SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — After winning the Big West for the second consecutive season, making program history with the best start in program annals this season at 19-1 and sweeping the Big West postseason awards, the Cal Poly volleyball team heads into its second consecutive NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 seed in the USC sub-regional for a matchup with San Diego at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30. Winner of the first-round match will go on to face the winner of the USC-Samford match Saturday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. in the Galen Center.
Both matches will be available for streaming at this link. Live stats and audio links are available on the volleyball schedule page.
For fans who will be making the trip to Los Angeles or who live in the area, there will be a pregame no-host gathering at the Lab Gastropub next to the Galen Center on Friday from 4-5:30 p.m. If the Mustangs win, there will be a pregame social with hosted appetizers and no-host cocktails Saturday at the Lab Gastropub from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The address is 3500 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007.
For those on the Central Coast, there will be a watch party for both matches at Milestone Tavern in San Luis Obispo starting a half-hour before the start of each match. The address for Milestone Tavern is 972 Foothill Blvd., San Luis Obispo, CA 93405.
MEDIA ADVISORY; WE ARE CAL POLY: When referring to Cal Poly and its Division I athletic teams, please use "Cal Poly" or "Cal Poly Mustangs" only. These are the only names referencing the university that are registered with and approved by the NCAA. Incorrect names that should NOT be used include; Cal Poly SLO, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal State Poly, Cal Polytech, California Poly, Cal Tech, Cal State, San Luis Obispo, CPSU, Cal-Poly (no hyphen, please) or UC San Luis Obispo.
FOLLOW CAL POLY IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Max Milander will have the call for Friday's first-round match against San Diego beginning at 5:45 on ESPN Radio 1280 in San Luis Obispo County and via GoPoly.com. If the Mustangs win and play Saturday at 7 p.m., that match will also air on ESPN Radio 1280 and via GoPoly.com starting at 6:45. That link, along with live stat and streaming links for both matches, will be available via GoPoly.com.
USC SUB-REGIONAL INFORMATION: USC earned the No. 11 seed for the NCAA Tournament and will host the first and second round. Cal Poly is the No. 2 seed in the USC sub-regional where the Mustangs will take on San Diego in the first round. The Toreros are making their ninth straight tournament appearance. They finished the regular season with an overall record of 16-12, placing third in the WCC. They currently have an RPI of 47. Cal Poly's current RPI is 25. This will be the 17th meeting all-time with San Diego. San Diego has won the last four, with the last in 2012 at a tournament hosted by USC. The Trojans concluded their regular season with a 21-10 overall record. They finished third in the Pac-12 Conference standings with a 13-7 mark. Cal Poly is 5-13 all-time against USC, with the last meeting coming in 2012, USC winning the last four matches. Samford, out of Birmingham, Alabama, finished the regular season 19-14 and claimed the Southern Conference's automatic bid by virtue of winning its conference tournament. The Bulldogs are making their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance. Cal Poly has never faced Samford.
RECAPPING THE 2018 SEASON: The 2018 Mustang volleyball team finished the regular season with a 25-2 overall record and 15-1 in the Big West for its fifth conference title in program history and second in a row. It is the first time since 2006-07 that the Mustangs have won consecutive conference titles. After falling in its second match of the season at then No. 20 Pitt, Cal Poly won its next 18 matches for the best start in program history at 19-1. Its only other blemish came in a five-set road loss to Hawai'i. Cal Poly then won its final six matches to clinch the Big West crown. They ended the regular season ranked No. 13 in the AVCA Top 25 poll.
PAST NCAA TOURNAMENT APPEARANCES: Although Cal Poly is making its 16th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the Mustangs have failed to advance past the third round in any showing. The lengthiest runs came in 1982, 1983, 1985 and 2007 as Cal Poly won its first two matches each of those years before falling. The Mustangs are 14-15 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. Last year, Cal Poly won its first match against Denver 3-0 be- fore falling in the second round to UCLA 3-1. The previous appearance before last year was in 2007. That year saw them win their first two matches against Xavier and Purdue before falling to Stanford. Overall, Cal Poly has won its opening-round match on ten occasions.
