Cal Poly announced Thursday its volleyball schedule for the upcoming season.

The 28-match slate will pit the two-time defending Big West Conference champion Mustangs against 11 other teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season.

They’ll host the cream of that crop – 2006 national champion Nebraska and 2007 runner-up Stanford – at Mott Gym on Sept. 5 and Sept. 20, respectively.

“Our strategy is to be the best in the nation you have to play the best,” Cal Poly head coach Jon Stevenson told the Mustang Daily while the schedule was being assembled.

Last season, the Mustangs made a regional semifinal appearance on the strength of a 23-8 campaign (built on a 15-1 mark against Big West foes) and finished ranked 11th by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

This year, they’ll open Aug. 29 at the Oklahoma Sooner Invitational, where they’ll face Wichita State, Michigan State and Oklahoma.

Cal Poly’s first home action will come at its Paso Robles Marriott Invitational, which will be held Sept. 5-6 and features Tulane, Nebraska and Northeastern.

Then the Mustangs will head to Minnesota’s Diet Coke Classic, held from Sept. 12-14, to take on Notre Dame, Minnesota and Cal.

A final tune-up for conference play will be the Mission Inn of Pismo Beach Invitational, for which St. Mary’s and Stanford will take the court in Mott Gym from Sept. 18-20.

The Mustangs will begin defense of their conference title Sept. 26 at Cal State Fullerton, and finish their regular season with two contests at Hawaii on Nov. 26 and Nov. 28.

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