FRESNO, Calif. - Leading into the Fresno State volleyball team's season opener Friday afternoon, fans can preview the final portion of this year's squad before the first serve at 2 p.m. Pacific Time.
The libero position is the team's deepest this fall, thanks to a pair of returning starters who have shared the opening call the past three seasons.
One of the team's most called-upon players the past three years, senior Christina Lee played every set as both a freshman (108) and sophomore (120) and all but three last year (119 / 122). She has focused on action as a libero as a sophomore and parts of her freshman and junior years, with the other stints came as a setter (based on the team's needs).
After playing the team's first five matches last year at libero, she ended the campaign with the team's second- and fourth-best marks of the season vs. Santa Clara (27) and Rice (24), and the latter was the conference's seventh-best mark of the campaign.
The San Francisco, Calif., native's 1,111 career digs ranks sixth all-time for Fresno State in the rally scoring era, and her digs per set average (3.22) stands seventh-best.
When Lee was called into emergency setting in early September 2013, sophomore Maggie Eppright shifted into the starting libero role, and ultimately started 26 of the team's final 27 matches.
The San Luis Obispo, Calif., native ended the year ranked sixth in the conference in digs (4.00 p/s) and tops among freshmen. Overall, she led the team in the category in 16 contests, and her 391 digs on the year stood as the program's best among freshmen in the rally scoring era, and second-best among frosh in school history behind Tricia Tuley (441, 1993).
She was a key scorer for the `Dogs at the service line and led the team in category in 10 matches - third-most on the squad. Among her five contests with multiple aces, her season high (3) came vs. CSU Bakersfield (5 sets) and Nevada (3 sets).
Giving the `Dogs another option both defensively in the back row and as a serving specialist, freshman Jacqueline Hutcheson has also impressed the coaches in the preseason camp.
The Exeter, Calif., product was a three-time Central Sequoia All-League and All-Tulare County choice and an All-Central Elite Senior selection. She helped her Exeter High School contend for Simi Valley and Central Section honors each year and also played club for the Central Cal Gold team.
Area sports fans might recognize her last name as her older brother Patrick was a former infield starter in 2011 and '12 for the `Dog baseball squad.
Looking ahead, the `Dogs kick off the 2014 campaign in Houston on 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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