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Cal Poly Plays Host To UC Riverside Friday, UC Davis Saturday

Cal Poly Plays Host To UC Riverside Friday, UC Davis Saturday

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Off to a 3-0 start in conference play, the Cal Poly volleyball will look for two more wins this weekend when it hosts UC Riverside and UC Davis.

The Mustangs (10-5, 3-0 BW) host the Highlanders (5-8, 1-1 BW) Friday at 7 p.m. inside Mott Athletics Center. Friday is also 'Youth Night' in which all kids 13 and under get into the match for free. There will also be an autograph session with the team courtside following the match.

The match against the Aggies (10-5, 2-0 BW) Saturday will also start at 7 p.m. Saturday's match is the first 'Double-Up Saturday' of the year, meaning any fan who shows a ticket to the Cal Poly football game against Montana State will receive free admission to the match.

Links for tickets, live stats, video and audio for both matches can be found above or on the schedule page.

The Mustangs swept all three of their matches last week to open Big West play. They started with a home sweep over Long Beach State before going on the road and sweeping Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine.

For their performances last week, junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek was named Big West Player of the Week for the second time in the last three weeks and senior libero Mika Dickson earned her first career Big West Defensive Player of the Week award.

Dvoracek averaged 5.56 kills per set while hitting .291 and put up 3.22 digs per set in addition to seven aces and four blocks. Dickson finished with double-digit digs in all three matches, including a career-high 22 digs in just three sets against UC Irvine.

So far this season, Dvoracek ranks first in the Big West in service aces with 42 (tied for second in the nation) and ranks third in the conference in total kills (214). Dickson is currently fifth in the Big West in digs per set (3.40).

Cal Poly has now won its last five matches and has wib nine straight Big West matches dating back to last season, all coming via sweep.

In addition, the Mustangs will be looking to extend their nation's-best home winning streak, which now stands at 25 consecutive matches.

UC Riverside started conference play last week by going 1-1. They started the week with a 3-1 win over Cal State Fullerton before being swept by UC Davis. So far this season, UC Riverside ranks second in the Big West in kills, assists, and digs. Cal Poly is 28-10 all-time against the Highlanders and has won the last 10 matches.

UC Davis is coming off two wins last week to begin Big West play. The Aggies started by beating UC Irvine in five sets before sweeping UC Riverside. So far this season, Davis ranks second in the conference in service aces, behind Cal Poly. The Mustangs lead the all-time series 17-12 and have won the last six matches.

Mustangs Among Big West and National Leaders: Through the first four weeks of the season, the Mustangs have been one of the toughest teams from the service line. Junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek is currently tied for second in the nation in aces with 42. Her 42 aces are also more than any Mustang player had the entire season in 2018. As a team, Cal Poly ranks 10th in the nation and first in the Big West in aces per set at 1.89.

Currently, the Mustangs rank third in the Big West in blocks at 2.27 per set.

Individually, Dvoracek is sixth in the conference in kills per set at 3.75. Junior middle blocker Madilyn Mercer ranks eighth in the Big West in hitting percentage at .308. Defensively, sophomore middle blocker Meredith Phillips is seventh in blocks per set at 1.04 with Mercer right behind her in eighth at 0.96. Meanwhile, senior libero Mika Dickson ranks fifth in the Big West in digs per set at 3.40.

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 had 12 matches on its non-conference schedule this season. Seven of those matches were against teams who finished inside the RPI Top 50 and made the NCAA Tournament last season.

The Mustangs ended non-conference with a 7-5 record, including a win over then No. 16 Utah.

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

Home Sweet Home: The Mustangs have won 25 straight home matches at Mott Athletics Center. That is the longest streak in program history and longest active streak in Division I behind

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 they last lost at home Oct. 28, 2016 to UC Santa Barbara.

Cal Poly has been dominate at home during this stretch. Seven of the last eight wins at Mott 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.