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Cal Poly Wraps Up Non-Conference Schedule This Week

Cal Poly Wraps Up Non-Conference Schedule This Week

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Coming off its biggest win of the season last weekend against No. 16 Utah, the Cal Poly volleyball team will close out the non-conference portion of its schedule this week when it heads to Colorado for the Homewood Suites UNC/CSU Volleyball Classic for three matches.

The Mustangs (5-4, 0-0 Big West) will begin the tournament by taking on No. 22 Colorado State Thursday at 6 p.m. PT from the Colorado State campus. They then face Northern Colorado Friday at 6 p.m. PT at the Northern Colorado campus. They wrap up the tournament Saturday against Oregon State at 9 a.m. PT back on the CSU campus.

Live video streaming and live stats will be available for the matches against the No. 22 Rams (7-1) and the Bears (5-4). Only live stats will be available for the match against the Beavers (6-2).

Cal Poly is coming off a strong showing at last weekend's Pepperdine Asics Classic. The Mustangs went 2-1, picking up wins over a strong Pepperdine squad and handed the No. 16 Utes their second loss of the season. They were also just the second team to take a set off of undefeated No. 6 Pittsburgh.

Junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek was sensational for Cal Poly in those three matches. She earned Big West Player of the Week honors after she averaged 4.29 kills per set, 2.43 digs per set, hit .299 and had a total of seven aces. She had two double-doubles on the weekend, bringing her season total up to four. In a five set win over Pepperdine, she finished with a match-high 17 kills, 15 digs and three blocks. The next night, she led the Mustangs to a five-set upset win over No. 16 Utah with a career-high 30 kills while hitting a whopping .414 to go along with 14 digs and three blocks. Her 30 kills are the most by a Cal Poly player since Torrey Van Winden had 30 against Wichita State in 2017.

The Mustangs will begin the tournament by facing their fourth AVCA Top 25 team of the season in No. 22 Colorado State. The Rams are 7-1 and have won their last six matches. They are coming off consecutive wins over No. 19 Colorado last weekend to climb into the AVCA Top 25 for the first time this season after an NCAA Tournament appearance last season. All-time, Cal Poly is 2-6 against Colorado State.

Northern Colorado is 5-4 this season and is coming off a 1-2 record at the San Jose State/Santa Clara tournament. Last season, the Bears went 15-14 overall and qualified for the NIVC postseason tournament. The two programs have only ever met one time, with Northern Colorado winning that match in 2013.

Oregon State is 6-2 this season and comes into the tournament on a four-match winning streak. The Beavers are coming off a 3-0 weekend at the Redhawk Invitational in Seattle. There, they beat New Mexico, Gonzaga and Seattle University. Cal Poly is 7-2 all-time them, with the Mustangs winning the last matchup in 2010.

Mustangs In the National Rankings: In the latest AVCA Top 25 rankings, the Mustangs were in the 'others receiving votes' category and are ranked No. 38.

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.

Mustangs Among Big West and National Leaders: Through the first three 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 33. Her 33 aces are also already more than any Mustang player had the entire season in 2018. As a team, Cal Poly ranks 15th in the nation and first in the Big West in aces per set at 1.97.

Currently, the Mustangs rank third in the Big West in blocks at 2.22 per set.

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).

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.

In total, the Mustangs play four matches against teams ranked inside the AVCA Top 25.

Home Sweet Home: The Mustangs have won 24 straight home matches at Mott Athletics Center. That is the longest streak in program history and second-longest active streak in Division I behind only 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.

Cal Poly has been dominate at home during this stretch. Six of the last seven wins at home have come via the sweep.

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.

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.