Oct. 16, 2013
Fresno State Volleyball Weekly Release - Season Week 8 / MW Conference Week 4
Live Online Video Stream: http://bit.ly/MWNLive
MW Broadcasters: Stephen Trembley, Bree Cooksey, Donny Barnes
Radio Broadcasts (Thu./Sat.): ESPN 790 AM (Christian Lukens)
Thursday, October 17 - Save Mart Center, Fresno, Calif.
7 p.m. - Fresno State (10-8, 4-2) vs. New Mexico (14-3, 5-2)
Saturday, October 19 - Save Mart Center, Fresno, Calif.
*11 a.m. -Fresno State (10-8, 4-2) vs. Air Force (4-13, 1-4)
SPECIAL HOME MATCH MARKETING / PROMOTIONS
- Thursday (10/17, 7 p.m. - vs. New Mexico): Homecoming Kickoff Night. Homecoming starts early for Fresno State students that arrive early for a HUGE student pizza party before the match and a special presentation from ASI at intermission.
- Saturday (10/19, 11 a.m. - vs. Air Force): Salute to Services Match. Help us honor and thank our military, and all active military and veterans receive * free admission * to the match with valid ID.
Riding a three-match win streak via 3-0 sweeps, the Fresno State volleyball team (10-8, 4-2) remains at home for the second straight week to host New Mexico (14-3, 5-2) and Air Force (4-13, 1-4) this Thursday and Saturday, October 17 and 19. The Lobos sit a half-game ahead of the `Dogs in the MW standings and its RPI rating (48th) is second-best in the MW, while the Falcons split the season series last year with the `Dogs.
SIZING UP THIS WEEK'S FOES
This week, New Mexico leads the MW in lowest opponent hitting percentage (.124 avg.) and digs (15.28 per set), and beat preseason conference favorite San Diego State last weekend at home (3-2) to cap a three-match conference win streak. Lobo junior middle blocker and All-MW returnee Chantale Riddle leads the league in kills (4.02 per set) and points (4.71 p/s), and senior libero Miquella Lovato is the returning MW Libero of the Year. The Falcons picked up their first league victory two weekends ago vs. Wyoming (3-1) - its first decision over the Cowgirls since 2003. Last year's overall win total (9) under fourth-year head coach Matt McShane was the team's best since 2003 (14).
RECENT FRESNO STATE STARTERS (Key 2013 Stats)
# - Name, Pos, Yr, Ht, Hometown, Hitting, K/S, D/S, B/S, SA/S
1 - Korrin Wild, OH, SR, 5-11, Sanger, Calif. - .193, 3.72 k/s, 2.56 d/s, 0.28 b/s, 0.30 sa/s
22 - Marissa Brand, OH, R-SR, 6-1, Cypress, Calif. - .249, 2.67 k/s, 2.43 d/s, 0.40 b/s, 0.08 sa/s
5 - Christina Lee, S, JR, 5-6, San Francisco, Calif. - .258, 6.94 a/s, 2.97 d/s, 0.15 sa/s
21 - Holly Franks, RS, R-SR, 6-2, Tollhouse, Calif. - .188, 2.84 k/s, 2.11 d/s, 0.81 b/s, 0.27 sa/s
16 - Maci Murdock, MB, JR, 6-0, Turlock, Calif. - .380, 1.99 k/s, 0.10 d/s, 0.87 b/s
8 - Katie Pearson, MB, Jr., 6-0, San Jose, Calif. - .414, 0.78 k/s, 0.17 d/s, 0.78 b/s, 0.06 sa/s
23 - Maggie Eppright, L, FR, 5-6, San Luis Obispo, Calif. - 3.30 d/s, 0.19 sa/s
RECENT TEAM NOTES
On Monday this week, junior Maci Murdock (Turlock, Calif.) was awarded her first Mountain West Volleyball Player of the Week honor career-wise (and fourth in the tenure of head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell). The middle blocker did not commit an attack error last weekend, and posted the team's two highest hitting marks of 2013 vs. Nevada (.750) and SJSU (.727) to give her six +.600 totals in 2013.