MUSTANGS AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS: Cal Poly, which boasts one of the most prolific offenses in the nation, finished the regular sea- son leading the Big West in hitting percentage (.295) (seventh in the nation), kills per set (13.87) (34th in the nation), assists (12.95) (34th in the nation), blocks per set (2.47) and opponent hitting percentage (.174).
Individually, Torrey Van Winden was second in the Big West and third in the nation in kills (5.07 per set), and first in hitting percentage (.365), 44th in the nation. Sophomore Madilyn Mercer led the conference in blocks (1.11 per set), freshman setter Avalon DeNecochea was second in the Big West in assists (10.32 per set) and senior libero Katherine Brouker was fourth in the Big West in digs (4.58 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.
BEST START IN PROGRAM HISTORY: The Mustangs started the season 19-1. That is the best start in program history, eclipsing the 1985 team that began 18-1. Last year's team, which finished as the best in program history at 27-3, began 18-2 through 20 matches.
DOWN GO THE BRUINS: The two 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.
RETURNING POWER: The Mustangs return four players who earned Big West postseason awards in 2017 in seniors Adlee Van Winden and Katherine Brouker, junior Torrey Van Winden and sophomore Madilyn Mercer. Torrey and Adlee 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.
CROSSON HITS CENTURY MARK: Seventh year head coach Sam Crosson recorded his 100th career win earlier this season in a home win against UC Davis. In doing so, he became the fourth head coach in program history to reach the century mark. Overall for his career at Cal Poly, Crosson has a 114- 82 record.
MUSTANGS NO. 13 IN AVCA TOP 25: Cal Poly moved up one spot in the most recent AVCA Top 25 Poll to No. 13 after being No. 14 previously. Earlier this season, The Mustangs were ranked No. 11 which was the highest ranking since 2008 when they were ranked No. 10 in the pre- season poll. In the AVCA Preseason Top 25 this season, Cal Poly was ranked No. 24, the first time since 2008 Cal Poly was ranked in the Preseason Poll. The Mustangs were ranked in the Top 25 the entire season. In the most recent RPI Poll released by the NCAA, Cal Poly ranks No. 25 in the nation.
HOME SWEET HOME: Cal Poly went 10-0 at home this season and has won 19 straight matches at Mott Athletics Center, the longest streak in program history. They finished a perfect 8-0 last season. The Mustangs last lost at home on Oct. 28, 2016.
GET OUT THE BROOM STICKS: Eighteen of Cal Poly's 25 wins this season have come via sweeps, including 13 of its 16 Big West matches, and the Mustangs have only dropped five sets in conference play and 12 sets the entire season. Last season, 20 of the Mustangs' 27 wins came via the sweep and they only lost eight sets in Big West play.
STRONG IN CONFERENCE: The Mustangs are 31-1 in Big West matches the past two seasons. The only loss in that span came in a road match against Hawai'i on October 26. Last season, they finished a perfect 16-0 for the first time in program history.
POSTSEASON HONORS: Six Mustang players and head coach Sam Crosson all took home postseason Big West Conference honors this season. Junior opposite hitter setter Torrey Van Winden was named Big West Player of the Year. She is the second straight Mustang to earn the honor and the fifth overall. Head coach Sam Crosson was awarded Big West Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year after guiding the Mustangs to its second straight conference title. Crosson becomes the second coach in Cal Poly history to take home the award two straight years. Van Winden, along sister Adlee Van Winden and Madilyn Mercer were all named First Team All-Conference. Torrey Van Winden for the second time in her career, Adlee Van Winden for the third and the first for Mercer. Junior libero Katherine Brouker was an honorable mention for the second straight year and freshmen Avalon DeNecochea and Meredith Phillips were named to the Big West All-Freshman Team and Big West Honorable Mention.
NEW FACES: This season the Mustangs welcome seven newcomers to the team. They added five true freshmen and two transfers, one from Duke and one from Pepperdine.