SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — The Cal Poly volleyball team will look to build on its historic 2017 season starting Tuesday when it opens its 2018 fall camp at Mott Athletics Center before playing its first match August 24 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania against Pepperdine.
The 2017 Mustangs were the best team in program history. The team finished with the best record in program history at 27-3, a perfect 16-0 in the Big West to win the program's first conference title in 10 years, an undefeated home record for the first time since 2007, the first time sweeping the season series against Hawai'i since 1985 including the first time Cal Poly beat the Rainbow Wahine at Mott Athletics Center, a 22-match winning streak (the longest in program history), being ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 2008 and the first appearance and win in the NCAA Tournament since 2007.
Head coach Sam Crosson was named the Big West Coach of the Year as well as AVCA Pacific North Coach of the Year. Taylor Nelson was named Big West Player of the Year and a total of seven Mustangs made the Big West All-Conference teams.
Although the team lost three important seniors, including two starters, they return four players who earned Big West postseason awards this past season in seniors Adlee Van Winden and Katherine Brouker, junior Torrey Van Winden and sophomore Madilyn Mercer.
Torrey Van Winden finished the season sixth in the nation in kills per set (4.72), second in the Big West. She was also named to the Pacific North AVCA All-Region First Team. Adlee Van Winden finished eighth in the Big West in kills per set (3.32). She also ranked seventh in service aces in the conference (.29 APS). Brouker will once again start at Libero for the Mustangs. She led the team in digs with 407, fourth most in the Big West.
There are six new additions to the team, five true freshmen and one transfer from Duke who will all be competing for playing time. The biggest question for Cal Poly going into the season is how they are going to replace setter Taylor Nelson, who finished her career second all-time in assists in program history with 4,277 and was a four-year starter. Her replacement will be either redshirt freshman Emma Reynolds who appeared in six sets last season, compiling 11 assists and three digs, or true freshman Avalon DeNecochea.
"We are excited about the potential for our team for (this upcoming) season," head coach Sam Crosson said. "We will have a great group of returning players who will provide the team with leadership, a great work ethic, and experience on the court along with a talented group of incoming players. We will be faced with different challenges and dynamics because of the loss of (last year's) seniors and what they meant to the team, but it is exciting as a coach and staff to help create and have an impact on the development of what we think can be a very successful team (this) season. The goal is to always be improving and that's what we expect to do."
Cal Poly will open its season at the Panther Challenge in Pittsburgh. There, they will take on the Waves, Pittsburgh and Butler. They then will travel to Utah for the Utah State Invitational against Loyola Marymount, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Utah State. The Mustangs return home for the first time September 6 and 7, taking on UCLA, who knocked them out of NCAA Tournament last season, back-to-back nights at Mott Athletics Center, the first of 10 home matches this season.
Cal Poly then goes to Texas for its final non-conference tournament, competing against Mississippi State, Wichita State and North Texas. Cal Poly then opens conference play at home September 18 against UC Davis and will play all Big West opponents the rest of the way.
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