Nov. 23, 2013
By Geoff Thurner
FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State volleyball team (17-13, 11-7) capped their home slate by facing its third ranked opponent of the season and eighth match vs. an NCAA tourney returnee in No. 10 Colorado State (27-0, 18-0) Saturday at the Save Mart Center.
One of only two unbeaten teams left in the nation, the Mountain West champion Rams won 25-13, 25-16, 25-21, and became only the third team this season to top .300 vs. the `Dogs with their .384 hitting total.
Team-wise, the Rams also ended with advantages in kills (45-38), aces (3-2), fewest service errors (2-7), digs (50-41) and blocks (9-6).
"Colorado State is a talented team," Fresno State head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. "We had a lot of great rallies, but unfortunately we started sluggish and didn't play like we finished. We prepared well this week, but they're ranked 10th nationally for a reason."
Individually for the `Dogs, senior outside hitter Marissa Brand logged 13 kills and 15 points to pace the team for the ninth and seventh times this season, respectively. The former all-conference honoree also only made one hitting error en route to a .400 hitting mark - her fourth +.400 total of the season and fifth team high of the year in the category.
Also on offense, senior middle blocker Lauren Albertson landed four five kills and hit .375.
In her 15th appearance of the season, freshman setter Brooke Legaux topped the team in assists (21) for the first time this year and posted a new season best by three over her previous total that came in five sets at SJSU (18).
"We're always talking about having that Bulldog Spirit," Brand said. "Even though we didn't come out on top, we fought the whole way today. I was happy to see Brooke play so well. Her confidence has grown so much the last two months. Being a leader in that position is not easy for a freshman, and she has three great years ahead of her."
On defense, junior middle blocker Maci Murdock logged five blocks - her 11th total of five or more blocks this season - and 16th team leader in 2013.
Freshman libero Maggie Eppright added 13 digs for her 19th double-digit effort of the season and 14th team high.
The Rams had a pair of players with +10 kills - Marlee Reynolds (13 kills, .344) and Kesley Snider (12 kills, .611).
Other CSU category leaders included Deedra Foss (34 assists), Cassidy Denny (3 aces), Jamie Colaizzi (17 digs), Samantha Peters (4 blocks) and Snider (4 blocks).
Saturday also marked the final home appearance for one of the Bulldogs' greatest senior classes - a five-member group that included right side hitter Megan Callahan, Albertson, Brand, Franks and Wild.
On Saturday, Brand climbed Bulldog career top-10 lists for attempts (third, 3,804), kills (fourth, 1,282), sets played (fifth, 433), matches played (ninth, 121) and digs (10th, 955) as did Wild on the school charts for aces (third, 133), digs (fifth, 1,187) and kills (seventh, 1,224).
Earlier this week, Wild ranked second in the MW in both kills and points in the MW, while Brand stood eighth and ninth in the categories (and second in each in MW-only play). Brand is also a three-time Academic All-District selection and a six-time Dean's List honoree.
Callahan had a break-out season last year, and ranked second on the squad in hitting percentage, and third in kills and blocks. Career-wise, she has posted 15 matches with 10 or more kills, including a career high 17 vs. New Mexico.
Albertson, a team co-captain in 2013 with Wild, started her 54th career match on Saturday. Defensively, she has racked up 5 blocks or more in 15 matches, including a career-high 8 vs. Nevada. Offensively, she has 20 +.300 hitting totals, including a career-high .684 mark vs. San Jose State. In the classroom, the communications and journalism graduate student is equally accomplished as a four-time Dean's List selection and Academic All-MW pick.
Franks has led the team in aces this year (0.32 p/s) and ranked second in the Mountain West and 103rd nationally this week. The Tollhouse, Calif., native landed a school record seven aces vs. Wichita State in September and led the team in aces nine times this fall, and likewise in points in seven matches and kills six times. A three-time all-tourney selection this fall, she has claimed seven double-doubles and sports season highs of 20 kills and 20 digs.
"I'm really going to miss this class," Netherby-Sewell said, "and it was especially great to see Marissa play well on such a special day. All these players have really changed the culture and attitude of this team and taught the younger players how to be winners. They've done such a great job, and I'm really proud of them."
Before their arrival of sixth-year head coach, the team had weathered three straight losing seasons (and 18 combined wins in that span). For comparison's sake, the `Dogs have staked 62 wins the past four years and entered the week in a tie for second place in the MW.
Looking ahead, the `Dogs wrap up the regular season next week with matches at New Mexico and Air Force on Tuesday-Wednesday, November 26-27 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time each day.
CATCH THE WAVE - Follow the 'Dogs on Twitter at @FresnoStateVB.
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