“Execution over emotion” is the mantra Cal Poly Volleyball seems to be following to build on its recent success. For the past three years, the team has continued to break records with its dominant performance, and they do not appear to be slowing down.
The team finished this season’s non-conference play 10-1 and will be bringing the momentum from a nine game winning streak into Big West Conference play next week. Already predicted to win repeat as Big West Conference Champions, this early success has moved the Mustangs from the No. 22 rank to No. 15 in NCAA Division I.
The Mustangs’ season began with the opportunity for revenge, taking on UCLA for two widely anticipated matches at Mott Athletics Center (building 42). UCLA had eliminated Cal Poly from the 2017 NCAA Championship, where the Bruins took a 3-1 win in the second round of the tournament.
On Thursday, Sept. 6 at Cal Poly’s home opener, the Cal Poly team rallied around junior outside hitter Torrey Van Winden for a 3-1 win over the then-No. 9 UCLA.
“We all had a way better headspace going into things and we had a lot more time to prepare ourselves,” Van Winden, who led the match with 18 kills, said following the game. “We chose execution over emotion tonight.”
Despite the challenge of going up against a UCLA team that is known for its strong defense, Van Winden knew the Mustangs could find a win by constantly out-working the Bruins.
“Execution over emotion, execution over emotion. Be the aggressor,” was the mindset of the Mustangs, according to Van Winden, who also credited the coaching staff for the information and instructions they gave.
“Our coaching staff is one of the toughest in the country, they’re gnarly in the gym,” Van Winden said.
Head coach Sam Crosson repeated the mantra.
“I was impressed with our ability to just be composed,” Crosson said. “One of the things we talked about was to not let our emotions take over our execution. This was a good match for [the team] to show that it’s not about how much I want to win, but can I be in the moment focused, understand what my responsibilities and roles are and then go out and execute those to the best of my ability.”
The following day, the Mustangs took another 3-1 win over the Bruins, with Van Winden recording 26 kills.
The team is building on its incredible performance last season, when Cal Poly finished 27-3 overall and 16-0 in conference. This was the first Big West Conference shutout in 10 years and Cal Poly’s best season record to this date. Since 2007, the team had not been able to win every home game. That changed last season after the team brought high energy and aggression to find its Mott magic and win all eight games at home.
Overall last year the team had 1522 kills averaging about 15 kills per set, with a hitting percentage of 0.310. Since the beginning of the 2018 season, Torrey Van Winden has made 197 kills, with senior outside hitter Adlee Van Winden recording 127 kills. Both girls have also completed eight serve aces.
This past summer, the Cal Poly beach volleyball women, Torrey Van Winden and Emily Sonny ventured out to the World University Games in Munich Germany, defeating Switzerland to take home the bronze medal. This was a big accomplishment for the two Mustangs, as they played against 32 teams from 29 different countries
The Mustangs are also looking forward to this season with the new freshmen who have added talent and depth to the team. Freshman middle blocker Meredith Phillips has already brought some heat to the team with 60 kills so far.
The next chance to see the Mustangs’ “execution over emotion” in action is the Big West Conference opener, when Cal Poly hosts UC Davis on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at home. Cal Poly will then travel to play Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside over the weekend.
Cal Poly will host Hawai’i in a must-watch game on Saturday, Oct. 6 in Mott Athletics Center. Last season, this match brought an intense five-set game and Cal Poly’s first sellout crowd since 2006, as the Mustangs took down for the Rainbow Wahine for the first time since 1985. Last year Hawai’i finished second in the Big West Conference, with their only loss to the Mustangs, so this will be a very competitive match you will not want to miss.