Cal Poly opens NCAA Tournament Friday versus San Diego

Posted at 3:09 PM, Nov 28, 2018

After winning the Big West for the second consecutive season, making program history with the best start in program history 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 number two seed in the USC sub-regional for a matchup with San Diego at 6:00 p.m. Friday, November 30. The winner of that match will go on to face the winner of the USC-Samford match Saturday, December 1 at 7:00 p.m. in the Galen Center. The winner of Saturday’s match will travel to Wisconsin to take on whichever team comes out of that sub-regional. That sub-regional includes Northern Iowa, Pepperdine, Wisconsin and Green Bay.

Cal Poly held its last practice at Mott Athletics Center on Wednesday before heading to USC. The Mustangs have high hopes for this year’s tournament, but they know they’ll have to take it one match at a time.

“Regardless of the team on the other side of the net, I think our mentality all year has been to focus on our side of the net and get better on our side,” senior outside hitter Adlee Van Winden said. “Yeah, that first game means everything. If you don’t win, you’re out, so we have to stress it a lot.”

“We, as a team, know that every team is absolutely gunning for us because they don’t want to lose too,” senior libero Katherine Brouker added. “We really have to focus on each team and really respect them because they are good players and are good teams. We also know we can beat them if we work hard.”

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 pregame no-host gathering at the Lab Gastropub next to the Galen Center 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.

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 they will take on San Diego in the first round. The Toreros are making their nine straight tournament appearance. They finished the regular season with an overall record of 16-12, finishing 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, with USC winning the last four matches. Samford, out of Birmingham, AL., 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 before 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 season 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 Win- den finished sixth in the nation last season in kills per set (4.72), second in the Big West.

Provided by Cal Poly