Ryan Chartrand

After his team defeated Cal Poly 3-1 Saturday night to advance to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament, Cal volleyball head coach Rich Feller was asked at a press conference what his impressions were of Cal Poly.

Without hesitation, Feller replied, “Fantastic fans. Great crowd.”

He continued about how the Mustangs have “some great weapons, a great system going,” but his first thought being about Cal Poly’s fan base speaks volumes.

After all, Cal Poly set home attendance records for volleyball on consecutive nights over the weekend.

A near-sellout crowd of 2,965 came to watch the Mustangs eliminate Michigan 3-1 Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

That mark was eclipsed by a sellout crowd of 3,032 who saw Cal Poly’s landmark season end Saturday night with a 3-1 second-round loss to Cal.

Among the Mustang Maniacs in attendance Saturday night was a group of men wearing green and gold paint on their faces and chests – the paint on their chests spelling out, “G-O-P-O-L-Y-!” They held cardboard signs that read, “Killah Ky #5” and “Waller is a Baller,” in reference to Cal Poly’s duo of sophomore outside hitters, Kylie Atherstone and Alicia Waller.

To the right of this mosh pit was the Mustang Marching Band, whose own face-painted members made their presence felt with every point.

Some might think the record-setting home crowds for volleyball had more to do with the NCAA Tournament being in town than anything else.

Here’s why they are wrong:

On the season, Cal Poly averaged 1,611 fans in 10 home matches. Compare that to averages of 612 fans in 11 home contests in 2005 and 306 fans in 12 home dates in 2004.

Long before the tournament, way back on Oct. 14, Cal Poly drew its biggest home volleyball crowd in 17 years – 2,468 – to see the Mustangs sweep rival UC Santa Barbara.

It can now officially be said that volleyball is the hottest ticket to Mott Gym on campus.

The volleyball team’s average home attendance of 1,611 is more than current season averages for men’s basketball (1,309) and women’s basketball (285).

As a matter of fact, in women’s volleyball, 17th-ranked Cal Poly averaged more fans per home match this season (1,611) than No. 4 UCLA (1,355) and No. 6 USC (1,068).

All this coming on the heels of a football season that saw four of the top 24 home crowds in the 91-year history of that program. At home football games this season, the Mustangs had their third-largest (9,042), seventh-largest (8,435), 15th-largest (8,168) and 24th-largest (7,867) home crowds ever.

And the crowds at home football games will likely continue to grow now that renovations to Alex G. Spanos Stadium are finally complete. It now seats roughly 11,775, which if filled to capacity would shatter the record of 9,387, set in 2004 against UC Davis.

So ride high, you Mustang Maniacs.

This fall, you sang your own fight song.

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