Lauren Rabaino

For the record-tying fifth time this year, junior opposite Kylie Atherstone was named Big West Player of the Week.

Having captured the honor Sept. 3, 10, 24, Oct. 22 and now for the week ending Oct. 28, she’s the only conference player to win back-to-back honors twice in one season. Just two players in the Big West’s 24-year history have won nine times.

Atherstone has been awarded Player of the Week eight times in her career.

“She’s done really well this year in conference; she’s turned up her game,” head coach Jon Stevenson said. “She hit her stride at the right time.”

Atherstone’s continuously outstanding performances on the court have helped the team become No. 1 in conference and 23rd in the nation. After defeating Pacific 3-1 on Oct. 26 and UC Davis 3-1 Oct. 27, the Mustangs (16-7, 10-1 Big West Conference) have a seven-game winning streak.

Against Pacific, Atherstone had 26 kills against only four errors, .379 and 16 digs. She also recorded a team-record 12th double-double with a match-high 16 kills and 12 digs..

Unfortunately, Atherstone sprained her ankle in game three against Pacific.

“We need to find out if she’s recovered,” Stevenson said. “We’re in the driver’s seat to win conference; the rest of the season matters more than individual awards.”

Atherstone’s career accomplishments are extraordinary and numerous. In only her second year of play at Cal Poly, Atherstone was one of 20 college athletes selected in March for the United States Women’s National A2 Team (9-2), a training group under the women’s national team. She earned All-Tournament honors at the 2007 USA Volleyball Adult Open Championships in May.

In Spring 2007, Atherstone and setter Chelsea Hayes reached the semifinals of the inaugural eight-team Powerade Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championships in San Diego. They were the lowest-seeded team.

Atherstone was the youngest in 10 seasons to be selected for Big West Conference Co-Player of the Year award in 2006. In the 2005-06 season she was named an All-Big West Conference First Team pick. She was also named an All-America honorable mention selection by Volleyball Magazine and chosen as Cal Poly’s initial AVCA/Sports Imports National Player of the Week after she hit 23 kills against zero errors and a season-high .590 to lead Cal Poly in its first Pacific victory in 21 years.

She ended the 2006 season as No. 38 among all Division I athletes.

Despite her accomplishments, Atherstone remains completely grounded.

“Obviously it feels good, but it’s not really an individual sport,” Atherstone said. “It’s a team and without teammates pushing me and people on the bench, it’s not the whole picture.”

During her career with head coach Tom Melton at Pleasant Valley High in Chico, Atherstone was a three-year letterwinner and Most Valuable Player of the Eastern Atlantic League. She also competed for the Chico Volleyball Academy club program.

Stevenson is pleased with Atherstone’s accomplishments.

“I thought she should have won Player of the Year outright last year,” he said. “She shared it with a Long Beach player. It’s difficult to think of anyone but Kylie to win Player of the Year this year.”

Atherstone, born Jan. 25, 1987 in Chico, is a speech communication major.

“I didn’t know what else I wanted to do,” Atherstone said about her major. “I talked to the coach and since I want to go into coaching, communication skills are important.”

Despite having many responsibilities, Atherstone remains cool about them.

“It’s not about prioritizing; it’s just part of my daily schedule,” she said. “You don’t realize it. It’s what you have to do.”

Her parents, Carmen and Mark Atherstone, as well as Stevenson have a huge role in her success in volleyball.

“Obviously my parents pushed me in sports,” Atherstone said. “And obviously Jon (pushed me too). At a young age I went to a (volleyball) camp he ran.

“I didn’t look at any other schools; I knew I had to be coached by Jon.”

Hayes values Atherstone’s presence on the court for many reasons.

“The thing I admire most about her is that she is a go-to player,” she said. “I have a lot of confidence in her on the court. If we need a kill, I know I can set Kylie and she’ll get it done.”

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