This year’s squad includes 12 returning players and seven newcomers. Five returning players who went at least 80 sets last season. The seven newcomers consist of six freshmen and one transfer.
The most anticipated return for Cal Poly fans will be the senior redshirted opposite hitter Maia Dvoracek, who was forced to miss all of last season as she recovered from a serious knee injury she suffered in the spring of 2021. She last played in 2019 where she burst onto the scene during his first year as an incumbent. That year, she led the team and was second in the Big West in kills at 4.25 per set in addition to ranking in the top five in the nation in service aces. She was named first-team All-Big West and third-team All-American AVCA, becoming the seventh Mustang in program history to be named to one of three team All-Americans.
Many talents return to Dvoracek’s side, including two players who were All-Big West last season. outside hitter Tommi Stockham is back for his second season with the Mustangs after earning first-team All-Big West honors last season after leading the team and finishing fourth in the Big West in kills at 3.54 per set. That included posting at least 20 wins five times and double-digit kills in 16 of 20 conference games.
Back for his last season as a middle blocker is senior Meredith Phillips, an entry since its freshman year. Phillips, a three-time All-Big West winner, earned All-Big West honorable mention last year after leading the Mustangs in blocks with 118, ranking fifth in the conference and second on the team in kills .
The senior setter is also back for her final season Avalon DeNecochea, who enters this year sixth in program history for career assists with 3,187. DeNecochea has started every game as a passer for the Mustangs each of the last three seasons. Last year, she was second in the Big West in assists per set with an average of 10.31 and was third on the team in blocks, digs and service aces.
Other returns for the Mustangs include the redshirted second-year outside hitter Amy Hiatt who was third on the team in kills and fourth in blocks last year, sophomore middle tackle Kate Slack who was second on the team in blocks last season, and second outside hitter Annabelle Thalken who had seven kills in three games last year.
They will be joined by seven newcomers looking to make an impact. One of the most notable additions is that of junior libero Jolei Akima who decided to transfer to Cal Poly after two years at Boise State. While with the Broncos, the Hawaii native played in all 50 games for Boise State in her two years, starting 20 of those at the Libero. Last season, she led the Broncos in digs and was tied for second in service aces while helping them win a Mountain West championship. During her two years there, she recorded double-digit searches on 21 occasions.
Another notable addition is the San Luis Obispo native Marine Warren. Warren, who also plans to play beach volleyball for the Mustangs, can play multiple places in the lineup, from opposite hitter to outside hitter to middle tackle. While at San Luis Obispo High School, she was named an All-Mountain League three years in a row. She is the first Central Coast local to play for the program since 2016.
The Mustangs just finished third in the Big West in 2021. Cal Poly has finished in the top three in the Big West standings each of the past six seasons.
They will begin their 2022 season on August 26 on the road from Logan, Utah to Utah State. They will have 10 non-conference games all away from the Mott Athletics Center. During that span, they will face teams such as UCLA, Pepperdine, Washington and Northern Colorado, all of which competed in the NCAA Tournament last year.
The Mustangs’ first home game will be the Big West Conference opener on Sept. 23 against Long Beach State at 7 p.m.