SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — After closing out the non-conference portion of its schedule 10-1, including two wins over No.9 UCLA, the Cal Poly volleyball team will begin Big West play at home Tuesday against UC Davis.
First serve is set for 5 p.m. from Mott Athletics Center. Links for tickets, video, audio and live stats can be found above, on the schedule page or via the GoPoly Front Row app.
Cal Poly will be looking to repeat as conference champions for the first time since they did it in 2006-07 after finishing a perfect 16-0 last season.
The No. 15 Mustangs (10-1) have won nine matches in a row after a 3-0 weekend at the North Texas Challenge. There, they swept both Mississippi State and North Texas to go along with a 3-1 win over Wichita State.
For the second straight tournament, junior outside hitter Torrey Van Winden was named Tournament MVP while senior outside hitter Adlee Van Winden and freshman setter Avalon DeNecochea were both named to the All-Tournament Team.
For her efforts, Torrey Van Winden was named Big West Player of the Week for the second week in a row. She hit .453 over 10 sets, averaging 6.00 kills per set, 2.30 digs per set, .90 blocks per set and .30 aces per set.
In the opener against Bulldogs, she finished with 17 kills, hitting .364. She then recorded 21 kills and nine digs against the Shockers and rounded out the tournament with her fourth 20+ kill match of the season against the Mean Green with 22 kills while hitting .559. She also added 11 digs against North Texas for her third double-double of the year and posted three aces and three block assists.
Cal Poly heads into the match against UC Davis tied for the longest home winning streak in program history. With two wins over No. 9 UCLA to open the home portion of the schedule, they have won 13 straight matches at Mott Athletics Center dating back to Nov. 11, 2016.
The Aggies (8-4) are coming off a 3-1 road loss to Arizona. They are led by senior Emily Allen, who is averaging a team-leading 4.09 kills per set, fifth-highest in the Big West. They also boast the Big West dig leader in senior Malia Bolko, who averages 5.38 digs per set.
As a team, they rank first in the Big West in opponent hitting percentage (.162) and digs (18.50 per set).
Cal Poly leads the all-time series record against the Aggies 15-12.
Following Tuesday's match, the Mustangs hit the road this weekend for two more conference matches. They will take on Cal State Fullerton on Friday, September 21, at 7 p.m. That match will be aired on ESPN3. A link for that match is available on the schedule page. The Titans (6-6) will take on CSUN Tuesday before playing the Mustangs Friday. As of Monday, they have lost five matches in a row. Cal Poly leads the all-time series 54-10.
The Mustangs will then travel to UC Riverside Saturday to play the Anteaters (5-6) at 7 p.m. UC Riverside will take on Long Beach State Tuesday and UC Santa Barbara Friday before playing Cal Poly. The Mustangs lead the all-time series record 26-8. For links to video and live stats for the match, go the schedule page.
Mustangs No. 15 In AVCA Top 25: After the fourth week of the season, Cal Poly is ranked No. 15 in the AVCA Top 25 Poll. Last week, they moved up eight spots to No. 14 in the poll. That was the highest the Mustangs have been ranked since 2008 when they were also No. 14. In the AVCA Preseason Top 25, Cal Poly was ranked No. 24, the first time since 2008 Cal Poly was ranked in the Preseason Poll.
After going 27-3 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. 21. In last year's AVCA Preseason Poll they were in the 'others receiving votes' category before breaking into the Top 25 October 9.
DOWN GO THE BRUINS: The wins over the No. 9 UCLA earlier this season were the first time Cal Poly beat a top-10 team since 2007 when that team beat No. 9 BYU 3-1. It was also the first time the Mustangs beat UCLA since 1985 and the third all-time.
CROSSON NEARING 100 WINS: Seventh year head coach Sam Crosson currently sits at 99 wins and will be seeking his 100th Tuesday against UC Davis. In doing so, he will become the fourth head coach in program history to reach the century mark.
Cal Poly Picked To Repeat As Big West Champion: After capturing its first Big West title in 10 years, Cal Poly was selected to repeat as the Big West Conference women's volleyball champion after claiming five first-place votes en route to a 77-point total, as voted on by the nine head coaches.
