The Cal Poly women’s volleyball team is just two games into its conference schedule, but has already tallied more wins during this early season than all of last year. Currently, the Mustangs are (12-3, 2-0 Big West), compared to a 9-20 record from the previous season.
“I think this shows our character as a team,” middle hitter Dominique Olowolafe said.“We had a tough year (last year) but we kept fighting.”
So far in 2010, the Mustangs have notched wins against Arizona, Marshall, BYU and Oregon State among others. The team hopes these wins against well-known schools will propel them into its conference games.
“We got what we needed from (non-confernce) and that was confidence,” Olowolafe said.”Now we’re ready to focus on our rivals in the Big West.”
To pair with the three losses on its record, Cal Poly also lost one senior to a hand injury. On Sept. 3 versus Idaho State, Olowolafe fractured her finger, but it was a clean break and required no surgery. Olowolafe said she hopes to be back on the court in time for matches against Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State this weekend.
“As a senior I definitely want to be out there, but I am also so proud of the team for working so hard,” Olowolafe said.
With the loss of Olowolafe, someone needed to fill in. Outside hitter Kristina Graven rose to the challenge, receiving recognition from the conference when she was named the Big West Player of the Week during the second week of September.
“I was shocked, but it was definitely exciting (to get the award),” Graven said.
However, Graven is not the only outside hitter pulling her weight. Outside hitter Catie Smith was named Coca-Cola Cal Poly Athlete of the Week after recording five aces with double figure kills versus Cal State Bakersfield on Sept. 19.
The outside hitters are not the only ones leading the team to victory. In the Mustangs’ win against UC Irvine on Sept. 24, sophomore middle blocker Jennifer Keddy pitched in 15 kills while sophomore opposite hitter Holly Franks added nine kills, along with freshman middle blocker Marianne Gera with six.
In addition, libero Alison Mort led the team with 27 digs while libero Lauren Law added 22 in the match against the Anteaters.
With almost every player in the starting lineup showing some form of success on the court, the Mustangs are expecting even more for their squad this year.
“Our goals are apparent … we want to win the Big West Championship and go to the (NCAA) tournament,” Graven said.
The only thing the players want right now is a bit more support, Smith said.
“We had a great crowd at our first home game, but we would love for every (student) to come and help us get more fired up,” Smith said.
Some matches to watch for on the season are a match-up with Big West powerhouse Long Beach State on Oct. 2 and a contest against UCSB on Oct. 9.
“As a senior, I want to finish as I started,” Olowolafe said.
Olowolafe, who was a freshman when the Cal Poly team went to the Regional Semifinals in 2007, wants the incoming class this year to get the same introduction to college volleyball as she did.
“In a way I already feel accomplished,” Smith said. “I’m glad that we pulled off the wins (so far), but we are not satisfied yet.”
Cal Poly will not be satisfied until November, when they can hopefully get its hands on a Big West Championship and a ticket to the NCAAs.