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Cal Poly makes history

Cal Poly Making History Despite One Setback After the Next

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Todd Rogers knew that history had been made before it had actually been made. He had been on the call with the rest of the NCAA selection committee, and then, for an hour, he had been off of it, as coaches with any affiliation to a team being discussed cannot be on the call when their team is the subject.

So for an hour, Rogers waited. Found stuff to do in the office. It might have been the first time in history a college coach has been overjoyed at the immense amount of work required of college coaches.

“Sitting there and twiddling your thumbs, doing nothing, would have been the worst thig I could have done,” Rogers said.

When the hour was up, Rogers jumped back on the call. Cal Poly, he was told, was in. The six seed. Its first appearance at the NCAA Tournament, to be made public less than 24 hours after winning its first Big West title.

He was, predictably, ecstatic. Even with the Big West title, Cal Poly was no sure thing to make the NCAA Tournament.

“I told the girls if we win, it’s maybe an 80 percent chance,” he said.

Ah, the girls. They still didn’t know. Rogers couldn’t tell them they were win. When the NCAA’s selection show went live, they were all nerves and freneticism.

Who was going to make it? Who was going to make it?

Stetson was named second, after USC. The eight seed. One could safely assume that the Hatters, being the eight, would be the last East Coast team to make it, making room for five in the West – three automatic bids, two at-large.

Would it be Poly or LMU? Could Cal Berkeley have snuck in? Maybe a Long Beach?

“It was pretty funny, because the team was looking at me, and they were like ‘Well he looks happy!’” Rogers said. “I just kinda shook my head and said ‘Watch the show, enjoy the show.’”

They did. How could they not?

This had been a season with such promise, such hope, only to be derailed, again and again and again. Torrey Van Winden, an excellent transfer from UCLA, missed the season with a concussion. Another missed matches due to food poisoning. Emily Sonny, who played much of the season blocking on court two, competed left-handed.

Not might be the time to mention she is not left-handed.

“That,” Brooke Niles, head coach of Florida State, said, “is really, really impressive.”

Pick any element of Poly’s season and impressive is a fairly accurate word to describe it.

Recovering from a 3-5 start, to finish 25-10? Impressive. Losing its top player only to have Crissy Jones and Tia Miric win the AVCA Pair of the Week on court one in the final week of the season? Impressive. Having a blocker play opposite-handed on court two and go 16-3 on that court? Impressive.

Rotate Vanessa Roscoe and Brayden Gruenwald through all five courts – all five! – because of injuries and sickness and what have you, and still perform well enough to finish the season with a 19-15 record? Impressive.

Going undefeated against Hawai’i, winning back-to-back matches over the Bows with the potential bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line?

Yes, impressive.

“Battling a lot of adversity,” Rogers said. “It’s been a fun long-term and even a fun short-term over these past two months.”

It’s been fun. It’s been impressive. It’s been history in the making.

So for an hour, Rogers waited. Found stuff to do in the office. It might be the first time in history a college coach has been overjoyed at the immense amount of work required of college coaches.

“Sitting there and twiddling your thumbs, doing nothing, would have been the worst thig I could have done,” Rogers said.

When the hour was up, Rogers jumped back on the call. Cal Poly, he was told, was in. The six seed. Its first appearance at the NCAA Tournament, to be made public less than 24 hours after winning its first Big West title.

He was, predictably, ecstatic. Even with the Big West title, Cal Poly was no sure thing to make the NCAA Tournament.

“I told the girls if we win, it’s maybe an 80 percent chance,” he said.

Ah, the girls. They still didn’t know. When the NCAA’s selection show went live, they were all nerves and freneticism.

Who was going to make it? Who was going to make it?

Stetson was named first. The eight seed. One could safely assume that the Hatters, being the eight, would be the last East Coast team to make it, making room for five in the West – three automatic bids, two at-large.

Would it be Poly or LMU? Could Cal Berkeley have snuck in?

“It was pretty funny, because the team was looking at me, and they were like ‘Well he looks happy!’” Rogers said. “I just kinda shook my head and said ‘Watch the show, enjoy the show.’”

They did. How could they not?

This had been a season with such promise, such hope, only to be derailed, again and again. Torrey Van Winden, an excellent transfer from UCLA, missed the season with a concussion. Another missed matches due to food poisoning. Emily Sonny, who played much of the season blocking on court two, competed left-handed.

She’s not a lefty.

“That,” Brooke Niles, head coach of Florida State, said, “is really, really impressive.”

Pick any element of Poly’s season and impressive is a fairly accurate word to describe it.

Recovering from a 3-5 start, to finish 25-10? Impressive. Losing its top player only to have Crissy Jones and Tia Miric win the AVCA Pair of the Week in the final week of the season? Impressive. Having a blocker play opposite-handed on court two and go 16-3 on that court? Impressive.  

Rotate Vanessa Roscoe and Brayden Gruenwald through all five courts – all five! – because of injuries and sickness and what have you, and still perform well enough to finish the season with a 19-15 record? Impressive.

Going undefeated against Hawai’i, winning back-to-back matches over the Bows with the potential bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line?

Yes, impressive.

“Battling a lot of adversity,” Rogers said. “It’s been a fun long-term and even a fun short-term over these past two months.”

It’s been fun. It’s been impressive. It’s been history in the making.

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