Fresno State Classic Features Stellar Field
Senior outside hitter Marissa Brand logged a season high 10 kills vs. Wichita State.
Senior outside hitter Marissa Brand logged a season high 10 kills vs. Wichita State.

Sept. 10, 2013

By Geoff Thurner

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Week 3 Tournament: Fresno State Classic Presented by Deli Delicious
Location: Save Mart Center, Fresno, Calif.
Tournament Website:
Mountain West Live Videostream (every match):
Announcers: Stephen Trembley, Bree Cooksey

Friday, September 13
5 p.m. - Fresno State (2-4) vs. Belmont (3-6)
7:30 p.m. - No. 20 Oregon (4-3) vs. CSU Bakersfield (5-2)

Saturday, September 14
10 a.m. - No. 20 Oregon (4-3) vs. Belmont (3-6)
Noon - Fresno State (2-4) vs. CSU Bakersfield (5-2)
5 p.m. - CSU Bakersfield (5-2) vs. Belmont (3-6)
7:30 p.m. - Fresno State (2-4) vs. No. 20 Oregon (4-3)

- Staff and Faculty Appreciation night (Friday vs. Belmont). All Fresno State staff and faculty receive free admission with a valid Bulldog ID.
- Autograph / Meet the Team Day (Saturday vs. CSUB). Fans can get player autographs immediately after the match.
- Greek Night (Saturday evening vs. Oregon). The first 200 student get free pizza. Greek competitions will be staged, and the fraternity and sorority houses with the most attendees win a $250 Best Buy gift card.
- 100 For 100 - One student will win $100 at any match that has 100 students in attendance.

This Friday-Saturday, September 13-14, the Fresno State volleyball team (2-4) continues its challenging preseason slate with its third two-day, three-match tournament of the year. In the Fresno State Classic Presented by Deli Delicious, the `Dogs welcome a pair of NCAA Tournament returnees in Belmont (3-6) and returning national runner-up and No. 20 Oregon (4-3), along with area rival CSU Bakersfield (5-2).

Returning Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champion and East Division preseason favorite Belmont (3-6) was an NCAA Tournament First Round advancer last fall after it went 18-17 overall and 11-5 in the conference. Off to its best start since 2005, CSU Bakersfield (5-2) was tabbed to finish fifth in the WAC Coaches Preseason Poll this fall after it went 14-17 overall in 2012. No. 20 Oregon (4-3) welcomes back an All-America duo at setter and outside hitter from its Pac-12 and NCAA runner-up squads in 2012, but also graduated a pair of starters at both outside hitter and libero/defensive specialist.

In the Portland Nike Invitational last weekend, Fresno State opened the tourney with a 3-0 win over Portland, then fell to a pair of NCAA Regional Semifinalist returnees in No. 25 BYU (3-0) and Wichita State (3-1).

The Bulldogs held the Pilots to an opponent season low hitting total (.071), and individually featured senior outside hitter Korrin Wild's second double-double of 2013 (and 30th career-wise), and a season kills high by senior outside hitter Marissa Brand (10).

On Saturday, BYU limited Fresno State to a season-low hitting mark (.102), and the Cougars' .341 hitting mark was an opponent season high.

Against Wichita State, the Bulldogs set a team season high in aces (10) thanks to a school-record seven aces by senior Holly Franks. The right-side hitter also posted her second double-double as a `Dog (12 kills, 11 digs) and her second-highest hitting mark (.333).

Individually last weekend in the Nike Portland Invitational, Fresno State's veteran and talented squad was balanced by several impressive efforts by fresh faces.

• All-Tournament Team selection and senior outside hitter Korrin Wild (Kingsburg, Calif.) led the team in kills (10), hitting (.333) and aces (3) in the opener vs. Portland, and her 13 digs marked her second double-double of the season and 30th career-wise. On the season, she paces the team in kills (3.32 p/s), aces (0.36 p/s) and points (3.78), and ranks top 10 this week in the Mountain West in kills (sixth), points (seventh) and aces (10th). The first week of the season she led the team in kills in two matches (21 vs. Santa Clara; 14 vs. CSN); and claimed a double-double vs. CSN (14 kills, 11 digs). She nearly had two other double-doubles vs. Rice (18 kills, 9 digs) and SCU (21 kills, 8 digs). This week she moved up a spot on the `Dog all-time career aces list to seventh (113) after her six aces in 10 sets in the Portland-hosted matches.

• Against Wichita State, senior right side hitter Holly Franks (Tollhouse, Calif.) set a new school record in aces (7). She scored her second double-double of the season vs. the Shockers with her 11 digs, and had her second +.300 total of the year (.333). The weekend before vs. Cal State Northridge she led the team with her season highs in kills (14), hitting (.400), and points (20), and added three aces, five blocks and 10 digs for the double-double. She also had +10 kills vs. Rice (10) to claim All-Tournament honors.