Team-wise last weekend, the `Dogs hit .376 and .317, respectively, vs. Nevada and San Jose State. Those totals stood as its first- and third-best hitting marks of the year and among six +.300 totals this year (and all within the last 11 matches).
With the introduction of her first 6-2 offense with the `Dogs the last four matches, head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell has to be happy with the improved offensive output.
With a 3-1 overall mark in that span, the team has averaged a .284 hitting mark (182K-57E-425A) in those contests (compared with a .199 mark in the 14 matches prior (740K-342E-1999A)). The team is also averaging 14.00 kills per set in that stretch (182 kills-13 sets) - almost a full kill per set better that its prior season average (12.98, 740 kills; 57 sets). For comparison's sake, Colorado State leads the MW season-wise in both categories (.304; 14.77 k/p/s) this week, and in MW-only play, the Rams are just ahead of the Bulldogs in the same # of sets played (.269 / .260; 14.32 kps / 14.27 kps).
Fresno State's nine aces vs. Nevada was a three set-high and one off it overall high in four sets vs. Wichita State, and it posted eight vs. SJSU. Like-wise, its kills (44/44) and blocks tallies (9/8) vs. Nevada and SJSU were its best among its eight three-set matches in `13.
Thanks to its 17 aces in six sets last weekend, the `Dogs jumped six spots this week in the MW season rankings to second place with a 1.27 season average (just behind Boise State, 1.37). That average was boosted by the team's top three-set totals of 2013 by senior hitters Holly Franks (5 vs. SJSU) and Korrin Wild (4 vs. Nevada). For comparison's sake, Fresno State and Wild topped the conference at the end of last year in the team and individual categories (1.35 / 0.44).
BULLDOGS TO WATCH
Returning All-MW pick and senior outside hitter Korrin Wild (Kingsburg, Calif.) continues to pace the team in kills and points (3.72 / 4.17 per set) and ranks third in the conference in both categories and 71st and 81st nationally. Likewise, she moved into the top 10 in the MW this week in aces (seventh, 0.30 p/s) after she led the MW last year and stood 12th nationally. On the team's all-time lists, she ranks top 10 career-wise in aces per set (third, 0.31), aces (seventh, 121) and digs (fifth, 1,069).
Last weekend's effort vs. Nevada (13 kills, .385) gave her five +.300 totals and 13 double-digit kill totals among her 15 matches in 2013. Three weeks ago, she logged her second +20-kill effort of the year vs. Boise State (20, 15 digs), while her other also came in five sets vs. Santa Clara (21, .278). In September, she picked up all-tournament team honors in the Fresno State Classic after she 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 hit a season high (.391) in the tourney finale vs. returning national runner-up and No. 20 Oregon. The preseason All-Mountain West pick registered a team-season best in digs (21) for non-liberos vs. Belmont, and her 19 kills was two shy of her team season high. In the second match, her 14 kills vs. Bakersfield is the team's three-set season best, and her 13 kills and 13.5 points vs. Oregon came in only two sets of duty. The following week she added Portland Nike Invitational all-tourney honors after her double-double vs. Portland (10 kills, .333, 13 digs). Other double-doubles among her five this year and 33 career-wise came in four sets vs. Utah State (16 kills, 14 digs) and in five sets vs. Cal State Northridge (14 kills, 11 digs).
With starts the last nine matches of the season, former All-Western Athletic Conference honoree and redshirt senior outside hitter Marissa Brand (Cypress, Calif.) has reignited the team's offense and back-row passing. She has led the team in three matches in kills, and twice in hitting, digs and once in points and aces. Last weekend, her .478 hitting mark vs. Nevada was just shy of her career best form 2011 (.500), and extended her streak of +10-kill matches to eight straight after her three-set totals vs. SJSU (13) and Nevada (12) (a stretch that includes four double-doubles). Three weekends ago, she set a career high in blocks vs. Utah State (6) and a season high in digs (19). Two nights later, her team-leading .417 hitting mark vs. Boise State was one of three +.400 totals this year and six +.300 marks. Career-wise, she improved her Fresno State career top-10 rankings last week in attempts (sixth, 3,369) and kills (eighth, 1,182), and is seven shy of the 10th-best mark for matches played (109 / 116).
