Sometimes it pays to be defiant. Just ask Dominique Olowolafe.

The middle blocker for the Cal Poly women’s volleyball team has a “refuse to lose” attitude that allowed her to shine last season as a freshman.

In late March, Olowolafe landed a spot on this year’s United States Women’s National A2 Team, the elite training squad below the women’s national team itself.

Olowolafe’s membership marks the second consecutive year a Mustang will have graced the team. She’ll compete at the USA Adult Open Championships, which will be held May 24 to May 31 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

“It’s really exciting,” Olowolafe said. “I’m looking forward to playing with some of the best collegiate athletes in our nation.”

Last year Olowolafe earned All-Big West Conference Freshman Team honors after finishing her initial season seventh in the Big West with 1.23 blocks per game.

Add to that an impressive performance at the USA National Team tryout camp in February, and Olowolafe all but guaranteed herself a spot on this year’s A2 team.

“I tell myself, ‘I can’t lose,’” Olowolafe said. “I’m always trying to beat the odds and go against the grain.”

Last year, Mustangs opposite Kylie Atherstone was part of the A2 team.

Atherstone, now entering her senior season, was invited back this year, but has declined to attend, saying she didn’t expect to be called back a second time and thus didn’t prepare for the two weeks off from school needed to play in May.

“When I got the invite to return this year, it was a big surprise,” Atherstone said. “I wasn’t able to talk to my teachers and prepare for it in advance. But it’s an honor to get invited back. Last year it was so much fun.”

Olowolafe, however, will definitely be attending.

“I’m ecstatic,” she said. “A2 is such an awesome program.”

Originally from Lansing, Mich., Olowolafe started playing volleyball in middle school at the suggestion of a teacher who told her she was “made for it.”

Despite the challenges of balancing school with sports, Olowolafe enjoys the discipline required to excel.

“It’s definitely hard – I don’t have a lot of free time,” Olowolafe said. “But I work better that way. I like the structure.”

After competing on the A2 team, Olowolafe hopes next year she will make the national team and compete overseas during the off-Olympic season.

Her dream is to one day compete in the Olympics.

“Sometimes when people don’t believe in you, you have to believe in yourself,” she said. “You have to believe that you can do it.”

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