April 1, 2014
By Geoff Thurner
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State volleyball fans can watch the Bulldogs continue their preparation for the upcoming fall slate with four upcoming events the next five weeks.
The `Dogs open their spring schedule by hosting the Fresno State Spring Tournament this Saturday, April 5 at North Gym.
Fresno Pacific, Nevada and the `NCVA Dream Team' will also play in the intersquad scrimmages that run from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., and admission is free to the public. The latter squad composed of post-collegians includes two recent Bulldog starters - All-WAC middle blocker Brianna Clarke and outside hitter/defensive specialist Cecilia Agraz.
Later in the spring, the `Dogs play in tournaments at USC on Saturday, April 12 and at San Jose State on Saturday, April 26, while a fourth home event is set for Saturday, May 3 at North Gym.
"The spring season is a great time to teach and learn," Fresno State head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said, "and our fans will enjoy the casual, free environment to cheer on their 'Dogs."
Last fall, the team capped its sixth season under Netherby-Sewell with a 17-15 overall mark for its second straight winning season (and first since 2003-04). The squad also tied for fourth place in the MW with an 11-9 record - two places better than its preseason coaches poll selection.
"We had a strong offense last year," Netherby-Sewell said, "but our struggles on defense and in transition hurt us in close matches. This spring we've been striving to improve that side of our game. Now that many of our starters from last fall will graduate, we'll get to try out players who haven't had a lot of match experience and work with our freshman setter in a 5-1 offense. We're small in numbers and size this spring, but with the work we've done so far this spring, we think we'll put together some nice matches."
The `Dogs list of returnees from 2013 include libero Maggie Eppright, setters Christina Lee and Brooke Legaux, outside hitters Zana Bowens and Jaimee-Lee Morrow, right side hitter Katie Pearson, and middle blockers Maci Murdock and Molly Pearson.
Murdock ranked eighth in the MW and 70th nationally last year in hitting (.350) and also led the team in blocks in 17 matches and season-wise among per-set average (0.90 p/s).
Lee and Legaux shared setting duties in the 6-2 offense the second half of last year, and helped the squad rank top three in MW play in hitting (second, .245), assists (third, 13.11 p/s) and kills (14.03 p/s).
Bowens posted the first 20-kill totals of her career vs. Rice (21, .280) and Santa Clara (20, .341), and Morrow saw action in 51 sets and 20 matches, and stood fourth on the team in service aces (0.20 p/s).
Katie Pearson started 12 of the last 17 matches and led the team in aces four times and stood 12th in the conference season-wise (0.23 p/s). Molly Pearson added six starts, and her career-high nine blocks was one of four match leaders for the `Dogs in 2013.
Eppright started 26 of the last 27 matches last year and stood sixth in MW in digs in conference play (4.00 p/s) and tops among freshmen.
Netherby-Sewell welcomes back last year's staff - Mallori Gibson and Corina Beyer - and new assistant coach Joe Skinner who worked the past seven seasons with the Oregon program. In that stretch, the Ducks scored an NCAA runner-up finish and three NCAA regional trips among their six post season trips, along with five Pac-12 upper-division finishes.
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