In her first season for the `Dogs, senior right side hitter Holly Franks (Tollhouse, Calif.) has boosted the offense with team match highs in points in six matches, and likewise in a similar # of matches in kills (5), aces (5) and blocks (2). Three weeks ago, she logged her season high in kills and points vs. Utah State (20/24) - and both are team bests for a non-five-set match in 2013 - and also topped the team in points that same weekend vs. Boise State (22). Her eight blocks vs. Utah State was her season high and one off the team season high, and her three aces tied the team's fourth-best total in 2013. In mid-September, she was tabbed the UC Irvine Tournament MVP after she posted then-season highs in kills (18) and points (21.5) vs. the Anteaters. The weekend before in Portland, her seven aces vs. Wichita State set a new school record, and she posted the team's second-best mark of `13 vs. SJSU (5) in three sets. Among her six double-doubles this season, others came vs. Boise State (18 kills, 14 digs), 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 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. Overall this year, she ranked top 10 this week in the Mountain West in aces (third, 0.34 p/s) and points (eighth, 3.61 p/s), and top-three for the team this year in aces (first, 0.34 p/s), kills (second, 2.83 p/s), points (3.61 p/s) and blocks (third, 0.83 p/s).
Junior middle blocker Maci Murdock (Turlock, Calif.) picked up her first Mountain West Player of the Week honor this week after she logged her first .700 totals of the year vs. Nevada (.750, 6 kills) and SJSU (.727, 8 kills) and her three-set season high in blocks (6) vs. the Spartans. Altogether this year, she has logged four other .600 totals vs. Rice (.667, 10 kills), UNLV (.636, 7 kills), Santa Clara (.600, 10 kills), and CSU Bakersfield (.600, 6 kills) among her 11 +.300 totals this year. She has posted a season-high 11 kills four times this year, include twice three weekends ago vs. Utah State (.333) and Boise State (.429). Last month, she received Fresno State Classic all-tournament honors for her play vs. Belmont (11 kills, 6 blocks, .375), CSUB (.600, 6 kills) and No. 20 Oregon (.429, 8 kills). One of three players to start all 18 matches this year (with Holly Franks and Christina Lee), she has led the team in blocks in a team-best eight matches. She posted her season blocks high (8) in five sets vs. Boise State, and added seven in four sets vs. UC Irvine and Utah State and five sets vs. Rice. This week, she jumped 44 spots nationally in hitting (43rd, .380) and three spots in the conference (fourth), while her hitting total in MW-only matches (.436) leads the league by .039. Team-wise this year, she leads Fresno State in hitting (.380), and stands second for the `Dogs in blocks (0.87 p/s) and fifth in kills (1.99 p/s).
The past five weeks, junior Christina Lee (San Francisco, Calif.) made her first starts at setter since 2011 and has helped the team to an 8-4 mark. In that span, she is averaging 10.13 assists per set (456 assists / 45 sets), and directed the team to all six of its +.300 marks this year vs. Nevada (.376), at UNLV (.356), and vs. SJSU (.317), Boise State (.301), CSUB (.300) and Xavier (.300). A starter in all 18 matches this year, her 57 assists in five sets vs. both Belmont and Boise State rank sixth-best in the MW this year, and her +50 assists vs. the Anteaters (51) and Aggies (50) are 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 second- and fourth-best dig totals of 2013 vs. Santa Clara (27) and Rice (24). Her total vs. Santa Clara (27) is the Mountain West's sixth-best total of the year and one of four team match leaders this year.
