The Cal Poly women's volleyball team will have 29 matches this season, including games against Arizona, Notre Dame and Nebraska. Nick Camacho – Mustang Daily

The Cal Poly women’s volleyball team released its 2010 regular season schedule. Twenty-nine matches are scheduled, including games against Arizona, Notre Dame and Nebraska, while attending the Shamrock Invitational, Nike Invitational, Nike Cougar Challenge and Aggie Invitational tournaments.

In eight of these contests, the Mustangs will face teams that made the NCAA tournament last year.

“We play some tough teams but as a senior that’s what I look forward to,” middle blocker Dominique Olowolafe said.

With five returning starters coming back for the Mustangs in 2010, this squad is looking to compete with the best.

“Playing these teams is pretty big for us. We always want a tough schedule in order to challenge ourselves,” junior outside hitter Catie Smith said.

Despite an injury that may sideline sophomore outside hitter Megan McConnell, Cal Poly is also adding another freshman outside hitter, Kristina Graven, to its stacked roster.

“It’s nice to be really deep in the outside hitter position,” Olowolafe said.

The Mustangs are trying to rebound from a 2009 season where they finished 9-20 overall and 5-11 in the Big West Conference. However, with a young team last year 2010 looks to be a turn-around year for Cal Poly.

“With most of the players returning, we are expecting a very different record this year,” McConnell said.

Cal Poly opens the season on Aug. 27 against Arizona tournament play. The competition concludes the following day with a match against Marshall, then a match against Notre Dame — a squad that won the 2009 Big East title.

On Sept. 3, the Mustangs will face BYU at the Cougars home court for the BYU Nike Invitational. Then on Sept. 4, the team plays Nebraska — a team that made it to the East Regional final game in the NCAA tournament last year, as well as Idaho State that same day.

On Sept. 9, Cal Poly will attend the Nike Cougar Challenge at Washington State playing Eastern Washington. Two days later, the Mustangs will face Montana State. The tournament concludes for the Mustangs that same day when they face Washington State.

After that, the Mustangs will head to the Aggie Invitational at UC Davis to face Oregon State on Sept. 17. The following day, competition is completed after a match against Portland.

Cal Poly opens the home portion of its season at Mott Gym on Sept. 19 against Cal State Bakersfield. The Mustangs, although only 5-6 at home in 2009, normally have success at home and hope to bring that success back in 2010.

“We are more comfortable in our own gym and look forward to getting some wins there,” Smith said.

The Mustangs, who were back-to-back Big West Champions in 2006 and 2007, open conference play on Sept. 24 at UC Irvine. The following day the Mustangs continue conference play at Cal State Northridge.

After that, Cal Poly will head back home for a four game stretch in Mott Gym. It starts on Oct. 1 against Cal State Fullerton, then continues to the next day when the Mustangs face Long Beach State — the defending Big West champions.

McConnell said this is a game she and her fellow teammates are looking forward to.

“Long Beach is definitely a rival of ours and I definitely want to beat them,” she said.

The next two home games for the Mustangs will be against UC Riverside on Oct. 8 and UCSB on Oct. 9.

Cal Poly will then travel to UC Davis on Oct. 15 followed by Pacific the next day. The Mustangs return to the Central Coast for matches against Cal State Northridge on Oct. 22 and UC Irvine on Oct. 23.

Cal Poly will then venture on a three-match road trip to face Long Beach State on Oct. 29, Cal State Fullerton on Oct. 30, then UCSB on Nov. 6. The Mustangs end their home schedule with matches against Pacific on Nov. 12 and UC Davis on Nov. 13. The regular season is complete for the Mustangs after a match at UC Riverside on Nov. 19.

The Mustangs goal at this point to be the Big West champions.

“Of course we want to be the champions and make it to the NCAA tournament,” Smith said.

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