• Junior middle blocker Maci Murdock logged the team's two highest hitting marks of the season vs. Rice (.667, 11 kills) and Santa Clara (.600, 10 kills) the opening weekend, and was just shy of her career best from 2011 (.700 vs. La. Tech). She had another +.300 effort vs. CSN (.348, 11K), and posted a team season high in blocks (7) vs. both Rice and Santa Clara. This week, she ranks ninth in the conference and first on the squad in hitting (.353), and third for the `Dogs in blocks (0.64 p/s) and fourth in kills (1.68 p/s).

• Two weekends ago, sophomore Zana Bowens posted the first +20-kill totals of her career vs. Rice (team season high 21, .280) and Santa Clara (20, .341) after she entered the season with a prior kills best of five last year vs. Northern Arizona. A starter in all six matches this year, she also enjoyed her first career double-double thanks to her 12 digs vs. Santa Clara. Her 24 points vs. Rice is also the team season high and her personal career high.

• Junior transfer and setter Cori Ehmen leads the conference for most assists in a match with her totals from her first two Bulldog matches vs. Rice (62) and Santa Clara (60), That 62 tally is tied for sixth-best for Fresno State since the start of rally scoring in 2001. The addition from Western Iowa Community College added four blocks vs. Santa Clara, and single aces vs. SCU and CSN. Her season assists average (10.44 per set) ranked fifth in the conference this week, and tops among newcomers.

• Senior middle blocker Lauren Albertson tied the team's season high for blocks vs. Santa Clara (7) and added six vs. CS Northridge. She also racked up 11 kills vs. Rice and hit .350, and added eight and seven kills, respectively, vs. Santa Clara and CSN. A starter in all six matches, she led the team this week in blocks average this season (0.96 per set average).

• Junior libero Christina Lee logged the team's top dig totals of the year vs. Santa Clara (27) - the Mountain West West's second-best total of the year - and Rice (24). She has led the team in digs in two contests this year and started five matches.

• Freshman libero Maggie Eppright made her first collegiate start vs. Wichita State last weekend and logged a career high 14 digs. The match before she racked up three digs in the third set vs. No. 25 BYU to tie her previous match season high (8) vs. Rice. She logged a season high two aces at Portland, and had another in her collegiate debut vs. Rice.

Coming off an 18-13 overall record in 2012, Fresno State ranked #90 among the 330 teams nationally in last year's NCAA RPI ratings - respective program bests since 2004 and `03. The `Dogs are in their second season in the Mountain West and placed fourth in `12 (9-7).

Sixth-year head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell welcomes back a veteran Bulldog squad that features six of seven starters from 2012, and 10 letterwinners. Two senior outside hitters - Marissa Brand and Korrin Wild - are former all-conference choices, and junior middle blocker Maci Murdock was an all-freshman team choice in 2011.

Among the squad's four newcomers, three have already cracked the starting line-up - senior right side hitter Holly Franks (Cal Poly), junior setter Cori Ehmen (Iowa Western Community College) and freshman libero Maggie Eppright. Franks (Tollhouse, Calif.) led the Mustangs in kills and points last season (2.94 k/s; 3.22 p/s); Ehmen (York, Neb.) was a former Nebraska first-team all-state honoree for York High School; and Eppright was a Pac-7 and Country Player of the Year and two-time all-league and all-county choice for San Luis Obispo High School.

This weekend, the `Dogs will play Belmont for the first time ever, while it owns a 15-4 all-time mark vs. CSUB and 9-10 ledger against Oregon. Fresno State won its first nine matches with the Roadrunners from 1979-91, and also its last four from 2009-11. Fresno State won the first five tilts vs. Oregon from 1979-82 and also in 1984, `84, `91 and `98, while the Ducks sport a four-match win streak with their most recent meeting in 2010 (3-1).

Picked to win the East Division of the 2013 Ohio Valley Conference Coaches Preseason Poll, Belmont's wins this year have come vs. Columbia (3-2) and Gardner-Webb (3-2). It dropped its other contests to MW member Boise State (3-0), Miami (OH) (3-0), Western Kentucky (3-1), Northwestern (3-1) and Northern Illinois (3-1). Its top NCAA team rankings last year were in digs (54th, 16.87) and assists (129th, 12.13), and its top individuals were senior libero Jamie Lundstrom (digs, 51st, 5.11) and senior setter Hannah Miranda (assists, 65th, 10.57). Last month, senior opposite side hitter Jen Myer, Miranda and senior middle blocker Allison McCoy were preseason All-OVC selections, and Myer and McCoy were league leaders last year in assists and hitting (.329). This year's leading kill-getters are freshman outside hitter Jessica Vestal (3.55 p/s, .097) and junior outside hitter Scarlet Gable (2.76 p/s, .168), and three players have +0.20 aces/set averages - Miranda (0.27), Gable (0.21) and Vestal (0.21). Last year, the squad won the Ohio Valley Conference tournament to stake its third NCAA Tournament trip under 11th-year head coach Deane Webb (with other bids in 2006 and `08). In prior stops, he served as a head coach at East Tennessee State and Indiana Weselyan.

