COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Looking ahead to its first home exhibition this Saturday, the Fresno State volleyball team was picked eighth by Mountain West head coaches in the annual preseason poll released Tuesday.
Coming off a fourth-place MW finish, the Bulldogs received 40 points in anticipation of their seventh season under head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell.
Last year's champion Colorado State led the poll with 97 points, and received seven of the 11 first-place votes. New Mexico followed in second place with 91 points, and received the other four first-place votes.
The upper half of the conference picks also included Utah State (third, 81), San Diego State (fourth, 73), Wyoming (fifth, 55) and Boise State (sixth, 54).
UNLV (seventh, 50) stood just ahead of Fresno State, and was followed by Air Force (ninth, 31), San Jose State (10th, 21) and Nevada (11th, 12).
"We've often garnered a conservative preseason pick which is fine with us," Netherby-Sewell said. "With the departure of so many impact players and the arrival of new athletes - the conference has no idea who we are at this point. We do."
The `Dogs' conference fourth-place tie in 2013 equaled or exceeded its preseason pick (sixth) for the fifth time under Netherby-Sewell after similar efforts in `12 (preseason - fourth / final - fourth), '11 (fifth / fourth),'09 (sixth / fourth) and '08 (eighth / eighth).
A complete MW preseason poll press release is available at the http://bit.ly/YwHjHX URL address.
Looking ahead to this fall, returning starters from last year include senior middle blocker Maci Murdock, junior outside hitter Zana Bowens, senior and junior middle blockers Katie and Molly Pearson, and the libero pair of senior Christina Lee and sophomore Maggie Eppright.
Senior outside hitter Jaimee-Lee Morrow and sophomore setter Brooke Legaux round out the list of returnees which is joined by a talented group of six newcomers.
Junior transfer and setter Jelena Jovanovic (Belgrade, Serbia) was a two-year starter at Florida Atlantic, and redshirt freshman transfer and outside hitter Haylee Roberts (Bakersfield, Calif.) was a former prep All-American.
The squad's four true freshman newcomers include defensive specialist Jacqueline Hutcheson (Exeter, Calif.), middle blocker Lauren Torres (Visalia, Calif.) and outside hitters Taylor Brubaker (San Clemente, Calif.) and Carly Scarbrough (Sarasota, Fla.).
"This team will train and play with the same courage, spirit and vigor as any other Bulldog team we've had," Netherby-Sewell said. "We're slowly figuring out who on this team will rise to the top when challenges are mounting. But for a very new team, they play well together. We have loads of talent coming up through the ranks. We can't predict how quickly we will compete as an experienced team, but I am assured we will play hard until the final whistle is blown."
Fresno State fans will get their first glimpse of this year's squad in this Saturday's exhibition vs. various Bulldog alumni. The event starts at 1 p.m. on Aug. 23 at the Save Mart Center, and offers free admission and parking to fans, and concessions stands will also be open.
The Bulldogs then point towards a 34-match slate that 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).
Fresno State then looks ahead to a 10-date volleyball home schedule at the Save Mart Center, kicked off by a match vs. Fresno Pacific on September 23. The `Dogs' remaining nine Mountain West Conference home matches follow in October and November.
Season ticket options and prices are similar to last year: Adult General Admission: $40 / Flex Four Pack: $79 / Youth (Ages 5-18) & Senior (Ages 65+): $30 / Faculty & Staff: $30.
Fans can also take advantage of a new Family Flex Plan for only $79, and the four-person season ticket package gives the flexibility to exchange tickets in any combination of quantity and matches. That means four people can come to all 10 home matches, 40 people to one match, or other combinations adding up to 40 tickets for the season. Altogether, the deal works out to less than $2 per ticket / per person.
Bulldog volleyball fans are encouraged to purchase tickets online (or via the ticket link at the top of the page), or can call 559-278-3647 or visit the Bulldog Stadium ticket office on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
A complete 2014 Bulldog season schedule is available via the link at the top of the page.
2014 ALL-MOUNTAIN WEST PRESEASON WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL TEAM
Player, Class, Pos., Team
Adrianna Culbert, Jr., OPP, Colorado State
Kelsey Snider, Sr., MB, Colorado State
Chantale Riddle, Sr., OPP, New Mexico - MW Preseason Player of the Year
Elle Brainard, Jr., OPP, Utah State
Erin Kirby, Sr., MB, Wyoming
Deedra Foss, Sr., S, Colorado State - MW Preseason Setter of the Year
Allison Davies, Sr., L, UNLV - MW Preseason Libero of the Year
2014 MOUNTAIN WEST PRESEASON WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL COACHES' POLL
1. Colorado State (7), 97
2. New Mexico (4), 91
3. Utah State, 81
4. San Diego State, 73
5. Wyoming, 55
6. Boise State, 54
7. UNLV, 50
8. Fresno State, 40
9. Air Force, 31
10. San José State, 21
11. Nevada, 12
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