Bulldogs begin two-a-days in the North Gym on Wed., Aug. 10.
Aug. 8, 2005
FRESNO, Calif. -
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Fresno State Volleyball Opens Preseason Practice
The 2005 Fresno State volleyball team opens its preseason practice this week when the Bulldogs hit the court on Wed., Aug. 10, for two-a-days under first-year head coach Ruben Nieves. With nine returnees back, the 'Dogs have two veteran starters in senior setter Robyn Keune (Ventura, Calif.) and sophomore libero Yuko Mori (Anan, Tokushima, Japan). Also returning is sophomore outside hitter Mounia Nihipali (Honolulu, Hawaii) and sophomore setter Ilima Sam Fong (Hurricane, Utah), who both saw significant playing time as rookies, as well as senior outside hitter La'akea Campbell (Kaneohe, Hawaii). Nieves, along with first-year assistants Matt Terra and Fernanda Habiger, welcomes the largest incoming group with 12 newcomers.
Fresno State vs. Fresno Pacific Exhibition Match
Fresno State will play an exhibition match against Fresno Pacific for the first time in school history when the Bulldogs meet the Sunbirds on Tue., Aug. 30, at Fresno Pacific. Not since 1983 have the 'Dogs played an exhibition match. Overall, the Bulldog volleyball program has played three exhibition matches (1980 vs. Japanese All-Stars, 1982 vs. People's Republic of China and 1983 vs. Ito-Yokado Japan). Outside of Division I play, the 'Dogs have played six matches against junior college programs (Merced City College, 1973 and '74; Reedley Junior College, 1974, '75 and '76; and Fresno City College, 1975).
Watch Fresno State Football from the Save Mart Center
When Fresno State hosts Oregon on Sat., Sept. 17, at the Save Mart Center, the Bulldog football team will be playing the Ducks in Eugene, Ore. The Fresno State Athletics Department will open the doors early that day at the Save Mart Center so that fans will not miss a single action from either team. With a paid admission to the Fresno State-Oregon volleyball match that night, fans will have the opportunity to watch the 4:00 p.m. football game on the jumbotron in the Save Mart Center before the Bulldogs' 8:00 p.m. match against the Ducks.
First 100 Program
All year fans will have the opportunity to be one of the first 100 people in line to receive a free general admission ticket to a volleyball home match. Launching this program for the first time, the first 100 individuals who arrive one hour early to match time will be eligible to receive a free admission pass based on the generosity of individuals or businesses that had pre-purchased the tickets. For more information, contact the Bulldog Ticket Office at (559) 278-DOGS.
Bulldogs Out and About
The 2005 Fresno State volleyball team will be out and about before officially beginning its season the first weekend of September. Fresno State will participate in Bulldog Night at Farmer's Market at Riverpark on Tue., Aug. 23. The next day, the 'Dogs will participate in the Student Services Expo as they'll have a on-campus booth in the quad area from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Also in conjunction with Fresno State's welcome week, the Bulldogs will conduct a free clinic for all students in the North Gym on Fri., Aug. 26, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Head Coach Ruben Nieves
In his first season as the head coach of the Fresno State women's volleyball program, Ruben Nieves returned to coaching after a three-year absence as he was named the Bulldogs' head coach on Jan. 28, 2005. With success on the NCAA Division I level, Nieves spent 11 years (1991-2001) as the men's head coach at Stanford and compiled a school- and career-mark of 179-92 (.661. He led the Cardinal to the school's only men's national title (1997). Directing Stanford to eight Top 10 national rankings and two championship game appearances, he has been honored twice as the AVCA National Coach of the Year (1992 and 1997). In addition, Nieves coached 19 All-Americans and one AVCA National Player of the Year. On the women's level, Nieves served as an assistant coach for the Stanford women's team from 1986-88 and helped the Cardinal reach the Final Four twice, including the 1987 NCAA championship match. Becoming the sixth head coach overall and the first male to coach the Fresno State women's volleyball program, Nieves has had 15 years of intercollegiate coaching experience to go along with five years on the high school level. As a volleyball setter, Nieves won the Block "S" award at Stanford, playing from 1980-81. He graduated from Stanford in 1981 with a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish (1981) and earned his master's degree from Stanford in Education in 1982.