A month ago at UC Irvine, sophomore outside hitter Zana Bowens (Long Beach, Calif.) logged a season high in aces (3) and her second- and third-highest totals of the season in kills and points (17 / 20.5). In late August, she 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 kills last year vs. Northern Arizona. A starter in the first 12 matches this year, she enjoyed her first career double-double thanks to her 12 digs vs. Santa Clara. 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 Irvine tourney with 10 kills and a .333 hitting mark in the sweep of Xavier - her first match leader in hitting this year - and she also logged 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), and her three aces vs. UC Irvine is tied for second-best for the `Dogs in 2013. Among the MW match bests of the season, she ranked top 13 in kills (seventh, 21; 13th, 20) and points (seventh, 24).
Senior middle blocker Lauren Albertson (Fresno, Calif.) tied the team's then-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 the first 10 matches this year, she is tied for the team this week in blocks average season-wise (0.87 p/s) with Maci Murdock.
Freshman setter Brooke Legaux (Mission Viejo, Calif.) made her collegiate debut two weekends ago as the team unveiled a new 6-2 offense with junior setter Christina Lee. Playing the last three sets vs. SDSU and all three sets in sweeps of UNLV, SJSU and Nevada, the team has averaged .284 (182K-57E-425A) in those contests (compared with a .199 mark in the 14 matches prior (740K-342E-1999A)). She racked up a season-high 14 assists the last three matches vs. the Rebels, Spartans and Wolf Pack, and her digs high (5) came vs. UNLV. Season-wise in 2013, the team ranks seventh in the MW and 102nd nationally in assists this week (12.29 per set).
Freshman libero Maggie Eppright (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) has smoothly settled into the starting libero role the past 13 matches and is one of the team's top serve-receivers. She racked up a team season high in digs in four sets vs. both Utah State (28) and UC Irvine (27) - the fourth- and sixth-best marks overall in the conference in 2013 and the former is the best in non-five-set matches. She has logged seven other double-digit dig figures vs. Boise State (17, 5s), UNLV (16, 3s), San Diego State (16, 4s), American (16, 5s), Belmont (15, 5s), Wichita State (14, 4s) and Xavier (14, 3s). In her 13 matches as a starter, her digs per set average is 3.89 (49 sets, 191 digs) would rank top-four among MW player season averages. Altogether, she has paced the squad in digs in six of the last nine contests and eight times overall in 2013. She has connected on multiple aces in five matches, including a season high (3) in a sweep vs. CSU Bakersfield - the team's third-best, three-set mark of 2013. Her two aces vs. Xavier was one of her three match highs for the `Dogs.
With starts in five straight matches in September and October, redshirt sophomore middle blocker Molly Pearson (San Jose, Calif.) has enjoyed several career bests the past month. Three weekends ago, she logged a career high and team season high in blocks (9) in four sets vs. Utah State - also the eighth-best total in the league this year. The weekend before in the UC Irvine Tournament, her six blocks against American was one shy of the then-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. Her season high in kills (7) came vs. Belmont, and she hit .700 with no errors on her 10 attempts.
Making her first career starts the last three matches, junior middle blocker Katie Pearson (San Jose, Calif.) logged career highs in sweeps vs. SJSU (5 kills, .500), Nevada (5 blocks) and UNLV (2 digs), and posted six points in all three matches. She also topped .300 vs. the Rebels (.333, 4 kills), and added her first ace vs. the Wolf Pack. She played a season-high four sets two weeks ago at San Diego State, and logged two kills in her three 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 13 of the team's last 15 matches. She connected on two aces vs. NCAA tournament returnees Wichita State and No. 20 Oregon and also posted one in wins vs. Portland, UC Irvine and SJSU. She logged her first kill of the year vs. American, and her digs season high (2) came vs. UP and Boise State.
Senior right side hitter Megan Callahan (Atwater, Calif.) has played three of the last four matches for the `Dogs, and topped .500 against both San Jose State (.500, 2K-0E-4A) and Nevada (.500, 3K-0E-6A). She also logged her first dig of the campaign vs. SDSU and played a season-high three sets vs. the Aztecs.
