'Dogs Think Pink For Conference Home Opener
By Geoff Thurner
Sept. 25, 2013
Fresno State Volleyball Preview - Week 5: Mountain West Conference Opener
Thursday, September 26
Saturday, September 28
THIS WEEK'S TICKET / MARKETING PROMOTIONS
`DOGS OPEN CONFERENCE SLATE VS. AGGIES & BRONCOS
SIZING UP THIS WEEK'S FOES
Last year's WAC regular season champion Aggies opened MW play last weekend with a pair of wins over the Broncos in Logan (3-0) and in Boise (3-1).
Boise State (5-6) is seeking its fourth straight winning season and ranks second in the conference in hitting (.258) and third in aces (1.30 p/s) and kills (13.43 p/s).
RECENT TEAM NOTES
Against Xavier, the team posted its third sweep of the year and tied its season team high in hitting (.300). Against Patriot League preseason favorite American, senior outside hitter Marissa Brand tied the team season high in kills (21) in her second start of 2013. In the finale vs. UC Irvine, the team posted a season high in digs (96) and held a 7-1 advantage in aces.
Recent Fresno State Starters (Key 2013 Stats)
RECENT BULLDOG HEROES
In the Fresno State Classic, All-Tournament Team selection and senior outside hitter Korrin Wild (Kingsburg, Calif.) claimed her second straight all-tournament team nod in as many weeks. The former All-MW choice led players from all four teams in kills (4.60 per set) and points (4.85 p/s) and ranked fourth in digs (3.40 p/s) and tops among non-liberos for the three-match tourney. She led the Bulldogs in kills and points in all three matches, and in the tourney finale vs. returning national runner-up and No. 20 Oregon, she hit a season high (.391) and also led the team in digs (6). The preseason All-Mountain West pick registered a team season-best in digs (21) for non-liberos vs. Belmont (21), and her 19 kills was two shy of her team season high. Those totals vs. the Ducks in hitting (.391) and vs. the Bruins in kills (19) and points (21) were the team's fourth-, fifth- and sixth-best overall of the season, respectively. In the opener vs. Belmont, she also completed her third double-double of 2013 and 31st career-wise. In the second match, her 14 kills and 14.5 points vs. Bakersfield were team three-set season bests, and her 13 kills and 13.5 points vs. Oregon came in only two sets of duty.
On the season, she stood top five this week in the MW in kills (third, 3.69 p/s) and points (fifth, 4.09 p/s), and 78th and 93rd nationally. Career-wise for Fresno State, she moved up two spots that weekend on the career digs list (seventh, 1,009), and also stands top 10 on similar lists for aces per set (third, 0.31 p/s) and aces (seventh, 113).
Last weekend, senior right side hitter Holly Franks (Tollhouse, Calif.) was tabbed the UC Irvine Tournament MVP after she led the team for the three matches combined in points (4.17) and blocks (0.83), and ranked second in kills (3.42) and aces (0.33), and third in hitting (.174) and digs (2.92). In the tourney finale vs. UC Irvine, she posted her season highs in kills (18) and points (21.5) - the team's best marks in a non-five-set match in 2013 - and led the team in the categories overall for the fourth and third matches, respectively, this year. Against American, she posted her second-highest season totals in kills (16) and her fourth-highest points total (19). She has topped the team in aces in three matches in '13, and her seven aces vs. Wichita State is a new school record. Among her five double-doubles this season, others came vs. Cal State Northridge (14 kills, 10 digs), Wichita State (12 kills, 11 digs, .333), Belmont (14 digs, 13 digs) and CSU Bakersfield (10 kills, 10 digs, .320), and she was just shy of another in the three-setter vs. No. 20 Oregon (8 kills, 8 digs). She also claimed Fresno State Invitational All-Tournament honors her first weekend as a Bulldog after she hit a season high vs. Cal State Northridge (.400) - one of three +.300 totals on the year. On the season, she leads the team in aces and ranks 10th in the Mountain West (0.29 p/s), and also ranks second for FS in kills (2.73), points (3.42), blocks (0.73) and hitting (.192), and fourth in digs (2.19).
