Aug 24, 2013
FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State volleyball team kicked off its home slate with a strong showing in its Alumnae Match Saturday afternoon at the Save Mart Center.
The Bulldogs won all five sets in the exhibition against its alum by a 25-13, 25-8, 25-16, 25-17, 15-3 score. Saturday's contest started the program's final week of preparation before its official home opener - the Bulldog Classic Presented by Deli Delicious next Friday-Saturday.
In front of a crowd of nearly 300, sixth-year head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell rotated nearly her whole roster for the entire match as 12 players saw action.
"After being in the middle of three-a-day practices for several weeks, we learned a lot today," Netherby-Sewell said. "It's always good to take on new faces in a match-like setting. We were a little nervous at times, but that's understandable. I was pretty impressed with the Alumnae team - they really deserve credit for how they played. I loved their energy, attitude, and their range in age, and really appreciated them coming out to make today a special day."
With the return of all the team's top hitters from last year, offense was at a premium for the `Dogs. Five different hitters tallied double-digit kill tallies and topped .300 - senior outside hitters Korrin Wild (15, .333) and Marissa Brand (10, .333) and middle blocker Lauren Albertson (10, .421), junior middle blocker Maci Murdock (10, .714) and sophomore outside hitter Zana Bowens (10, .500).
"Our outsides have a great battle going on," Netherby-Sewell said. "We have so much talent there, so now that they're passing better that's great. Our liberos also did a good job, too, so I was happy with our passing overall."
With the graduation of All-Mountain West setter Barbara Alcantara after last season, the offense showcased a new setter - junior transfer Cori Ehmen. The York, Neb., native played all five sets Saturday after she starred the last two seasons at Iowa Western Community College.
"Cori has a really fast release and is working on keeping the hitters in tempo," Netherby-Sewell said. "Once she perfects that, we will really be firing on all cylinders. She is ahead of schedule, yet still has some room to grow. She showed today that she's a gamer and plays well in matches."
Other unofficial stats from the defensive, passing and serving categories were unavailable, but the aces category may have been led by junior right side hitter Katie Pearson who had the match's longest streak in the final set.
"Katie's a fine server, and really executed what we had talked about in the huddle," Netherby-Sewell. "She loves to get back there and cause some trouble. Overall, our serving was a little inconsistent. We don't want to be tentative, but also not overly- aggressive, so that's something we will continue to work on."
Contrasting the team's experience in the front row, one freshman made her first appearance - libero/defensive specialist Maggie Eppright. The San Luis Obispo, Calif., native landed several aces and played several sets.
"Maggie was a little nervous early on, but relaxed as the match went on," Netherby-Sewell said. "She has so much talent, and once she gets more experience she will help us defensively."
Her presence boosted an already experienced libero corps anchored by junior Christina Lee who started the match and is one of six returning starters for the squad.
Looking ahead to next Friday-Saturday, August 30-31, the `Dogs host the Bulldog Invitational Presented by Deli Delicious. The team first welcomes Rice for a 5 p.m. match Friday night, then faces NCAA veteran Santa Clara and Cal State Northridge on Saturday at Noon and 7:30 p.m., respectively.
The other three teams will also play Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
"I love our team," Netherby-Sewell. "We're looking forward to a good year since we have five seniors and so much maturity. We continue to get better every day in practice, but there's a lot of work still to do. The opening tournament features a lot of talented teams, so to take them on at home will be a great way to open the season."
"Catch the Wave" --- Season tickets for Fresno State Volleyball start at $55 for adults and $35 for seniors and youth. A special 12-game tournament mini-plan is available for $15 and the Family & Friends Season Flex Plan starts at $89. To purchase season tickets, please visit www.gobulldogs.com or call 559-278-DOGS.
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