Rings of Success
When the Fresno State volleyball team began a new era under first-year head coach Ruben Nieves, he assembled a unique combination with the new Bulldog coaching staff. Nieves, along with his two assistants Matt Terra and Fernanda Habiger, have all been part of national championship teams as coaches. Habiger comes to Fresno State after spending last fall in Miami Shores, Fla., where she helped Barry University capture the 2004 NCAA Division II Women's Volleyball Championship title. Terra, a 2003 graduate of Fresno State, served as an assistant coach at Fresno Pacific University the last five years. In 2003, the Sunbirds won their second NAIA championship. Nieves, who is making his debut with the Bulldogs this fall, guided the Stanford's men's team to a national title as head coach in 1997.
'Dogs Eighth in WAC Preseason VB Poll
Not sure what to expect from the 2005 Fresno State volleyball team, the Western Athletic Conference released its preseason volleyball coaches' poll on July 12 and the Bulldogs were picked eighth out of nine teams. Tabbed to take home its 10th straight WAC title, Hawai'i was selected as the preseason favorite after garnering eight first place votes for 64 points. UH is coming off a 30-3 season and a No. 8 final national ranking as the Rainbow Wahine advanced to the 2004 NCAA Regional Semifinals. Hawai'i, which returns all its starters, went 13-0 in the Western Division and captured its fifth WAC Volleyball Championship Tournament title last fall. Nevada, which received the final first place vote, collected 57 points and placed second. The Wolf Pack finished second to Hawai'i in the Western Division in 2004 and also bring back all their starters from a 21-10 squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament First Round. The three new league schools came in at Nos. 3-5, respectively, as Idaho (45 points), New Mexico State (39 points) and Utah State (33 points) round out the top five. Both Idaho (17-13, 9-9 Big West) and New Mexico State (30-3, 15-0 Sun Belt) earned bids to the NCAA Tournament last year. Boise State finished sixth with 31 votes while San Jose State was seventh with 28 votes. Fresno State received 18 points while Louisiana Tech rounded out the poll with nine points.
The New WAC Volleyball Look
This season Idaho, New Mexico State and Utah State will join the WAC in volleyball action. Winning the Sun Belt Conference title for the second consecutive year, New Mexico State went 30-3 overall after losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to San Diego last season. Idaho posted a final record of 17-13 and placed sixth in the Big West with a 9-9 league mark. Utah State, also a former member of the Big West, went 9-18 overall and went 5-13 in league play for an eighth place finish. In addition, for the first time in four years, the conference will be playing volleyball under one umbrella instead of divisions. The WAC had showcased volleyball divisions (Eastern/Western and Mountain/Pacific) in seven of the last nine years. The 1999 and 2000 seasons are the two most recent years in which all teams competed collectively with no division champions.
Keune Making Mark
Keune, who walked on as a freshman, has made her mark on the Bulldogs' record book. In her final season, she will look to become just the fourth Bulldog to eclipse the 3,000 assist plateau as she comes into the year ranked No. 5 all-time with 2,304 career assists. Sitting six assists shy of moving into the No. 4 spot all-time for career assists, Keune also ranks No. 4 all-time in school history for assists per game (11.59). As a sophomore, she set Fresno State's second-best single-season mark for assists per game (12.65) and the third-best single-season school mark for total assists (1,379).
Rookie Powers Return
As the only Bulldog to play in every game of every match last fall, Mori returns as the team's top digger as she finished with a team-high 365 digs for a 3.61 dig per game average. Recording 22 double-figure dig matches out of 24 matches played, she became the fifth freshman to post a 300-dig season. While her 3.61 dig per game average ranks ninth-best all-time for a single-season mark at Fresno State, Mori set the second-highest mark for digs by a true Bulldog rookie. Sam Fong etched her name in the Bulldogs' rookie records book, too, by posting the fourth-best mark for assists with 545. Nihipali, who closed out her freshman season by posting 10 double-figure dig matches in her last 14 outings, averaged 17 digs per match (4.86 dpg) in her final six WAC contests. This includes a 37-dig match performance against San Jose State, a mark that ranked second-highest among all WAC players last fall. In addition, the 37-dig mark in a four-game match versus the Spartans became a new rally scoring school record as well as ranking 47th nationally for most digs collected in a match. In the WAC's final statistics for league games only, Nihipali finished among the top five in digs per game (4th, 4.62 dpg) while Mori was ninth (3.76 dpg).