Two weeks ago, junior middle blocker Maci Murdock (Turlock, Calif.) received Fresno State Classic all-tournament honors after she connected on a season high in kills (11), logged six blocks, and hit .375 vs. Belmont. In the tourney's other two matches, she added +.400 marks vs. CSUB (.600, 6 kills) and No. 20 Oregon (.429, 8 kills). The first week of the season, she logged the team's two highest hitting marks of the season vs. Rice (.667, 11 kills) and Santa Clara (.600, 10 kills), and had another +.300 effort vs. CSN (.348, 11K). She posted a team season high in blocks (7) vs. Rice, Santa Clara and at UC Irvine, and has paced the squad in four matches in '13. This week, she ranks 10th in the conference, 109th nationally and first on the squad in hitting (.350), and third for the `Dogs in blocks (0.67 p/s) and fifth in kills (1.85 p/s).
In late August, sophomore outside hitter Zana Bowens (Long Beach, Calif.) opened the year with her first +20-kill career totals vs. Rice (team season high 21, .280) and Santa Clara (20, .341) after she entered the season with a prior best of five last year vs. Northern Arizona. A starter in all 12 matches this year, she enjoyed her first career double-double thanks to her 12 digs vs. Santa Clara. Last weekend, she added another double-double at UC Irvine (17 kills, 15 digs) and was just shy of similar honors earlier that day vs. American (9 kills, 11 digs). She kicked off the tourney with 10 kills and a .333 hitting mark vs. Xavier - her first match leader in hitting this year - and she also had team match highs in kills vs. Rice (21) and Xavier (10). Her 24 points vs. Rice is also the team season high and a personal career high. Her five blocks in three sets vs. CSUB was also a career high by one over her tally against CSN (4), while her preseason best was from 2012 (1).
Senior middle blocker Lauren Albertson (Fresno, Calif.) tied the team's season high for blocks vs. Santa Clara (7) and added six vs. CS Northridge the opening weekend of the season. She racked up 11 kills vs. Rice and hit .350, and added eight and seven kills, respectively, vs. SCU and CSN. A starter in 10 matches this year, she led the team this week in blocks average season-wise (0.87 p/s).
The past two weekends, junior Christina Lee (San Francisco, Calif.) made her first starts at setter for the team since 2011 and has helped the team to a 4-2 mark. In that span, she is averaging 10.61 assists per set (244 assists / 23 sets), and directed the team to a .300 team season high vs. both CSUB and Xavier. Her 57 assists vs. Belmont ranks fourth-best in the MW this year, and her 51 assists vs. the Anteaters is the team's best in a non-five-set match. Among her six starts at libero the first two weeks, she logged the team's top and third-best dig totals of 2013 vs. Santa Clara (27) and Rice (24). Her total vs. the Broncos is the Mountain West West's fourth-best total of the year and one of three match highs this year.
Freshman libero Maggie Eppright (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) has smoothly settled into the starting libero role the past seven matches and is one of the team's top serve receivers. She tied the team season high in digs vs. UC Irvine (27) - the fourth-best mark overall in the conference in 2013 and the best in a non-five-set match. She logged four other double-digit dig figures vs. American (16), Belmont (15), Wichita State (14) and Xavier (14). Altogether, she has paced team in digs the last three matches and five times overall in 2013. She has connected on multiple aces in four matches, including a season high (3) in a sweep vs. CSU Bakersfield - the team's second-best mark of 2013. Her two aces vs. Xavier was her first match high for the `Dogs.
