4849 or by visiting the sidewalk window at the on-campus Performing Arts Center from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday.

Upcoming home matches in Mott Athletics Center feature several events and fan giveaways:
Oct. 4 (Fri., 7 p.m.) • vs. UC Riverside
Youth Night – all kids 13-and-under receive free admission, with a postgame autograph session with the team courtside

Oct. 5 (Sat., 7 p.m.) • vs. UC Davis
Double-Up Saturday, the match is free to anyone showing a ticket for the football game vs. Montana State.

Oct. 11 (Fri., 7 p.m.) • vs. Hawai'i
High School Volleyball Night / Whiteout – The first 500 fans will receive white Cal Poly volleyball shirts.

Nov. 9 (Sat., 7 p.m.) • vs. UCSB
Blue-Green Rivalry / Alumni Night

Nov. 22 (Fri., 7 p.m.) • vs. UC Irvine
Faculty & Staff Appreciation Night: All Cal Poly instructors and staff receive free tickets.

Nov. 23 (Sat., 5 p.m.) • vs. Cal State Fullerton
Senior Night

Families are also encouraged to sign up for Mustang Kids Club ($10 per child/8th grade or under), as benefits include ongoing free admission to all regular-season soccer, volleyball, wrestling & women's basketball events along with select football, men's basketball and baseball games; plus invitations to exclusive events, birthday cards, and a T-Shirt.

Cal Poly students always get into games for free, and are also invited to join the Stang Gang. Stang Gang — Cal Poly's student fan group — features several rewards for a $10 one-time lifetime registration fee, including prizes from sponsors, a member T-Shirt, and more upon reaching point levels by checking in at games.