By Nate Macay, Dec. 13, 2022
In her first season at Cal Poly Pomona, volleyball player Caitie Mueller earned an honorable mention to in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division II All-American team.
Mueller earned the AVCA Division II All-West Region Team award to go along with being named the California Collegiate Association Newcomer of the Year, All-CCAA First Team and four-time CCAA Volleyball setter of the week.
Mueller said being named as an honorable mention was a major accomplishment.
“It’s really cool to have something to show for with all the work I have been putting in the past six months or so.”
Growing up in San Clemente, California, Mueller played volleyball at Junipero Serra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, CA. Mueller recalled her senior night being her favorite memory from high school against their rival Orange Lutheran High School.
“It was a reminder of why I really loved volleyball,” said Mueller. “I just remembered us having fun and playing really well, and we ended up sweeping them at home.”
Mueller’s journey to Cal Poly Pomona was unique. She started off her collegiate career at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. After a redshirt freshman season solely as a practice player, Mueller knew the lack of play time was an opportunity to help her team in other facets.
“It was a defining season for me,” said Mueller. “My whole mindset about volleyball, and practices, kind of flipped and I kind of had the perception of, ‘How I can help to better help my teammates?’ So, I really think that helped impact my game and gain some volleyball IQ and understand the different aspects of the game that aren’t always seen and known.”
Mueller mentioned that her time at Liberty helped her grow, but disputes with coaches led to her entrance into the transfer portal. Many factors impacted Mueller’s decision, but the biggest one was the chance to come back home.
“It was time to move on,” said Mueller. “I’m from California, and I was really thinking about how close I was with my family. There was a lot that went into it, but I wanted to go to a place where I can have more of an impact in terms of volleyball.”
The transfer portal process went fast for Mueller. She talked to a few schools that included Division I and Division II, but when she toured CPP, she knew that this was the best school to transfer to.
“Nothing had really been as obvious of a choice as Cal Poly Pomona,” said Mueller. “When I toured and when I was talking with coach Dahl, she just encouraged me so much. She really wanted me and saw me and saw what kind of player I was, and it felt right. I knew that this was the place.”
Mueller’s first season with the Broncos was impressive; as she led the CCAA with 1,036 assists, averaging 10.16 a game.
Before the year started, Mueller mentioned that the team set goals by wanting to win the conference title, and make it to the National Collegiate Athletes Association tournament.
The Broncos won the CCAA volleyball title for the first time in the program’s history. By winning the title, they secured their spot in the NCAA Division II tournament.
According to Mueller, the team flew up to Seattle, Washington and took a long drive to Bellingham, Washington. She described the travel experience with her teammates as great.
The Broncos managed to defeat a fellow CCAA rival in the west region quarterfinal, the San Bernardino Cougars. In their fourth matchup against the Cougars this season, Mueller said the Broncos knew what to expect compared to facing an unfamiliar team
“We went in with an aura of confidence,” said Mueller. “We knew we had the right tools to beat them.”
After defeating the Cougars, the Broncos went up against the Chaminade Silverswords. CPP had not faced the Silverswords since 2019, where they lost 3-0 on Sep. 13th, 2019. The Broncos would get swept again in the regional semifinal, and Mueller gave credit to Chaminade.
“They were a great competitive team,” said Mueller. “It wasn’t our best game, and we didn’t perform to the best of our abilities. … It was hard to lose that game. They deserved to move on. It was bittersweet to make it that far. Obviously we wanted to go further, and now it’s in our sights to go further next year.”
Mueller is already looking forward to her second season alongside the other young Broncos. With a competitive fire to fuel them, Mueller has much to be excited about in her junior season.
“Next fall is going to be a great year,” said Mueller. “We want to win another banner, do more and do better, and I think we’re all grateful for the year it has been. We’re all now even more motivated to go out and repeat and have our names put down in history.”
Feature image by Carlos Leano
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