FRESNO, Calif. - With the Fresno State volleyball team's season opener less than four days away at the Adidas Rice Invitational, fans can preview a different portion of this year's squad each day.
Although the middle blocker position graduated two-time captain Lauren Albertson last year, the 'Dogs still return two upperclassmen with starting experience, and a talented newcomer that will challenge for a starting spot.
At the heart of the Bulldogs' fast-paced offense, senior Maci Murdock sported a .358 hitting percentage last year - third-best all-time in team history and 69th nationally in 2013.
Career-wise, she also looms as the Bulldogs' all-time leader in hitting (.329), and ranks eighth in block assists (264) and ninth in total blocks (291)
A three-time all-tournament pick already, she also picked up her first MW Player of the Week honor last year in the middle of a five-match, 60-attempt error-free streak during the heart of MW action.
The Turlock, Calif., native was equally dependable defensively, and led the team in blocks on the season (0.90 p/s) and in 17 matches. She posted her season blocks high (8) in five sets vs. Boise State and four sets against Wyoming, and added seven blocks in three other matches vs. UC Irvine (4s), Utah State (4s) and Rice (5).
Senior Katie Pearson played a career-high 20 matches and 56 sets last year, mostly in the second half of the year.
At season's end, the San Jose, Calif., product ranked 12th in the MW in aces in conference action (0.23 p/s) and third on the squad after she dialed up 12 aces in the span of 20 sets midway through the conference slate.
Her blocks per set average (0.71 p/s) stood fourth on the squad, and she led the team in the category in four contests - including a season-high five in a sweep of Nevada.
Freshman Lauren Torres (Visalia, Calif.) adds another talented physical presence and was a 2013 Fresno Bee Fall All-Star and West Yosemite League MVP.
During her prep career, she led El Diamante High School to three WYL titles, a D-II championship and runner-up finish and 102-22 record, and was also a talented jumper for the Miner track and field squad.
Looking ahead, the `Dogs kick off the 2014 campaign in Houston this Friday, August 29 and take on Louisiana-Lafayette at 2 p.m. Pacific Time. They return on the final day of the Adidas Rice Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 30 to face UC Davis and Rice at 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. PT, respectively.
More tournament information and a link to online broadcasts (for purchase) are available at the www.RiceOwls.com website.
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