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No. 12 Mustangs Begin Blue-Green Rivalry Friday Hosting UCSB

No. 12 Mustangs Begin Blue-Green Rivalry Friday Hosting UCSB

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — It's hard to imagine that this year's Cal Poly volleyball team could be better than last season, but so far it has been.

Through 17 matches, the No. 12 Mustangs are 16-1, 6-0 BWC this season. Last year's team through 17 matches was 15-2 and finished with the season with a 27-3 record, the best in program history. This year's team is now off to best start since the 1985 team started 18-1.

Cal Poly hosts UC Santa Barbara Friday at 7 p.m. inside Mott Athletics Center for the first Blue-Green rivalry match of the season. Last season, the Mustangs won both matches 3-1.

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

Cal Poly enters the match riding a 15-match winning streak. The Mustangs have also won 23 Big West matches in a row and a program-record 17 straight home matches going back to 2016.

Last weekend, Cal Poly beat Hawai'i 3-1 in its lone match of the week in front of a sold out Mott Athletics Center. It was the second year in a row that match was played in front of a sellout crowd. Prior to last season, the last sellout came in 2006. The win over the Rainbow Wahine gives the Mustangs sole possession of first place in the Big West. It is also the first time in program history that Cal Poly has won three straight matches over Hawai'i.

Junior Torrey Van Winden led all Mustangs with a season-high 29 kills, hitting .344 and recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 14 digs while also adding four blocks. For her efforts, Van Winden earned her third Big West Player of the Week award this season, the fifth of her career.

Also giving the Mustangs a strong contribution was freshman setter Avalon DeNecochea. DeNecochea directed the Mustangs offense to a .257 hitting percentage for the match. She dished out 49 assists on the night, just two shy of tying her career-high. She also added nine digs, three kills and a solo block in her first match against the Rainbow Wahine. She was awarded Big West Freshman of the Week for the second time this season.

The Gauchos (12-7, 4-3 BWC) currently sit in fourth place in the Big West. They are coming off a close five-set loss to Hawai'i last weekend. Junior Lindsey Ruddins leads the Big West and is second in the nation in kills per set with 5.39. She also leads the NCAA in attacks per set at 14.35. Senior libero Emilia Petrachi, who leads the Big West in digs, recently became UC Santa Barbara's all-time digs leader and currently ranks fifth all-time in Big West history.

The Gauchos lead the all-time series 49-30. However, the Mustangs have won the last two meetings and five of the last six.

Mustangs No. 12 In AVCA Top 25: Cal Poly is ranked No. 12 in this week's AVCA Top 25 Poll. That is the highest ranking for the Mustangs since 2008, when they were ranked No. 10 in the preseason poll. Previously, the Mustangs were ranked No. 13. In the AVCA Preseason Top 25, Cal Poly was ranked No. 24, the first time since 2008 Cal Poly was ranked in the Preseason Poll.

In the most recent RPI Poll released by the NCAA, Cal Poly ranks No. 18 in the nation.

After going 27-3 last year, the Mustangs ended the season ranked No. 22 in the final AVCA Top 25 Poll. At one point during the season they were ranked as high as No. 21. In last year's AVCA Preseason Poll they were in the 'others receiving votes' category before breaking into the Top 25 October 9.

DOWN GO THE BRUINS: The 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.

CROSSON HITS CENTURY MARK: Seventh year head coach Sam Crosson recorded his 100th career win earlier this season against UC Davis. In doing so, he became the fourth head coach in program history to reach the century mark.

Cal Poly Picked To Repeat As Big West Champion: After capturing its first Big West title in 10 years, Cal Poly was selected to repeat as the Big West Conference women's volleyball champion after claiming five first-place votes en route to a 77-point total, as voted on by the nine head coaches.

The University of Hawai'i secured the remaining four first-place votes to lock down the second spot with 75 points. UC Irvine followed in the third slot with 62 points, while Long Beach State registered 48 points to rank fourth and UC Santa Barbara was close behind in fifth place with 45 points. The Aggies of UC Davis nabbed 38 points for the sixth spot and was followed by CSUN (30), UC Riverside (18) and Cal State Fullerton (12).

The Mustangs are coming off a year where they posted the program's best overall record of 27-3, a perfect 16-0 Big West Conference mark and an undefeated home record for the first time since 2007. Led by 2017 AVCA Pacific North Coach of the Year Sam Crosson, Cal Poly posted its first NCAA Tournament win since 2007.

HOME SWEET HOME: Cal Poly has won 17 straight matches at Mott Athletics Center, the longest streak in program history. The Mustangs last lost at home Oct. 28, 2016.

STRONG IN CONFERENCE: Dating back to 2016, the Mustangs have won 23 consecutive Big West matches. Last season, they finished a perfect 16-0 for the first time in program history.

GET OUT THE BROOM STICKS: 10 of Cal Poly's 16 wins this season have come via sweeps, including five of their first six Big West matches. Last season, 20 of the Mustangs' 27 wins came via the sweep.

RETURNING POWER: The Mustangs return four players who earned Big West postseason awards this past season 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.

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.

MUSTANGS AMONG NATIONAL AND CONFERENCE LEADERS: Cal Poly leads the Big West in hitting percentage (.284) (11th in the nation), kills per set (13.81) (33rd in the nation), is second in blocks per set (2.22) and opponent hitting percentage (.188) and assists (13.02) (30th in the nation).

Individually, Torrey Van Winden is tied for second in the Big West in kills (5.07 per set), good for seventh in the nation and first in hitting percentage (.369), 45th in the nation. Sophomore Madilyn Mercer is fifth in the conference in blocks (1.04 per set), freshman setter Avalon DeNecochea is second in the Big West in assists (10.17 per set) and senior libero Katherine Brouker is fifth in the Big West in digs (4.41 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.

BROUKER DIGGING THROUGH THE RECORD BOOKS: Mustang senior libero Katherine Brouker is fourth in program history for digs per set, with 3.87.

Last season, she finished fifth in the Big West in digs and was named Big West Defensive Player of the Week Oct. 30.

VAN WINDENS MAKING HISTORY: The sister duo of senior Adlee Van Winden and junior Torrey Van Winden continue to make their marks on Cal Poly volleyball history.

Last season, Torrey finished the year with 4.83 kills per set. That was good for second highest kills per set average in program history. She compiled a total of 488 kills, seventh most in a single season in program history.

Heading into her senior season, Adlee has a career 3.64 kills per set average. She currently sits seventh in program history for career kills per set average.

MUSTANGS ON ESPN3: Cal Poly will have two matches remaining that will air on ESPN3. The next will be October 19 at 7 p.m. when the Mustangs travel to take on CSUN. The final one will be Poly's road match against UC Irvine November 10 at 7 p.m. All of those matches can be watched on ESPN3.com

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 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Upcoming home matches in Mott Athletics Center feature several community events and fan giveaways:

Nov. 16 (Fri., 7 p.m.) • vs. UC Riverside
Faculty & Staff Appreciation Night: All Cal Poly instructors and staff receive up to four free tickets.

Nov. 17 (Sat., 7 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, free ice cream from Doc Burnstein's 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 such as Woodstock's Pizza, Eureka! and VISA, a member T-Shirt, and more upon reaching point levels by checking in at games.