Mustangs begin four-game road trip at UC San Diego, UC Irvine


SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — After earning its biggest win of the season last weekend by beating Hawai’i at home to move to a three-way tie atop the Big West standings, the volleyball team from Cal Poly begins a four-game road trip starting with a pair of matches this weekend.

The Mustangs (10-8, 7-1 BW), winners of five straight games and 10 of their last 11, head south to take on UC San Diego on Friday at 7 p.m. They next face fifth-place UC Irvine on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Both games will be broadcast live on ESPN+. Cal Poly broadcaster Daniel Gillman will also do a live audio broadcast for both games. Links to these as well as live stats for both games can be found on the volleyball schedule page.

Last Saturday in front of a sold-out Mott Athletics Center, Cal Poly defeated Hawai’i 3-1 to hand the Rainbow Wahine their first conference loss of the season and move to a three-way tie for first place in the Big West with Hawaii. ‘I and UCSB. Senior right side hitter Maia Dvoracek tied a season high with 21 kills while hitting a season-high .514 with 15 digs and four aces.

Dvoracek leads the Big West and is 39th in the nation in service aces with 33.

Through the first eight games in the conference, Cal Poly ranks in the top five in the Big West as a team in hitting percentage, opponent’s hitting percentage, assists, kills, blocks, aces and digs.

SEARCH OPPONENTS: UC San Diego is coming off a win over Cal State Fullerton last Saturday that ended a five-game losing streak. Outside hitter Ava McInnes leads Big West in eliminations with 3.79 per set. This is only the third all-time meeting with Tritons, with Cal Poly winning the first two games.

UC Irvine sits 4-4 in the Big West game, which puts them in fifth place. They are 8-1 at home this year, with their only loss to UCSB. Central blocker Onye Ofoegbu leads the Anteaters in both takedowns and blocks. Cal Poly has won 11 of the last 12 meetings and leads the all-time series 51-19.

Straight KILLERS: Redshirt second outside hitter Tommi Stockham and senior right side hitter Maia Dvoracek hold two of the Big West’s top five spots in kills per set. Stockham is averaging 3.77 per set which ranks him second while Dvoracek is fifth with 3.51 per set.

DOUBLE-DOUBLE CAL POLY STYLE: Three Mustangs have recorded at least five double-doubles on the season. Dvoracek leads the team with 11, redshirt freshman passer Emma Bullis has 10 and Stockham has seven.

BLOCK PARTY: Through the first 18 games of the season, the Mustangs are third in the Big West and 35th in the nation in blocks per set, averaging 2.51 per set. Senior Medium Blocker Meredith Phillips is second in the Big West and ranks 38th in the nation in blocks per set at 1.28. Last Saturday, Phillips moved up to seventh all-time in program history in career blocks with 389.

AS IN THE HOLE: Now with 97 career aces under his belt, senior Maia Dvoracek moved up to second all-time in program history with a career ace-per-set average of 0.47. She recorded 64 in 2019, just two shy of Cal Poly’s all-time mark in a single season. She also holds the program record for aces in a game with 8.

CALENDAR STRENGTH: Cal Poly has been testing itself in non-conference games with its first 10 games on the road. Five of them were against teams that made the NCAA Tournament in 2021.

PRESEASON COACH SURVEY: Cal Poly was selected to finish third in Big West’s preseason coaches poll. They were chosen behind two-time defending champion Hawaii and last year’s runner-up UC Santa Barbara. The Mustangs last won the Big West title in 2018.

DVORACEK, STOCKHAM NAMED TO PRESEASON ALL-BIG WEST TEAM: Cal Poly senior right side hitter Maia Dvoracek and redshirt sophomore outside hitter Tommi Stockham were each named to the eight-man preseason Big West Conference squad.

Stockham is back for his second year with the Mustangs after earning all-conference first-team honors last season. The outside hitter led the team and was fourth in the Big West in kills at 3.54 per set. This included posting at least 20 five-time eliminations, six double-doubles, and double-digit eliminations in 16 of 20 conference games.

Dvoracek last played in 2019 due to the cancellation of the 2020 season due to the pandemic and was forced to miss the 2021 season as he recovered from a serious knee injury. She burst onto the scene in 2019 in her first year as a starter. That year, she led the team and finished second in the Big West in takedowns at 4.25 per set in addition to ranking in the top five in the nation in service aces. She was named first-team All-Big West and third-team All-American AVCA, becoming the seventh Mustang in program history to be named to one of three team All-Americans.

GUESS WHO’S BACK?: After being forced to miss the 2021 season while recovering from a serious knee injury, the senior outside striker Maia Dvoracek returns to the Cal Poly range this season.

In her first year as a starter in 2019, Dvoracek averaged 4.25 kills per set overall and 5.09 kills per set in conference games. His 4.25 kills per set ranked second in the conference that year. She also ranked in the top five in the nation for service aces per set at 0.58 and 64 aces overall.

She recorded double-digit eliminations in the last 20 games of the 2019 season and had 20 or more eliminations in seven games, including a career-high 30 against Utah. She also averaged 2.21 digs per set and had seven double-doubles during the year.

She was named AVCA Third Team All-American as well as First Team All-Big West and AVCA Pacific North All-Region

RETURN POWER: Although the program lost seven winning letters from last year’s team, eight are back this year for the Mustangs, including five who went at least 80 sets last season.

Besides Dvoracek and Stockham, several key pieces return. Senior Medium Blocker Meredith Phillipsa three-time All-Big West winner, is back after leading the team last season in blocks (118) and hitting percentage (.310) while second in takedowns (2.40 per set).

Returning for his second season after playing in 111 of 112 sets as a rookie last season, the redshirted sophomore middle tackle Kate Slack. Last season, Slack was second on the team in blocks with 90 and sixth in eliminations at 1.32 per set.

Second year in red shirt Amy Hiatt will be another key part of the Mustangs bench this season. In her first season of action last year, she went 86 sets and finished third on the team with 228 kills. She had at least 10 kills in 10 games. She also finished fourth on the team in blocks with 52.

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