Cal Poly Volleyball Clinches Big West Title

Updated: November 12, 2017

After sweeping the final home weekend of the season, Cal Poly volleyball clinched their first Big West Conference title in ten years Saturday night, sweeping third-place UC Irvine in three sets. 

For Cal Poly head coach Sam Crosson, the title marks the apex of a five year reconstruction of a program that went 4-26 in the year before he arrived. For the three seniors on the roster — Raeann Griesen, Savannah Neiman, and Taylor Nelson, the team’s 19th win in a row came on Senior Day at Mott Athletic Center. 

Mott dominance

Cal Poly finished their home season without losing a match at Mott all season. One thing that’s helpful is that they don’t play any non-conference games at home. But the Mustangs weren’t just good at home. They were dominant. In TOTAL, Cal Poly dropped just three sets at home in eight matches — two of those sets were against Hawai’i in their five-set victory. Cal Poly isn’t likely to host any NCAA Tournament games, but crowds definitely grew over the course of the season and you can bet that the Mustangs will start next season with about as big a home-court advantage as you can have in the Big West, aside from Hawai’i.

The right mix

Cal Poly used a familiar formula on the attack on Saturday night. Names like Van Winden, Nelson, Greisen, and Neiman led the way. Even in a three-set match in past years, Greisen or Adlee Van Winden would have a hugely disproportionate number of attacks and kills. Because they have such a depth of talent this season, Cal Poly has been able to limit each player’s number of swings. 

Volleyball health can be a cumulative thing. With the conference wrapped-up, it will be interesting to see if any players get days off or far less game usage on the road this week in preparation for the NCAA Tournament at the end of the month.

Mott Madness

Mott Athletic Center has been rocking the past few weeks. Starting with the Hawai’i game, Cal Poly drew 3,032, 2,781, 2,234, and 1,624 fans. Drawing almost 2,500 fans per game down the stretch is a pretty great number at Cal Poly. Being a top-25 team, this group certainly deserves all the attention they’re getting.

Alumnae on-hand

The conference-clinching match came in front of many of Crosson’s first freshman class that included Taylor Gruenewald and Shannon Fouts, among others. Those players endured 12-17 and 9-17 records in their first two seasons with the program, attended Cal Poly before there even was a beach program, and helped groom many of the younger players who are undefeated in conference play with just two matches left.

I didn’t pay a lot of attention to volleyball prior to Crosson’s arrival, but I know the culture wasn’t what he wanted it to be early-on. Changing culture isn’t always easy. This group has done it, and come out on the other side with all the success they could have hoped for. 

Congratulations are, certainly, in order. 

Photos from Friday night below by Owen Main. 

For more photos, or to purchase photos, click here.  If you just want to contribute to the cause, Venmo @Owen-Main or paypal