No. 8 ranked Cal Poly Beach Volleyball is gearing up to start their 2022 season and their journey back to the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive season on Saturday, Feb. 26 at the University of North Florida.
This is the fourth year in a row that Cal Poly has been ranked inside the top 10 in the nation and, to add to that achievement, they are yet again the favorites to win the Big West Conference.
The Mustangs have now won back-to-back Big West titles and are returning 16 total players from the 2021 season, an encouraging sign for the defending conference champs.
When asked about this upcoming season, head coach Todd Rogers highlighted his team’s work ethic ahead of opening weekend in Jacksonville.
“We are out here working hard, we have been working for what seems like forever,” Rogers said. “Feels like we do a ton of practices for a very short season, but the girls are chomping at the bit for sure. They are ready to compete and have been ready to compete for a couple of weeks now.”
Redshirt junior Jayelin Lombard, redshirt senior Tia Miric, sophomore Sam Strah, redshirt senior Mariah Whalen and redshirt junior Eleonore Johansen headline the returning members of the team, as they all were named to All-Big West teams in 2021.
Rogers has been with the program for six seasons, has an overall record of 106-67 and helped the program gain their first tournament win in school history against Stanford last season. Rogers is looking forward to the season and believes the team will not only go to the tournament but could potentially win it all.
“We feel we have the ability and the chops, if you will, to be able to actually win an NCAA championship,” Rogers said.
The team has already found success in this academic school year. Despite it not being an official matchup, the Mustangs had a big win in the fall against defending NCAA tournament champions University of Southern California. Rogers believes this was a compliment to the hard work they have been putting in.
“That was a nice W for sure,” Rogers said. “We were mixing up a lot of lineups in the fall. We were not in any kind of constant lineup like we are now, so that was our first win of the fall. Beating the defending national champions was definitely a little kudo.”
Redshirt junior Erika Foreman is ready to play. She is confident in her team’s ability and is looking forward to starting the season.
“I think we are pretty good,” Foreman said. “We haven’t seen the competition yet, but I’m pretty sure we are going to go out to Florida and kick some butt.”
Although it will be important to get the year started on a high note, the team has its sights set on the national championships in May.
Freshman Ella Connor is in just her first year with the team, but she understands the importance of getting back to the NCAA tournament this season.
“[Getting to the tournament] would mean the world,” Connor said. “It would be so exciting because there are a bunch of seniors on this team and older girls, and I just know how much they want it.”
The Mustangs will continue to play in their home Swanson Beach Volleyball Complex in 2022 and Rogers urged Mustang fans to come out to support the team this season.
“We are a lot of fun to come out and watch,” Rogers said. “We have an awesome venue that gets loud and it gets really electric.”
Cal Poly has their first home game at the Swanson Beach Volleyball Complex on Friday, March 11 and Saturday, March 12 when the team will host San Jose, LMU, Washington and Arizona State.