Although 2010-19 had its ups and downs for Cal Poly Athletics, there were some undeniably historic teams that passed by in the last decade.
The most recent success for Cal Poly has been with its two volleyball programs as the women’s volleyball and beach volleyball teams have established themselves as powerhouses in the Big West Conference. In addition, both men’s and women’s cross country teams and the baseball program have seen consistent success in the last ten years.
The top five teams in this ranking were picked based on overall team record, team accomplishments and individual player achievements.
Here are the top five Cal Poly teams in the 2010-19 decade:
5. 2012 Football
The 2012 football team finished with an amazing 9-3 record, its best of the decade, and finished No. 11 in the FCS Coaches Poll at the end of the season. The Mustangs also captured a share of the Big Sky Championship with Eastern Washington and Montana as all three teams went 7-1 in the conference. Although the Mustangs got an FCS playoff berth, they fell in the second round of the playoffs to Sam Houston State, the eventual runner-up. Mustang slotback Deonte Williams was named the team’s Most Valuable Player and placed on the FCS All-American team after rushing for 1,506 yards and collecting 12 touchdowns during the 2012 season.
4. 2019 Beach Volleyball
The 2019 beach volleyball team won their first Big West title in program history after finishing the season with a 25-12 overall record and a No. 6-ranking in the AVCA Poll. After falling short in the 2018 Big West Championship, the Mustangs defeated then No. 5 Hawaii to capture the conference title. The Mustangs qualified for the NCAA Tournament but were swept by No. 3 Florida State and eliminated by No. 7 Hawaii. Senior Crissy Jones and sophomore Tia Miric were named AVCA Beach All-Americans and earned the Big West Pairs Team of the Year.
3. 2016-19 Men’s Cross Country
The men’s cross country team has built a dynasty in the Big West Conference as they have won the conference title each of the last four years. During this run, Jake Ritter won two consecutive Big West Athlete of the Year awards and was selected as one of the four recipients for the Annual Achievement Award at the Sacramento Running Association’s 2020 Hall of Fame banquet. In addition, Alex Merder was selected to the Google Cloud All-District Cross Country Team at the end of the 2018 season.
2. 2014 Baseball
Six MLB draft selections in 2014 alone, three All-Americans, and a Big West Title highlighted this team’s historic season. The 2014 Cal Poly baseball team was one of the best teams the program has ever produced as the team eclipsed a 47-12 record, a conference title and an NCAA regional appearance. The team’s 47-win year was just the fourth 40-win season in program history and produced the second-highest winning percentage in all of Division I (.797). The team saw multiple players selected in the MLB draft, such as pitcher Matt Imhof, outfielder Nick Torres, outfielder Zack Zehner, pitcher Reed Reilly, third baseman Jimmy Allen and catcher Chris Hoo. The team also held the Big West batting champion that year in sophomore second baseman Mark Mathias with his .386 batting average.
1. 2017 Women’s Volleyball
The 2017 Cal Poly women’s volleyball team lost just three games at 27-3 that season. The Mustangs finished with a perfect 16-0 record in the Big West Conference, which was the first time in program history the Mustangs went undefeated in conference play. During their historic season, the Mustangs captured their first of back-to-back Big West titles and finished the regular season ranked No. 21 by the AVCA Poll. In addition, the Mustangs secured their first NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 2007. In the tournament, the Mustangs defeated Denver in the first round but lost to UCLA in the second. Senior Taylor Nelson, junior Adlee Van Winden and sophomore Torrey Van Winden were named AVCA Honorable Mention All-Americans. Nelson was also named to the Pacific North AVCA All-Region First Team and Big West Player of the Year. Both of the Van Winden sisters were named to the All-Big West First Team.
Honorable Mentions: These teams just missed the cut while achieving plenty of success in their own rights.
2012 Women’s Basketball
The Mustangs went 21-11 (13-5 Big West Conference) and won their first Big West title in program history. The Mustangs also clinched their first NCAA tournament berth in program history as the No. 14 seed. The Mustangs’ historic season concluded with an 85-55 loss in the first round of the NCAA tournament to No. 3 Penn State.
2015-16 Women’s Cross Country
The Cal Poly women’s cross country team won back-to-back titles in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Alongside the men’s team, they have also built a dynasty in the Big West over the last few years.
2018 Women’s Volleyball
Not much separates the 2018 women’s volleyball team and the 2017 team. In 2018, the Mustangs went 25-3 (15-1 conference) and won their second consecutive Big West title. However, the Mustangs’ season ended after a first-round loss to the University of San Diego in the NCAA Tournament.
2014 Men’s Basketball
Despite the Mustangs holding a 10-19 (6-10 Big West Conference) record at the end of the regular season, Cal Poly won the Big West Tournament as the No. 7 seed and appeared in the program’s first NCAA Division I Tournament game. The Mustangs defeated fellow 16 seed Texas Southern 81-69 before losing to No. 1 seed Wichita State 64-37. The Mustangs were led by senior forward Chris Eversley, who was named to the All-Big West Conference second team, and future NBA player David Nwaba.