The University of Hawai'i secured the remaining four first-place votes to lock down the second spot with 75 points. UC Irvine followed in the third slot with 62 points, while Long Beach State registered 48 points to rank fourth and UC Santa Barbara was close behind in fifth place with 45 points. The Aggies of UC Davis nabbed 38 points for the sixth spot and was followed by CSUN (30), UC Riverside (18) and Cal State Fullerton (12).
The Mustangs are coming off a year where they posted the program's best overall record of 27-3, a perfect 16-0 Big West Conference mark and an undefeated home record for the first time since 2007. Led by 2017 AVCA Pacific North Coach of the Year Sam Crosson, Cal Poly posted its first NCAA Tournament win since 2007.
HOME SWEET HOME: After the two wins over UCLA to open the home portion of its 2018 schedule, Cal Poly has won 13 straight matches at Mott Athletics Center, tied for the longest streak in program history. The Mustangs last lost at home Oct. 28, 2016.
RETURNING POWER: The Mustangs 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 and Adlee Van Winden were both named to the First Team All-Big West as well as AVCA All-American Honorable Mention. Brouker received Honorable Mention honors and Mercer was named to the Big West All-Freshman Team a year ago.
NEW FACES: This season the Mustangs welcome seven newcomers to the team. They added five freshmen and two transfers, one from Duke and one from Pepperdine.
MUSTANGS AMONG NATIONAL AND CONFERENCE LEADERS: Through the first four weeks of the season, Cal Poly leads the Big West in hitting percentage (.271) (33rd in the nation), assists per set (13.18), kills per set (13.95) and is second in blocks per set (2.22).
Individually, Torrey Van Winden is third in the Big West in kills (4.93 per set), good for 15th in the nation. Sophomore Madilyn Mercer leads the conference in blocks (1.10 per set) and Avalon DeNecochea is second in the Big West in assists (10.32 per set).
As a team, the Mustangs concluded 2017 ranked in the nation's Top 10 in kills per set (2nd - 15.07), assists (4th - 14.06), win/loss percentage (5th - .900) and hitting percentage (7th - .310).
Individually, junior Torrey Van Winden finished sixth in the nation last season in kills per set (4.72), second in the Big West.
BROUKER DIGGING THROUGH THE RECORD BOOKS: Mustang senior libero Katherine Brouker is fourth in program history for digs per set, with 3.79.
Last season, she finished fifth in the Big West in digs and was named Big West Defensive Player of the Week Oct. 30.
VAN WINDENS MAKING HISTORY: The sister duo of senior Adlee Van Winden and junior Torrey Van Winden continue to make their marks on Cal Poly volleyball history.
Last season, Torrey finished the year with 4.83 kills per set. That was good for second highest kills per set average in program history. She compiled a total of 488 kills, seventh most in a single season in program history.
Heading into her senior season, Adlee has a career 3.64 kills per set average. She currently sits seventh in program history for career kills per set average.
MUSTANGS ON ESPN3: Cal Poly will play three matches this season that will be aired on ESPN3. The first will be the road match against Cal State Fullerton on September 21 at 7 p.m. The second will be October 19 at 7 p.m. when the Mustangs travel to take on CSUN. The third will be Poly's road match against UC Irvine November 10 at 7 p.m. All of those matches can be watched on ESPN3.com
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 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.
Upcoming home matches in Mott Athletics Center feature several community events and fan giveaways:
Sept. 28 (Fri., 7 p.m.) • vs. CSUN
Youth Night – all kids 13-and-under receive free admission, with a postgame autograph session with the team courtside.
Sept. 29 (Sat., 7 p.m.) • vs. Long Beach State
Double-Up Saturday, the match is free to anyone showing a ticket for the football game vs. Montana.
Oct. 6 (Sat., 7 p.m.) • vs. Hawai'i
Alumni Night / Blackout – The first 250 fans will receive black Cal Poly volleyball shirts.
Nov. 16 (Fri., 7 p.m.) • vs. UC Riverside
Faculty & Staff Appreciation Night: All Cal Poly instructors and staff receive up to four free tickets.
Nov. 17 (Sat., 7 p.m.) • vs. Cal State Fullerton
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, free ice cream from Doc Burnstein's 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 such as Woodstock's Pizza, Eureka! and VISA, a member T-Shirt, and more upon reaching point levels by checking in at games.
Photo courtesy Owen Main