Clarke Up to 3rd, 'Dogs Fall at NMSU
Nov. 3, 2011
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - On its last Western Athletic Conference road trip, Fresno State's Brianna Clarke continued her climb up the Bulldogs' records books even in a 3-0 loss (23-25, 17-25 and 15-25) at New Mexico State on Thursday night.
Clarke, a middle blocker from Fresno, Calif., moved into sole possession of third place all-time on the Bulldogs' career block list with an early block assist against Aggie kill leader Meredith Hays and a third set block solo. Clarke now has 417 career blocks, which is seven away from second and 20 shy of the career record (437) held by Suzie Regal (1989-92).
"I feel very humbled that Fresno State has given me the opportunity to get to this point," Clarke said. "The only reason I've been able to do the things I've done is because of my teammates, coaching staff, family support and the fans."
Acting head coach Ed Jackson, who is filling in this week for Lauren Netherby-Sewell, credits Clarke's net presence as key to accomplishing all that she has in her transformation from an All-WAC freshman outsider hitter to one of the program's top blockers in school history.
"Bri has great net presence," Jackson said of the four-year contributor out of Buchanan High School. "She takes a lot of pride in her blocking, which is one of her strengths along with attacking. I am really proud that she has been able to accomplish that feat during her time here."
In the Thursday night WAC tilt, Fresno State (11-13, 5-6 WAC) played well for most of the opening set until three unforced Bulldog errors evened the score at 21-21. NMSU used that late momentum to steal the first set despite seven attack errors off Hays' arm in the initial frame.
"She (Meredith Hays) was our top priority and we forced her to attack to an area she is uncomfortable with," Jackson said. "We had a great first set and were right with them. We put ourselves in a position to take control of the match, but made a few too many costly errors."
The Aggies used the late first set surge to set the stage for a resurgent offensive attack that delivered 17 kills with only six errors and a 70 percent sideout percentage for a 2-0 advantage at the break.
NMSU then cruised to the sweep by taking the third set in quick form behind the power of Kelsey Buchanan's match-best 12 kills.
New Mexico State, who snapped a two-match losing streak with the straight-set victory, improved to 19-7 overall and 8-3 against conference opponents this year. The Aggies sit in second place in the WAC standings behind 14-time defending champion Hawai'i.
Sophomore outside hitter Korrin Wild led the 'Dogs with 11 kills.
On the attack, the Aggies outhit the Bulldogs .240 to .048 and landed a 42-29 kill edge.
"We stuck to the gameplan early on, but towards the end we had some unanswered points and struggled with basic fundamentals," Clarke said. "It's a tough loss, but we need to stick to our game and execute."
Fresno State is assured of a spot in the 2011 WAC Tournament and will being play on Nov. 21 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
"I was proud of the team and they fought through playing in a tough environment," Jackson said. "We are a very good team when we stay together. Everybody needs to stay involved and continue working as a group. We look forward to getting back on the court Saturday night."
The Bulldogs will play its final road regular season match as a WAC member at Louisiana Tech on Saturday at 5 p.m. PT. Live statistics will be available through Gametracker at www.gobulldogs.com.
Jackson Serving as Acting Head Coach for the Week
"We Are Your Team!" --- Don't miss the biggest volleyball match of the year when the Bulldogs host Idaho on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. It's Greek Night and the most attended greek house will win dinner with the team. All Fresno State students are free to all home volleyball matches.