This and That
The 2005 schedule has the Bulldogs playing nine schools that qualified for the NCAA Tournament a year ago ... Of these nine, five were either ranked or received votes in the final national poll ... Fresno State is playing two first-time opponents this fall in North Carolina and Long Island ... Since 2000, the Bulldogs has played 78 road matches to just 62 home dates ...The 'Dogs have fared well the last three years on the road with a 31-20 record ... Overall, the Bulldogs own a 59-27 record the last three years ... At home, they averaged 756 fans in 2004 and were the second-highest draw to Hawai'i once again ... In WAC contests, the 'Dogs averaged nearly 1,000 fans (944) last season ... The Bulldogs have enjoyed success in the North and South Gyms over the years and own an all-time home record of 187-122 (.605) since 1978 ... Since 1987, the Bulldogs are 143-86 (.624) in the North Gym and 0-2 at the Save Mart Center ... The 'Dogs own a 38-9 worksheet, including an 18-3 mark against non-conference opponents, at home the last four years ... In the 2004 NCAA stats, Fresno State ranked nationally in kills, assists, blocks and digs per game ... Ranked all 15 weeks in digs per game, the Bulldogs ended the year ranked 24th with an 18.61 average ... Last fall, 20 rally scoring school records were set/tied as the Bulldogs established eight team marks and 12 individual marks.
A Quick Look at 2004
With a final 15-13 overall mark, Fresno State wrapped up its 2004 season by advancing to the Western Athletic Conference Semifinals for the third time in four years. Making its seventh straight WAC Volleyball Championship appearance, No. 5 seed Fresno State upset No. 4 seed Boise State (30-27, 30-23, 30-23) before dropping a four-game decision to top seed and second-ranked Hawai'i (24-30, 30-25, 25-30, 21-30). By taking the Rainbow Wahine to four games it marked just the second time in WAC tournament play that UH dropped a game in tournament action. The young Bulldogs went 8-8 in their last 16 matches and won six of their last nine overall as they finished the regular-season with a No. 13 West regional ranking. Of the 13 losses last fall, 10 came from teams that advanced to the 2004 NCAA Tournament.
Key Losses From 2004
Fresno State lost four starters from its 2004 squad, this after two players left the squad in the first half of the season. Senior middle blockers Tiffany Bishop and Amanda Magalei graduated while sophomore outside hitter Tuli Peters and freshman outside hitter Christianna Reneau have transferred. Bishop, Peters and Reneau were Second Team All-WAC performers in 2004. Bishop, who garnered her second straight all-conference honor, led the team in hitting (.281) and blocks (91) as she recorded 13 double-figure kill matches. In the school's career annals, she finished her Bulldog career ranked No. T2 in blocks per game (1.20) and No. 10 in block solos (59). Peters, who picked up her first career all-league honors, was the 'Dogs top all-around player last fall. She led the team in service aces (28) while second in kills (284), digs (359) and blocks (77). Reneau, who also was named to the WAC's All-Freshman Team and the WAC's all-tournament squad, had command of the Bulldogs' offense. Notching 26 consecutive double-figure kill matches, she finished as the 'Dogs top kill leader (435, 4.53 kpg) while second in service aces (24, 0.25 sapg), third in digs (293, 3.05 dpg) and fourth in blocks (47, 0.49 bpg). In the WAC, she was the only freshman listed in kill average and as well as being one of five conference hitters who averaged at least 4.80 kills per game.
The WAC in the NCAA Tournament
During the regular-season, three WAC teams were invited to the 2004 NCAA Tournament and together went a combined 12-9 against the 64-team tournament field. Rice, which made its first trip in 2004, and Nevada each lost in the first round while Hawai'i, which made its 23rd tournament appearance, lost in the regional semifinals to No. 22 Wisconsin. Since 1981, WAC teams are a combined 116-92 (.558). Current WAC members are a combined 64-42 (.604) in tournament play. Four of the current league teams have competed in the tournament: Fresno State, Hawai'i, Nevada and San Jose State. Since 1990, the WAC has had at least two teams compete in the NCAA Tournament every year except 1999 and 2003. In 2001, '02 and '04, three teams advanced to postseason, which has been the most since six teams advanced in 1998. In 2003, Hawai'i was the only WAC school to get a NCAA Tournament bid as the Rainbow Wahine advanced all the way to the NCAA national semifinals.
