Although the Cal Poly women’s volleyball team was defeated by the Pacific in four games on Saturday, ending a five-match winning streak against the Tigers, their season is not yet at its end.
The Mustangs finished at the Big West Conference with a 10-4, putting the team in third place and possibly giving them a chance to compete at the NCAA National Championship Tournament in December.
“We are the best, biggest turn around story in the country. Last year, the team was 5-25, now we’re hoping to go to Nationals,” coach Jon Stevenson said.
The Mustangs played hard against the Tigers, a team coach Stevenson described as, “a really strong team.”
Last week’s loss also brings the Mustangs to a notable 18-6 record and caused the team to train harder for the last game of the season to host UC Davis this Saturday.
The loss dropped Cal Poly’s record to 18-6 overall and motivated the team for the upcoming game against Davis.
“While it’s been no picnic this season, we’ve worked hard to make it this far,” Stevenson said. “I anticipate that we will win the game this weekend.”
A win against the UC Davis, while not a deciding factor for the championships, is still important for the Mustangs because the NCAA selection committee, who decides which teams will compete at the championship, would likely frown upon a loss to the 4-23 Aggies.
Sophomore setter Chelsea Hayes, predicts the team will lay the Aggies down and remains optimistic of their chances at the qualifying for the tournament.
“We’re a superior team to Davis. It’s just a matter of how we execute and dominate the game,” Hayes said.
At Nationals, the Mustangs’ level competition in the first round would depend on their seed, which could vary depending on how the selection committee interprets the team’s lax pre-season schedule. The team did have significant wins against UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State.
“I hope we get a good draw at the tournament. It’s a little nerve racking during practice to not know for sure, but anything could happen,” Hayes explained.
Senior outside hitter and team captain, Vanessa Gilliam, is hoping to put the Aggies down in straight sets.
“A lot of the girls want to send them home early. I think everyone wants to put the hurt on them,” Gilliam said.
Gilliam also expects a win to boost morale.
“I think winning will be a confidence builder. Ending a scheduled season on a positive note will lead us in with a good attitude for the tournament.”
Stevenson expects a smooth win for the team this weekend and the chances for the Mustangs headed to NCAA tournament are, according to Stevenson, “are very good.”
“I’d stake my reputation when I tell you that this team could play with the top 32 teams in the country,” Stevenson said.
The Cal Poly women’s volleyball team is set to play their final match of the regular season on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. at Mott Gym against UC Davis. The Mustangs topped the Aggies in four in their previous meeting.