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Mustangs Host Final Regular Season Matches This Weekend

Mustangs Host Final Regular Season Matches This Weekend

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Currently in second place in the Big West standings, the Cal Poly volleyball team will play its final two regular season matches this weekend at Mott Athletics Center when hosting UC Irvine on Friday and Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.

The Mustangs (18-8, 11-3 BW) host the Anteaters (5-21, 2-12 BW) on Friday at 7 p.m. for Faculty-Staff Appreciation Night. All Cal Poly faculty and staff receive up to four free tickets to the match. They then host the Titans (12-13, 4-10 BW) on Saturday at 5 p.m. for Senior Night. The five seniors on the team, Mika Dickson, Nikki Jackson, Torrey Van Winden, Jessica McRoskey, and Nadia Retoff will all have their careers celebrated before the match.

Links for live video streaming, audio, live stats and tickets can be found above, on the schedule page or via the GoPoly Front Row app.

After going 1-1 on the road last week, Cal Poly is currently one-match behind Hawai'i for first place and one-match ahead of third-place UCSB. All three teams have two matches remaining in their regular season schedules. The Mustangs still have a chance to win the Big West title for the third year in a row depending on how they and the Rainbow Wahine fare this weekend. If they don't win the conference title and earn the automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament, they still have a strong case to make the tournament with an at-large berth. Coming into this week, their RPI stands at No. 36.

Last week, Cal Poly swept CSUN before falling 3-1 to Long Beach State. The Mustangs have won five of their last seven matches heading into the final weekend on the regular season. Junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek continued her streak of matches with double-figure kills to 16 straight after collecting 12 against the Matadors and 20 against the Beach.

With two more wins this weekend, Cal Poly will hit the 20-plus win mark for the third straight season. It would be the first time that has happened since it was done back in the 1984-86 seasons.

UC Irvine is currently in eighth in the standings and is coming off a 1-1 week last week. The Anteaters beat UC Riverside in four sets and lost to UC Davis in four sets. The Mustangs are 49-18 all-time against UC Irvine and will be looking to sweep the season series for the fifth straight season.

Cal State Fullerton sits in seventh place in the Big West and is coming off a split last week after getting swept by UC Davis before sweeping UC Riverside. As a team, they lead the Big West in digs (17.92 per set) and rank fourth in the conference in opponent hitting percentage (.207). Junior libero Savahna Costello tops the Big West in digs with 5.48 per set while freshman outside hitter Julia Crawford is fourth in the conference in kills at 3.89 per set. Cal Poly has defeated the Titans 11 consecutive matches and leads the all-time series 57-10.

Cal Poly In the National Rankings: In the latest RPI release, Cal Poly is listed at No. 36. Elsewhere in the Big West, Hawai'i dropped to No. 12 while UC Santa Barbara fell to No. 33.

Mustangs Among Big West and National Leaders: Through nine 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 seventh in the nation and leads the Big West in aces with 57. She is also tied for fourth in the nation in aces per set with .60. As a team, Cal Poly is sixth in the nation and first in the Big West in aces per set at 1.88.

Currently, the Mustangs rank third in the Big West in blocks at 2.07 per set and third in opponent hitting percentage at .186. Including only conference matches, Cal Poly holds the top spot in opponent hitting percentage (.156), is second in hitting percentage (.258), and is third in both assists (12.45), and kills (13.36).

Individually, Dvoracek is second in the conference in kills per set at 4.22. Sophomore setter Avalon DeNecochea is third in assists at 9.37 per set. Defensively, sophomore middle blocker Meredith Phillips ranks eighth in the Big West in blocks .95 per set with junior middle blocker Madilyn Mercer behind her in ninth at .92 per set. Senior libero Mika Dickson ranks fifth in the Big West in digs per set at 3.55.

Including conference matches only, Dvoracek leads in kills at 5.04 per set, DeNecochea leads in assists with 10.68 and is third in aces at .34 per set, and Dickson is third in digs with 4.17 per set.

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).

Mighty Maia: Playing in her first year as a starter for Cal Poly, junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek is averaging 4.22 kills per set overall and 5.04 kills per set during conference matches this season.

She also owns the top-two individual performances this season amongst Big West players for most kills in a single match. In a five-set win over then No. 16 Utah on Sept. 14, she had a career-high 30 kills. She nearly matched that in a four-set road loss to then No. 21 Hawai'i on Nov. 3 with 29 kills.

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 31 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. 12 of their last 14 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, 18 of Cal Poly's 19 wins this season have come when they won the opening set.

13 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.

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. 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.