2005 Bulldog Volleyball Capsules - Returners
Sr., OH, La'akea Campbell
Appeared in 16 matches ... tied career-high three aces versus Western Illinois ... tied career-high four assists vs. UC Davis ... picked up first 10+ dig match on year versus San Jose State (11) ... had season-high three kills vs. Boise State ... totaled two total blocks against a team three times ... in career, has three 10-plus dig matches ...three-time Fresno State Scholar-Athlete ... two-time WAC All-Academic ... 2002 WAC Freshman All-Academic.
Sr., S, Robyn Keune
Fourth Bulldog to dish out 2,300 career assists ... averaged 11.60 assists per game ... had five double-doubles ... had five 10+ digs ... SMS/Dr. Mary Jo Winn Invitational all-tournament team... in career, has 20 10+ dig, one 20+ dig & 17 double-doubles ... at Fresno State, ranks No. T2 in aces per game (0.33), No. 4 in assists per game (11.59) & No. 5 in career assists (2,304) ... 2004 Preseason All-WAC ... 2003 Second Team All-WAC ... three-time Fresno State Scholar-Athlete ... three-time WAC All-Academic ... two-time WAC Scholar-Athlete ... 2002 WAC Freshman All-Academic.
So., MB, Alisha McKee
Appeared in 16 matches ... had season-best five kills, six block assists & total blocks versus Kentucky ... recorded first career block solo versus Tulsa ... had one assist versus three teams ... had season-high four digs versus Nevada ... 2005 Fresno State Scholar-Athlete, WAC Scholar-Athlete & Dean's List.
So., L, Yuko Mori
Played in all 101 games in 28 matches ... had 15 10-plus dig matches in last 18 ... had 22 10+ dig matches, three 20+ dig & one 30+ dig ... had season-best 30 digs vs. Southwest Missouri State ... led team in digs (365) ... ranks No. 2 for digs by a Bulldog freshman ... fifth freshman to record 300 or more digs in a year ...ranks No. 9 in digs/game (3.61) for a season ... 2005 Fresno State Scholar-Athlete and WAC Scholar-Athlete.
So., OH, Mounia Nihipali
Appeared in 24 matches ... posted first career 10+ kill match & double-double vs. UTEP (11 kills, 11 digs) ... had four 10+ kill, 11 10+ dig, two 20+ dig, one 30+ dig & three double-doubles ... collected season-highs of 12 kills & 14.0 points versus Louisiana Tech ... had season-high five assists against CS Northridge ... had season-high 37 digs versus San Jose State (FS four-game rally scoring mark) ... had season-high three blocks against Nevada.
So, MB, Jessica Peterson
Appeared in two matches (vs. Western Illinois and CS Northridge) ... two-time Fresno State Scholar-Athlete ... 2005 WAC Scholar-Athlete ... 2005 WAC All-Academic ... 2003 WAC Freshman All-Academic.
Jr., OH/DS, Alison Pitton
Appeared in 10 matches ... recorded first collegiate kill against UC Davis ... had season-high three digs versus UNLV ... two-time Deans List ... two-time Fresno State & WAC Scholar-Athlete ... 2004 WAC All-Academic ... 2003 WAC Freshman All-Academic.
Sr., OH/DS, Briana Rempel
Appeared in two matches ... tied career-high mark of one dig against UC Davis ... four-time Deans List ... three-time Fresno State Scholar-Athlete ... two-time WAC All-Academic ... two-time WAC Scholar-Athlete.
So., S, Ilima Sam Fong
Appeared in 22 matches ... had season-high 49 assists &18 attempts versus Tulsa ... had season-best three aces against Cal Poly ... had season-high 13 digs versus CS Northridge ... recorded first career block solo against Boise State ... Fresno State Invitational all-tournament ... had seven 10+ dig & double-doubles ... averaged 8.93 assists per game ... in the school's freshman record book, ranks No. 4 for assists (545).