Picked to finish fifth in the Western Athletic Conference this year, CSU Bakersfield is on a three-match win streak after decisions over Presbyterian (3-0), James Madison (3-1) and Wyoming (3-1) last weekend. Earlier in the year it opened with victories over Charlotte (3-1) and Charleston Southern (3-0) and losses at Davidson (3-2) and at Radford (3-2). The squad returns all six starters and 10 letterwinners from last year's squad that went 14-17 overall. In last year's NCAA rankings, the squad ranked seventh nationally in aces (1.69 per set). Senior outside hitter Debora Araujo ranked top 50 nationally last season in points (40th, 4.73 p/s) and kills (46th, 4.13 p/s), and other top-250 sightings were senior middle blocker Julia Bowen (blocks, 227th, 0.96), and senior setters Lisa Bartsch (aces, 226th, 0.28 p/s) and Fernanda Goncalves (assists, 103rd, 10.01 p/s). This year, Araujo (4.04 k/s, .212) and Molly O'Hagan (3.43 p/s, .417) lead the team in kills, and other category leaders include Goncalves (9.93 a/s), Mariah Alvidrez (5.32 digs p/s) and Kelsee Sawyer (0.46 aces p/s). Head Coach Jolene Shepardson is in her third season at the helm, and sports a 27-37 record at the helm after she served as an assistant coach at Virginia Tech, American, Winthrop and Regis. As a player, the former outside hitter helped South Florida to an NCAA tournament bid in 2002 and a Conference USA title.

The Ducks were tabbed No. 8 nationally in the preseason before its wins over Eastern Washington (3-0), Bryant (3-0) and Portland State (3-0), and losses at No. 7 Michigan (3-0) and No. 20 Michigan State (3-1) and to Ohio (3-0). Last year, the team placed second in the NCAA Tournament and the Pac-12 (16-4) and went 30-5 overall. The Ducks said farewell to four starters - the outside hitter pair of Katherine Fischer and AVCA National Player of the Year Alaina Bergsma, A2 National Team libero Haley Jacob, and defensive specialist Kellie Kawasaki. UO still welcomes back a pair of All-Americans in first-team setter and senior Lauren Plum and third-team outside hitter and junior Liz Brenner. Plum ranked first nationally in assists in 2012 (13.37 per set), and Brenner stood 69th in kills (3.92 p/s) and 70th in points (4.39 p/s). Team-wise, Oregon led the nation last year in kills (15.95 p/s), and stood ninth in hitting (.289) and 70th in aces (70th, 1.36 p/s). In 2013, sophomore outside hitter Martenne Bettendorf (3.83, .292) is one of three Ducks with +3.00 kill per set averages with Brenner (3.71, .193) and senior middle blocker and All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention Ariana Williams (3.12, .370). Three Ducks have +0.20 ace per set averages - Plum (0.35), junior libero Natalie Bookout Gonzalez (0.25) and senior outside hitter Bethany Bair (0.22). U.S. Junior National Team member and freshman Amanda Benson is the new starting libero and is averaging 4.94 digs per set. Ninth-year head coach Jim Moore was tabbed the Volleyball Magazine Coach of the Year last fall and sports a 521-245 career record. In his prior stops, he led Northern Michigan to a national title in 1993 and Texas to a Big 12 title.

In the 2013 Mountain West Preseason Coaches Poll, the Bulldogs received 65 votes and were within five votes of the three teams just ahead - UNLV (third, 70), Utah State (fourth, 68) and New Mexico (fifth, 66). Last year's conference regular season co-champions San Diego State (first, 99) and Colorado State (second, 90) led the 11-team poll. The Aztecs received nine of the 11 first-place votes, and the Rams picked up the other two. Other conference teams included Boise State (seventh, 51), Wyoming (eighth, 37), San José State (ninth, 27), Air Force (10th, 17) and Nevada (11th, 15).

Senior outside hitter Korrin Wild was the highest Bulldog individual on last year's NCAA stat charts after she ranked 12th nationally in aces per set (0.44 avg.). The all-conference hitter also paced the Mountain West in the category and stood fourth in points (3.99 per set) and sixth in kills (3.39 p/s). Other returnees ranked top 10 individually in the MW in `12 include junior middle blocker Maci Murdock (hitting, third, .332), senior outside hitter Marissa Brand (seventh, kills, 3.18 p/s) and junior libero Christina Lee (digs, eighth, 3.94 p/s).