FRESNO STATE / NEW MEXICO / AIR FORCE SERIES HISTORY
Heading into this weekend, the `Dogs own an 8-9 all-time mark vs. New Mexico and a 5-1 ledger vs. Air Force in the series that started in 1988 and 1996, respectively. The `Dogs won both of last year's matches vs. UNM at home (3-1) and away (3-2) as part of a 5-1 run going back to 1998. The Falcons' only all-time series win came last year in Colorado Springs (3-1), while the `Dogs bounced back with a 3-0 sweep in Fresno last November.
ON THE CHARTS - This Week's Mountain West / NCAA Rankings (per set averages)
Fresno State Team MW / NCAA Rankings
Digs - 7th / 161st, 14.641
Assists - 7th / 102nd, 12.29
Kills - 5th / 107th, 13.17
Opponent Hitting - 7th / -, .202
Hitting - 5th / 120th, .216
Aces - 2nd / 131st, 1.27 -
Blocks - 8th / 154th, 2.077
Fresno State Individual Team MW / NCAA Rankings
Korrin Wild - Kills, 3rd/71st, 3.72 p/s; Points, 3rd/81st, 4.17 p/s; Aces, 7th/-, 0.30 p/s
Maci Murdock - Hitting, 43rd/4th, .380
Holly Franks - Aces, 3rd/115th, 0.34 p/s; Points, 8th/-, 3.61
Christina Lee - Assists, 10th/-, 6.94 p/s
Maggie Eppright - Digs, 10th/-, 3.30 p/s
New Mexico Team MW / NCAA Rankings
Digs 1st / 91st, 15.28
Assists 6th / 100th, 12.33
Kills 3rd / 111th, 13.14
Opponent Hitting 1st / -, .124
Hitting 3rd / 86th, .232
Aces 9th / 300th, 0.91
Blocks 3rd / 17th, 2.78
New Mexico Individual Team MW / NCAA Rankings
Korrin Wild - Chantale Riddle - Points, 1st/28th, 4.71; Kills, 1st/41st, 4.02
Miquella Lovato, Digs, 2nd/44th, 4.83
Hannah Johnson, Assists, 4th/54th, 10.66
Skye Gullatt, Blocks, 4th/56th, 1.23
Lexi Ross, Hitting, 6th/82nd, .352; Blocks, 6th/90th, 1.16
Air Force Team MW / NCAA Rankings
Digs 8th / 209th, 14.01
Assists 10th / 238th, 11.09
Kills 10th / 254th, 11.58
Opponent Hitting 8th / -, .238
Hitting 10th / 257th, .169
Aces 6th / 205th, 1.15
Blocks 11th / 300th, 1.47
Air Force Individual MW / NCAA Rankings
Ayesha Hein -Hitting, -/139th, .327
Hillary Keltner - Assists, 7th/153rd, 9.42
SCOUTING THE LOBOS (14-3, 5-2) - www.GoLobos.com
New Mexico welcomes back six starters from last year's team that went 20-13 and placed seventh in the MW (7-9). This year, UNM scored non-conference wins over UMKC (3-0), UC Riverside (3-0), Idaho State (3-0), Georgia Tech (3-1), Towson (3-1), Abilene Christian (3-0), Northern Arizona (3-0) and New Mexico State (3-2), and in league play vs. Air Force (3-1), Wyoming (3-0), Utah State (3-0), Boise State (3-1) and San Diego State (3-2). Junior opposite side hitter Chantale Riddle is a returning honorable mention All-American and All-MW honoree, and in August was a preseason All-MW pick. Likewise, senior Miquella Lovato was the MW Libero of the Year in 2012 and the league coaches preseason choice in `13. Seventh-year head coach Jeff Nelson sports a 126-71 record at the Lobo helm and a 367-218 overall mark in his 17 years that includes eight seasons at Texas Tech (1995-2002) and four (2003-06) at San Francisco. In his prior seasons in Albuquerque, the Lobos have notched five winning seasons, four 20-win totals and two NCAA Tournament trips.