Former All-Western Athletic Conference honoree and redshirt senior outside hitter Marissa Brand (Cypress, Calif.) enjoyed an impressive return to the starting lineup in the UC Irvine Tournament's three matches. Her 21 kills vs. American tied the team season high, and she also topped the squad in hitting (.288) for the first time in `13. She logged double-doubles vs. American (21 kills, 11 digs) and UC Irvine (15 kills, 15 digs) to give her 30 career-wise, and she just missed similar honors in the three-setter vs. Xavier (9 kills, 11 digs). Her .304 hitting mark vs. the Musketeers is one of two +.300 this year with the Portland sweep (.304, 10 kills). Her fourth double-digit dig tally came vs. Belmont (10). This week she ranks top 10 all-time for Fresno State in kills (11th, 1,034) and attempts (sixth, 3,165).
After several impressive efforts off the bench, redshirt sophomore middle blocker Molly Pearson (San Jose, Calif.) was rewarded with her first two starts of the season in the UC Irvine Tournament. Against American, her six blocks was one shy of the team season high, and she had an ace vs. the Eagles and Anteaters. In the tourney opener, she racked up six kills and a season-high hitting mark (.857) vs. Xavier with no errors among her seven attempts. Two weekends ago, her season high in kills (7) came vs. Belmont, and she hit .700 with no errors on her 10 attempts.
Junior outside hitter Jaimee-Lee Morrow (Mooroolbark, Australia) has been one of the team's most called upon serving specialists and has appeared in eight of the team's last nine matches and 24 of its last 34 sets. She connected on two aces vs. NCAA tournament returnees Wichita State and No. 20 Oregon and also posted one in wins at Portland and UC Irvine. She logged her first kill of the year vs. American, and her digs season high (2) came vs. UP.
FRESNO STATE / UTAH STATE / BOISE STATE SERIES HISTORY
THIS WEEK'S NCAA/MOUNTAIN WEST RANKINGS (per set averages)
Fresno State NCAA/MW Team Rankings
Utah State NCAA/MW Team Rankings
Utah State Individuals
Boise State NCAA/MW Team Rankings
Boise State Individuals
SCOUTING THE AGGIES (8-4, 2-0) - www.UtahStateAggies.com
SCOUTING THE BRONCOS (5-6, 0-2) - www.BroncoSports.com
That list includes last year's national runner-up Oregon, two more NCAA Regional advancers (BYU, Wichita State) and four more Round of 64 qualifiers (Belmont, Colorado State, San Diego State, Santa Clara).
In mid-August's AVCA preseason poll, three Fresno State foes stood top 25 - No. 8 Oregon, No. 13 BYU and No. 24 Wichita State - while CSU and SDSU received votes. Since then Colorado State has joined the top 25, and Cal State Northridge has received votes every week of the regular season.
Among various conference coach polls, six Bulldog opponents were tabbed their preseason favorites - Colorado State and San Diego State (Mountain West co-favorites), Belmont (Ohio Valley), BYU (West Coast), Rice (Conference USA) and Wichita State (Missouri Valley) - and four other non-conference foes sported legitimate postseason hopes - Oregon (Pac-12, fourth), Cal State Northridge (Big West, third), Xavier (Big East, third) and Santa Clara (WCC, sixth).
DOUBLE YOUR FUN
Identical twins Molly and Katie Pearson hail from Presentation High School in San Jose and have boosted the team in seven and three matches this season, respectively.
In recent weeks, Molly, a redshirt sophomore middle blocker, posted career highs in kills (7) vs. Belmont; six kills and a career-best .857 mark vs. Xavier, and six blocks vs. American. Katie, a junior right side hitter, also saw recent action in wins vs. Belmont and Portland and vs. No. 25 BYU.
As preps, the duo helped their Presentation team to a fifth-place MaxPreps.com national finish and a spot in the NorCal Division II finals.
FIGHTING SPIRIT TRACKER
FRESNO STATE TEAM SEASON PREVIEW
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.
'DOGS PART OF CROWDED RACE FOR MOUNTAIN WEST PRESEASON VOTES
HEAD OF THE CLASS
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.
RPI ON THE RISE
ON THE NCAA / MOUNTAIN WEST SINGLES CHARTS
ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST
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).
CAMPUS WELCOMES NEW UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT
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.
NOW OPEN: MEYERS FAMILY SPORTS MEDICINE CENTER
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