In 2012, the Bulldogs paced the conference team categories for aces (1.35 per set) and digs (15.23 p/s). Its other rankings in the then-nine-team league follow: assists (fourth, 12.43 p/s), kills (fourth, 13.46 p/s), hitting (sixth, .199), opponent hitting (sixth, .209) and blocks (ninth, 1.79 p/s).

NCAA-wise, the team ranked top 100 in three categories - aces (67th), kills (70th, 13.57 p/s) and assists (83rd), and its other rankings among the 330 Division 1 teams follow: win-loss percentage (118th, .581), digs (140th), hitting (163rd), and blocks (230th).

For the fourth straight season, the `Dogs received the American Volleyball Coaches (AVCA) Academic Team Award for their combined +3.40 grade point average for the 2012-13 academic year. Fresno State was one of five Division 1 programs from the state of California (with Pacific, Stanford, San Francisco and St. Mary's) and 130 nationally. Individually, senior outside hitter Marissa Brand received Capital One Academic All-District 8 honors last fall for her 3.90 grade point average. She won similar honors in 2011 as did Cecilia Agraz in 2011 (1st Team) and 2010 (2nd Team) - the first two-time honoree in the program's 42-year history. Agraz also earned the team's first Academic All-America honor in 2011.

Senior outside hitter Korrin Wild was a preseason 2013 All-Mountain West choice this past month, and one of three hitters chosen by league head coaches to the seven-person team. The Sanger, Calif., native was also a second-team all-league pick as a sophomore in 2011 -- the same season middle blocker Maci Murdock was an All-WAC Freshman Team choice. In 2010, current senior Marissa Brand was an All-WAC Second Team honoree in 2011 and All-Freshman Team choice in `09.

Earlier in head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell's Bulldog tenure, other all-league nods went to Brianna Clarke (1st Team-2011; 2nd Team-2009, `10) and Kelly Leonardo (2nd Team-2009), while Clarke and Baylee Platt were All-Freshman Team choices in 2008.

The team's non-returning starting position - setter - will be manned by junior transfer Cori Ehmen (Iowa Western Community College, York, Neb.) and freshman Brooke Legaux (Mission Viejo, Calif.). Ehmen was a Nebraska prep all-state first-team honoree as a junior and second-team choice as a sophomore for York High School. Legaux was an All-CIF South Section First Team pick as a prep senior for Tesoro High School and a League MVP.

Their presence will alleviate the loss of Barbara Alcantara who was an All-Mountain West choice as a senior in 2012 after she led the conference in assists (11.23) and ranked 27th nationally.

After ranking in the lower half of the 330 Division 1 programs for the four years before her arrival, head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell now has a three-year streak in the nation's upper half with the `Dogs. The team's last three rankings - 2012 (90), 2011 (138) and 2010 (150) - were its best since 2004, and a complete listing of the team's rankings the last 11 years follows:

Fresno State Volleyball RPI (2002-2012): 2012: 90; 2011: 138; 2010: 150; 2009: 217; 2008: 275; 2007: 261; 2006: 223; 2005: 180; 2004: 93; 2003: 45; 2002: 46

The California State University Board of Trustees named Dr. Joseph I. Castro, former vice chancellor of student academic affairs of the University of California, San Francisco, as the eighth president of Fresno State, beginning Aug. 1, 2013.

Castro joined Fresno State after holding several leadership positions at UC campuses, most recently serving as vice chancellor for student academic affairs at UC San Francisco since 2010. Prior to that, he served as vice provost (2008-10), associate vice chancellor for student academic affairs (2006-08) and interim graduate dean at UCSF from October 2011 to March 2012.

Overall during his 23-year career, Castro served in leadership positions within the UC system at the Berkeley, Davis, Merced and Santa Barbara campuses and at the Office of the President. Castro earned a bachelor's degree in political science and master's degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley and a doctorate in higher education policy and leadership from Stanford University.

A native of Hanford, Calif., in the San Joaquin Valley, Castro is the first member of his family to attend college. He and his wife Mary, who is also a Valley native, have three children including a daughter who is a student at Humboldt State University.

The Bulldog Foundation supports student-athletes as they strive for excellence in the classroom, in competition and in life "Beyond the Game." This mission is accomplished through the cultivation of individual and business relationships throughout the San Joaquin Valley and the Red Wave. Philanthropic donations can be made by calling 559-278-7160.

The initiation of the $6 million capital project symbolizes the Bulldogs' strong commitment to create and continually enhance the best possible "student-athlete experience" at Fresno State. The unique and essential facility developed for preventative medicine, nutritional counseling, physician examination, injury treatment, on-site x-ray and rehabilitation services. The center will serve as a cornerstone of Fresno State's "Student-Athlete Village" and is designed to centralize several student-athlete support functions, including sports medicine, academic counseling, strength and conditioning, nutrition education, and equipment services within a single convenient location.



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