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Mustangs Face No. 21 Hawai’i Sunday In Pivotal Road Match

Mustangs Face No. 21 Hawai’i Sunday In Pivotal Road Match

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Coming off its third consecutive win Tuesday night with a sweep at home over CSUN, the Cal Poly volleyball team goes back on the road for a pivotal match this weekend when it travels to Honolulu to take on No. 21 Hawai'i.

First serve from the Stan Sheriff Center on Sunday is set for 7 p.m. PT. Links for live streaming video, audio, and live stats can be found above or on the schedule page.

The Mustangs (16-6, 9-1 BW), are coming off their third Big West sweep in a row after beating the Matadors Tuesday night by scores of 25-19, 25-18, 25-15. Junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek led the way with a match-high 20 kills on a .532 hitting percentage as Cal Poly hit a season-best .411 as a team.

The Mustangs also got strong contributions from senior outside hitters Nikki Jackson and Jessica McRoskey, who both added eight kills apiece. Sophomore middle blocker Meredith Phillips finished with six kills and a team-high three blocks while sophomore setter Avalon DeNecochea dished out a match-high 35 assists and three service aces. Defensively, Cal Poly was paced by senior libero Mika Dickson, who finished with a match-high 16 digs.

The win extended Cal Poly's home winning streak to a nation's-best 29 straight matches. So far this season, the Mustangs are 8-0 at home. It also keeps them tied atop the Big West standings with UC Santa Barbara, who is also 9-1.

For the Rainbow Wahine (18-3, 8-2), they are currently riding a five-match win streak, which began after the loss to Cal Poly on Oct. 11., and sit in third place in the Big West heading into their match against the Gauchos on Friday. They are coming off back-to-back sweeps last weekend on the road against Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine.

The Mustangs swept Hawai'i when the two squared off a few weeks ago at Mott Athletics Center. It was the first time Cal Poly has ever swept the Rainbow Wahine in a match. The Mustangs have also won four of the last five meetings with Hawai'i. However, the Rainbow Wahine won in five sets last season when the teams played in Honolulu. Prior to 2017, Cal Poly had not defeated Hawai'i since 2006. They will also be looking to sweep the season series for just the second time. The Rainbow Wahine lead the all-time series 40-8.

Cal Poly In the National Rankings: In the latest RPI release, Cal Poly is listed at No. 41. Elsewhere in the Big West, Hawai'i is No. 17 while UC Santa Barbara is No. 29.

Mustangs Among Big West and National Leaders: Through eight 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 fifth in the nation and leads the Big West in aces with 49. As a team, Cal Poly ranks sixth in the nation and first in the Big West in aces per set at 1.91.

Currently, the Mustangs rank third in the Big West in blocks at 2.04 per set and in opponent hitting percentage at .189.

Individually, Dvoracek is third in the conference in kills per set at 4.04. Sophomore setter Avalon DeNecochea is third in assists at 9.17 per set. Defensively, junior middle blocker Madilyn Mercer ranks eight in the Big West in blocks .93 per set with sophomore middle blocker Meredith Phillips right behind her in ninth at .91 per set. Senior libero Mika Dickson ranks fourth in the Big West in digs per set at 3.64.

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 29 straight home matches at Mott Athletics Center. That is the longest streak in program history and longest active streak in Division I.

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. 10 of their last 12 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.

Starting Strong: The Mustangs are undefeated this season when they have won the first set. In fact, 15 of Cal Poly's 16 wins this season have come when they won the opening set.

10 of the Mustangs' wins have come via sweep. Five have come in five-set victories and one in four sets.

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 and 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:

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.