Mustangs take unbeaten conference record to Santa Barbara Saturday

Posted at 11:39 AM, Oct 17, 2019

Coming off its first-ever sweep over then No. 19 Hawai’i at home last week, the Cal Poly volleyball team will embark on the first three consecutive road matches this weekend when it takes its 6-0 Big West record to Santa Barbara to take on second place UC Santa Barbara for a battle for fIrst place.

The Mustangs (13-5, 6-0 BW) will travel to face the Gauchos (15-2, 5-1) on Saturday at 7 p.m. inside the Thunderdome. Cal Poly volleyball radio play-by-play announcer Zachary Anderson-Yoxsimer will be on the call starting at 6:45 p.m. Links for audio, video and live stats can be found above or on the schedule page.

The match will pit the teams who are currently in first and second place in the Big West. This will be the first installment of the Blue-Green rivalry this season. In the last three seasons, Cal Poly has won five out of the last six matches, including the previous four. Overall, the Gauchos lead the all-time series 49-33.

The Mustangs are coming off a 3-0 win over then No. 19 Hawai’i last Friday at Mott Athletics Center. For the third straight year, the match was sold out and help push Cal Poly to its first-ever sweep over the Rainbow Wahine. The win included a comeback victory in the second set in which the Mustangs were down 22-24 before scoring four points in a row to win the set 26-24. Maia Dvoracek led the Mustangs with a match-high 16 kills. She has now recorded double figure kills in her last eight matches. Sophomore defensive specialist Lea Ungar had a career-high 14 digs on her to way to winning her first Big West Defensive Player of the Week award.

The two-time defending Big West champs have now defeated Hawai’i at home each of the last three seasons and have won four of the last five matches overall. It was also the Mustangs’ second win over an AVCA Top 25 team this season.

Cal Poly now switches its focus to a UCSB team that is having one of off to one of its best starts in years. The Gauchos are 15-2 overall and are 5-1 in Big West play. The night after Cal Poly swept Hawai’i, UCSB was swept at home by the Rainbow Wahine, snapping a 13-match winning streak and handing them their first conference loss of the season.

Once again, the Gauchos are led this season by senior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins, who is first in the Big West and 25th in the nation in kills per set at 4.32. She is coming off 12 kills in the loss to Hawai’i. Elsewhere, junior middle blocker Rowan Ennis is first in the Big West in blocks at with a 1.39 per set average and is second in hitting percentage at .375 while sophomore libero Zoe Fleck is second in the conference in digs at 4.03 per set.

As a team UCSB leads the conference in hitting percentage (.258), opponent hitting percentage (.158), assists (12.98), and kills (13.89).

Mustangs Among Big West and National Leaders: Through the first six weeks of the season, the Mustangs have been one of the toughest teams from the service line. Junior outside hitter Maia Dvoracek is currently second in the nation in aces with 45. As a team, Cal Poly ranks sixth in the nation and first in the Big West in aces per set at 1.91.

Currently, the Mustangs rank third in the Big West in blocks at 2.17 per set and fourth in opponent hitting percentage at .193.

Individually, Dvoracek is fifth in the conference in kills per set at 3.84. Sophomore setter Avalon DeNecochea is third in assists at 8.96 per set. Defensively, sophomore middle blocker Meredith Phillips is sixth in blocks per set at 1.00 with junior middle blocker Madilyn Mercer right behind her in eighth at 0.94. Senior libero Mika Dickson ranks fifth in the Big West in digs per set at 3.50.

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).

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.

-Provided by Cal Poly