By Geoff Thurner
LEXINGTON, Ky. - After another impressive season in the classroom, the Fresno State volleyball team was honored with its fifth straight American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic award.
The only one of the Mountain West's 11 teams spotted in Tuesday's annual announcement by the AVCA, the Bulldogs were again selected after they maintained a 3.30 minimum cumulative team grade point average combined for the fall and spring academic terms.
"We are blessed to have some really strong students in our program," said seventh-year head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell. "They're hard workers who apply themselves and take care of business in the classroom. But what I'm most proud of are the student-athletes who have struggled academically and really picked up their effort this year to improve their quality of learning and our hard-working, winning culture. This was a great team effort as usual from a committed staff in our student-services department and a caring, smart coaching staff who takes pride in their jobs as mentors. Well done, Fresno State and well done Bulldogs!"
The Bulldogs were one of five Division I programs honored from the state of California - joining Pacific, St. Mary's, San Francisco and UC Irvine - and one of 109 NCAA Division I programs honored nationally.
"Too often athletic participation is associated with academic underachievement and this stereotype is simply false when it comes to volleyball," said AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. "Couple the smarts represented by these teams with the competitive experience and team-focused training gained on the court and we have a potent formula for future leadership! What a significant contribution that is by their coaches and schools."
Tuesday's honor added to an already impressive list of Bulldog volleyball academic accolades from the 2013-14 campaign.
Individually, then-senior outside hitter Marissa Brand picked up her third straight Capital One Academic All-District 8 honor after similar honors in 2011 and '12.
The 'Dogs led the league in individual Academic All-MW accolades (12), and eligible student-athletes must have maintained a 3.0 minimum GPA in the fall, and have competed in 50 percent of the team's varsity contests.
Bulldogs that received Academic All-MW acclaim last fall included Brand and fellow seniors Lauren Albertson, Korrin Wild and Holly Franks, juniors Christina Lee, Jaimee-Lee Morrow, Maci Murdock and Katie Pearson, sophomores Zana Bowens and Molly Pearson, and freshmen Maggie Eppright and Brooke Legaux.
Five of those Bulldogs also received MW Scholar-Athlete acclaim after sporting +3.50 GPA's for the academic year - Albertson, Brand, Lee, and both Pearsons.
Team-wise on the court, the 'Dogs combined on a 17-15 mark in 2013, and their fourth-place MW finish was three spots better than their preseason coaches poll pick. Factoring in their 18-13 mark in 2012, the `Dogs enjoyed their first back to back winning seasons since 2003 and `04 (21-7, 15-13) and a hat trick of top-four league finishes for the first time since 2001-04.
Looking ahead to this week, the Bulldogs look ahead to their first practice of the fall campaign this Saturday, August 9.
The Bulldogs then point towards a 34-match slate with 11 home dates in the Save Mart Center, including early season exhibitions against an Alumni Squad on Saturday, August 23, and Fresno Pacific on Tuesday, September 23.
The season officially starts with the Rice Invitational (August 29-30) in Houston, Texas. The `Dogs then have three more away early-season tournaments - the Sacramento State Invitational (September 5-6), St. John's Kissler Classic (Sept. 12-13) and CSU Bakersfield Tournament (Sept. 19-20).
"Be Bold!" - Fresno State volleyball and football season tickets are on sale at the www.GoBulldogs.com website and at the Bulldog Ticket Office.
2013-2014 AVCA Team Academic Award Recipients
Austin Peay State
Bowling Green State
Central Conn. State
College of Charleston
College of the Holy Cross
East Tennessee State
North Dakota State
Saint Mary's (CA)
Sam Houston State
South Carolina Upstate
Southeast Missouri State
College Sand Teams
Central Community College
*Complete list at http://www.avca.org/awards/team-academic-award/13-14-recipients/
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