The Cal Poly women’s volleyball team boasts a (15-6, 5-3 Big West) record this year, but it seems the word hasn’t spread.
Biological sciences sophomore Jamie Martin has never attended a women’s volleyball game.
“It’s not that I have anything against volleyball, it’s just that when I think of a typical college game to watch, I go to football or basketball,” Martin said.
Martin is not alone.
Out of 120 students polled, 76 have gone to a Cal Poly football game while only 13 students said they have gone to a women’s volleyball match. Last week, 1,855 fans attended the Cal Poly vs. UC Santa Barbara match in Mott Gym. In comparison, 7,345 fans showed up to the Cal Poly football team’s season opener — two weeks before school started.
Those who have attended games talk about the excitement of volleyball. Business administration senior Daniel Schwartz tries to go to as many volleyball games as he can. And if he can’t make a game, he checks online for the results the next day.
“I feel that Cal Poly goes under the radar and we beat these teams out of nowhere,” Schwartz said. “My friend and I go to the games and yell stupid things at the opposing team to mess with their heads. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make the UC Santa Barbara game and we secretly blame Cal Poly’s loss on us for not being there to throw off UCSB’s performance.”
Assistant coach Justin Hutchins said volleyball is an exciting sport to watch; he has been with the team since April after being an assistant coach at Utah Valley University.
“Division-I women’s volleyball is the most exciting sport to watch,” Hutchins said. “You get good athletes, lots of rallies that are fast paced and there’s scoring on every ball. I think that’s just a showcase of athleticism at its highest level.”
Not only do some think Cal Poly women’s volleyball is entertaining to watch, others said the game brings the San Luis Obispo community together. Director of Athletics Alison Cone has been with Cal Poly for 16 years. During her time, she has witnessed fluctuations in attendance.
“The excitement of the game translates to the community,” Cone said. “There’s high quality volleyball, there’s the band and it’s fun in the gym. I’d like to see attendance rise especially as the team continues to have such high success.”
In 2006, people were turned away. During an NCAA second-round match, Mott Gym experienced a sellout crowd with more than 3,000 fans as Cal Poly faced California. Though Cal Poly fell to Cal 3-1, the game set a precedent for future attendance.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that if we get in the NCAA, which we have a good chance of doing, this community would come together and Mott Gym would sell out again,” Cone said.
Selling out Mott Gym has an impact on the game.
“Other teams already hate coming to Mott Gym just because we have such an advantage, but when we have it full of fans, the girls thrive off that energy and it really does make a difference,” Hutchins said.
The team averages 13.53 kills per set, 14.82 digs per set and 2.21 blocks per set. The team’s success also includes a .253 hitting percentage.
Outside hitter Kristina Graven averages 3.79 kills and 2.83 digs per set this season. She earned Women’s Volleyball Player of the Week for the first time since since Kylie Atherstone on Sept. 22, 2008.
“It’s always exciting when there’s a turnout,” Graven said. “It’s nice to have the support of fans, and I hope it’s entertaining for them to watch.”
Middle blocker Jennifer Keddy is the team’s top blocker with 1.07 blocks per set. She averages 2.83 kills and hitting .377 this season.
“There’s a better energy seeing everyone in the crowd,” Keddy said. “It helps us come together as a team.”
The team returns to Mott Gym Friday to hosts Cal State Northridge in a Big West Conference match at 7 p.m. Student admission is free with Poly Cards; tickets are $7 for general admission.