Oct. 9, 2012
By Theresa Kurtz
By Theresa Kurtz
FRESNO, Calif. - Zana Bowens first picked up a volleyball at the age of seven. It was something that she decided to try because her older sister was playing and she wanted to do everything that her sister was doing.
Once she saw her sister play club volleyball, she knew she wanted to play too. She had her parents sign her up for a club volleyball team and she developed a passion for the game, which led her to Fresno state.
What is more unique about Bowens, is that she is the lone freshman joining a Bulldog team that returned all but two student-athletes from the previous year's roster.
"Lauren (Netherby-Sewell) and I had talked about the class being small and that there might be a walk-on," said Bowens. "But when I got here in the summer she told me I was the only one. I had to prepare myself to be able to keep up with everyone else. I was able to adapt more quickly because everyone else was already at that level."
Bowens' recruiting process began during her sophomore year of high school. She received recruiting letters from several different programs in the ACC or Big East. Fresno State wasn't initially on Bowens' radar, but that all changed during the summer before her senior year after she got a call from head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell.
"It was right after JO's (junior Olympics) and Lauren called me. She said `I watched you play and I am really interested in you coming on a visit,' " Bowens explained. "I was hesitant because at that point I was ready to commit elsewhere. But, my dad told me to try and see how I like it and he thought it would be a good fit for me. I went and absolutely loved it. From the coaches to the team, I liked everything that we are about. I went up on a Thursday and I called Lauren on Friday morning and said I'm coming."
The freshman hails from Long Beach, Calif., and graduated from Long Beach Poly, a school that has produced several former Bulldogs including, Isaiah Green (football), Taja Edwards (women's basketball) and current Bulldog Ta Nitra Byrd (women's basketball).
Bowens immediately got in touch with her fellow Jack Rabbits to ask about Fresno State.
"I talked to Isaiah Green and he told me I'd love it out here," recalled Bowens. "He said `It's a welcoming family and Fresno is a great community for student-athletes.' I also talked to Ta Nitra Byrd and she told me to come and thought I'd love it. Everybody that I talked to had nothing but good things to say about Fresno State."
After talking to those who had played for Fresno State, she was excited to get to campus and begin playing. Bowens was ready to help her new team win. She was ready to learn the Bulldog way and contribute on the court.
"Coming in as a freshman, I had my mind set that I wanted to play," Bowens said. "I didn't want to just get settled in and be content with just fitting in. I wanted to standout and make a point that I can be good. I am here to help the team win."
Her transition to college and volleyball wasn't difficult. Bowens fit right in and learned all she could about Bulldog volleyball with the help of a teammate.
"Marissa (Brand) definitely took on the role of teacher and took me under her wing," Bowens added. "She helped me get acclimated to everything, which I really appreciated."
Bowens has played in 55 of the Bulldogs 58 sets so far this season and is averaging 1.7 digs per set from the back line.
"My goal this year is to be a major contributor to the team and I want to be able to help the team win," Bowens said. "Long term goals are probably to win a Mountain West championship or two. Also, another goal is to make it to the tournament and play well."
"Discover Fresno State Athletics!" -- Bulldog volleyball returns to the Save Mart Center on Oct. 11 to face Colorado State at 7 p.m. Tune into the home of Fresno State volleyball, ESPN 790, for game day action.
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