Adlee and Torrey Van Winden played on the same volleyball team since they were 7 years old, but that changed last year.
The two sisters started off playing for their mom’s volleyball club, Evolve, in Napa, Calif. where they grew up. Throughout high school, they spent countless hours on the court together as well as in the car, commuting two hours to and from practice when they played for a club team in Davis, Calif.
Choosing to split up
Growing up, the girls were not only surrounded by volleyball, but also by Cal Poly pride. Their mother, Kelly Stand Van Winden, played for the university’s volleyball team and their father, Ardy Van Winden, played for the men’s basketball team.
Kelly Stand also played with current senior setter Taylor Nelson’s mom. All of these factors played a large part in Adlee’s decision to commit to Cal Poly after graduating from Vintage High School in Napa.
Even though the sisters were close, Torrey wanted to challenge herself at a PAC-12 university, deciding to play volleyball at her dream school, UC Los Angeles. After graduating high school a semester early, Torrey began the recruiting process sooner than expected and immediately tried out in spring of 2016 at UCLA.
Couldn’t stay apart
Discomfort with the school, personal reasons and lack of a “true freshman experience” made Torrey feel a bit out of place at UCLA. The game of volleyball itself began to feel foreign to her.
“It’s just that we have this kind of bond on the court, and when I was taken away from that setting it felt like a whole new game to me,” Torrey said.
After one season at UCLA, Torrey decided it was time to transfer. She was not released to the PAC-12 as she had originally hoped, which narrowed down her options to west coast schools: Hawaii, Long Beach State and Cal Poly.
This time around, she was looking for a school that would fit her personal and athletic needs, hoping to play both indoor and beach volleyball at a highly competitive level. Cal Poly gave her all that and, more importantly, the chance to play side-by-side with her older sister once again.
Even though they have a strong bond on the court, Adlee added that the two still bicker off the court, just like
“We fight more off the court, just about clothes and stupid things that sisters fight about, but we definitely are very, very close,” Adlee said.
Helping the team succeed
Junior outside hitter Adlee will continue to play with the Mustangs, this year alongside her sister ,sophomore outside hitter Torrey. The sisters will also compete in the beach volleyball season.
Their parents no longer have to choose which daughter they are going to cheer on, happy both their girls are representing their alma mater, according to their parents.
According to Torrey, their parents aren’t the only ones making the journey to see the sisters’ games.
“We just have an incredible support system,” Torrey said. “Not only are our parents at every game, but we have like 10 to 15 family members at every game and it’s really fun.”
Most important for the tight-knit pair is the feeling of relief found in finally playing on the same team again.
“It’s really nice to have my sister back. Just having that one person I can look at and she knows me inside and out, better than anyone,” Adlee said.
The women’s volleyball team is 15-2 overall and 5-0 in conference play with a 10-game win streak.