Cal Poly opens NCAA Tournament Friday versus Denver at 5:30 p.m. - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Cal Poly opens NCAA Tournament Friday versus Denver at 5:30 p.m.

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After an historic 2017 regular season that included the program's first Big West Conference title since 2007, a perfect 16-0 conference record for the first time in program history and currently riding a 21-match win streak, the longest in program history and currently the second longest in Divsion I, the Cal Poly volleyball heads into its first NCAA Tournament since 2007 as the number two seed in the UCLA sub-regional for a matchup with Denver at 5:30 p.m. Friday, December 1. The winner of that match will go on to face the winner of the UCLA-Austin Peay match Saturday, December 2 at 7:00 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion. The winner of Saturday's match will travel to Florida to take on whichever team comes out of that sub-regional. That sub-regional includes Alabama State, College of Charleston, Florida and Miami (FL).

UCLA SUB-REGIONAL INFORMATION: UCLA earned the No. 15 seed for the NCAA Tournament and will host the first and second round. Cal Poly is the No. 2 in the UCLA where they will take on Denver in the first round. The Pioneers are making their fourth straight tournament appearance. They finished the regular season with an overall record of 23-5, winning both the Summit League regular and tournament titles. They currently have an RPI of 54. Cal Poly's current RPI is 16. This will be the third meeting all-time with Denver. The Mustangs won both prior meetings by a score of 3-1. The last meeting was on Sept. 11, 2009. The Bruins concluded their regular season with a sweep of rival USC to finish with a 19-10 overall record. UCLA tied for fifth in the Pac-12 Conference standings with a 12-8 mark. Cal Poly is 1-10 all-time against UCLA, with the last meeting coming in 1985. Austin Peay, out of Clarksville, Tenn., finished the regular season 30-5 and claimed the Ohio Valley Conference's automatic bid by virtue of winning its third OVC Tournament title. The Governors are making their second NCAA Tournament appearance. Cal Poly has never faced Austin Peay. To purchase tickets for the first and second round matches at Pauley Pavilion, click here.

RECAPPING THE 2017 SEASON: The 2017 Mustang volleyball team finished the regular season with a 26-2 overall record, the best season in program history. They also went a perfect 16-0 in the Big West to capture its first conference title since 2007 and fifth in program history. The undefeated record in the Big West is the 11th time that has happened in conference history. Cal Poly's only two losses this season came on the road this season against Top 25 teams in No. 8 Washington and No. 14 Oregon. They beat then No. 24 Wichita State in a 3-2 comeback victory, finishing non-conference play 10-2. In conference play, they beat Hawai'i both meetings for the first time since 1985 and the first ever win at home. Both matches went five sets to give the Mustangs a 3-0 record in five-set matches this season. On senior day, they swept UC Irvine to win a share of the conference title. A 3-1 win the following week over UC Riverside clinched sole possession of the conference title.

PAST NCAA TOURNAMENT APPEARANCES: Although Cal Poly is making its 15th 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 13-14 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. Their last appearance in 2007 saw them win their first two matches against Xavier and Purdue before falling to Stanford. In the 14 prior tournament appearances, Cal Poly has won its opening-round match on eight occasions.

MUSTANGS AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS: Throughout the season, Cal Poly has been among the national leaders, both as a team and individually. As a team, the Mustangs rank second in the nation in kills per set (15.13), fourth in assists per set (14.09) and sixth in hitting percentage (.314). They ranked first in the Big West in all three categories. Individually, senior setter Taylor Nelson ranks fifth in the nation in assists per set (11.90), sophomore outside hitter Torrey Van Winden ranks ninth in kills per set (4.69) and senior Savannah Niemen is 17th in hitting percentage (.398). Nelson and Niemen were both tops in the Big West while Torrey Van Winden finished second in the conference in kills per set.

BEST SEASON IN PROGRAM HISTORY: At 26-2 and finishing a perfect 16-0 in the Big West, this is the best season in program history. They surpassed the 1985 Mustang team that finished 31-8, losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

NELSON IN THE RECORD BOOKS: For the third consecutive season, senior setter Taylor Nelson surpassed the 1,000 season assist mark. For her career she has 4,203 assists, good for third all-time at Cal Poly. She is one of only three Mustangs to reach 4,000 career assists.

MUSTANGS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS: For the eighth consecutive week, the Mustangs were ranked in the AVCA National Top 25 Poll at No. 21. Prior to this season, the last time Cal Poly was ranked inside the top 25 was week six of the 2008 season when they were No. 22 in the country. The highest the Mustangs were ranked this season was No. 21. They finished the season with the No. 16 RPI.

HOME SWEET HOME: Cal Poly finished a perfect 8-0 at Mott Athletics Center this season for the first time since 2007, which included a 3-2 victory over Hawai'i in the first sellout crowd since 2006.

GET OUT THE BROOM STICKS: 19 of the Mustangs' 26 wins this season came via sweeps. They have only had three five-set matches, winning all three (Hawai'i twice, Wichita State) and four four-set matches (UCSB twice, Long Beach State, UC Riverside).

POSTSEASON HONORS: Seven Mustang players and head coach Sam Crosson all took home postseason Big West Conference honors this season. Senior setter Taylor Nelson was named Big West Player of the Year. She is the first Mustang to be named player of the year since 2011 and the fourth overall. Head coach Sam Crosson was awarded Big West Coach of the Year after guiding the Mustangs to its first conference title in 10 years and a program-best 26-2 record and 16-0 record in the Big West. Crosson becomes the third coach in Cal Poly history to take home the award. Nelson, along with fellow seniors Raeann Greisen and Savannah Niemen as well as sophomore Torrey Van Winden and junior Adlee Van Winden were all named to the Big West All-Conference First Team. Nelson for the third time in her career, Greisen for the third time, Adlee Van Winden for the second, Savannah Niemen and Torrey Van Winden for the first time. Junior libero Katherine Brouker was an honorable mention and freshman middle blocker Madilyn Mercer was named to the Big West All-Freshman Team.

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