SCOUTING THE FALCONS (4-13, 1-4) - www.GoFalcons.com
Air Force returns six starters and 13 letterwinners from last year's squad that went 9-21 overall and placed eighth in the MW (3-13). The Falcons' wins this year have come vs. Long Beach State (3-2), Navy (3-2), UC Riverside (3-0) and Wyoming (3-1). Two individuals rank top 200 nationally this week - junior middle blocker Ayesha Hein (hitting, 139th, .327) and junior setter Hillary Keltner (assists, 153rd, 9.42 p/s). Fourth-year head coach Matt McShane has quickly resurrected the Falcons who welcomed a PrepVolleyball Honorable Mention signee class in 2012. In prior stints, he served as an assistant coach at California, Utah and BYU, and the associate head coach at New Mexico.
With 12 of the team's 13 players from California, it's common to spot a large cheering section of family and friends at `Dog matches this year, especially with five players hailing from the surrounding Central Valley.
Senior middle blocker Lauren Albertson attended Clovis West High School in Fresno, then helped Fresno Pacific win an NAIA national title her freshman season in 2009.
Four other current or recent starters are from the area and within a 90-minute drive - senior outside hitter Korrin Wild (Kingsburg, 22 miles), senior right side hitters Holly Franks (Tollhouse, 34 miles) and Megan Callahan (Atwater, 65 miles) and junior middle blocker Maci Murdock (Turlock, 88 miles).
Seven other players are within a five-hour trip to campus (if traffic cooperates) - freshman libero Maggie Eppright (San Luis Obispo, 138 miles), junior Katie Pearson & redshirt sophomore Molly Pearson (San Jose, 152), junior setter Christina Lee (San Francisco, 188), sophomore outside hitter Zana Bowens (Long Beach, 242), senior outside hitter Marissa Brand (Cypress, 243) and freshman setter Brooke Legaux (Mission Viejo, 266).
The team's 13th member - junior outside hitter Jaimee-Lee Morrow - ruins the team average, however, with her home in Mooroolbark, Australia (pron. MERL-bark, and located near Melbourne) approximately 7,968 miles away.
DOUBLE YOUR FUN
Bulldog fans and foes are again seeing double this season with the squad sporting a pair of nearly identical faces in the front row. Identical twins and middle blockers Molly and Katie Pearson matriculated from Presentation High School in San Jose and have boosted the team in 10 and six matches this season, respectively.
A redshirt sophomore and starter in five of the last eight matches, Molly posted a team season high in blocks vs. Utah State (9), and career highs in kills (7) vs. Belmont and hitting vs. Xavier (.857). Katie is a junior and has scored six points in each of her starts the last three matches, and posted career highs in sweeps vs. SJSU (5 kills, .500), Nevada (5 blocks) and UNLV (2 digs).
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
Head Coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell introduced the Fighting Spirit Award to Fresno State in 2008 and continued the tradition she inherited at Hofstra from Hall of Fame coach Fran Kalafer.
Netherby-Sewell presents the award to an individual or the team on a weekly basis for the best display of a fighting spirit through adversity and challenges. At the end of the season, the individual or team who earns the most awards during the season receives the year-end Fighting Spirit Award.
2013 Weekly Winners: 9/2 - Team; 9/9 - Holly Franks, Marissa Brand; 9/16 - Maci Murdock, Korrin Wild, Christina Lee, Molly Pearson; 9/23 - Team; 9/30 - Team, Marissa Brand; 10/7 - Katie Pearson, Korrin Wild; 10/14 - Team.
Head Coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell on this week's winners (the team): "We are hitting a nice stride as a team, and the award is given to the entire group. Whether people started or not this weekend, I felt their engagement, presence and confidence, no matter the challenge on the court. I loved watching the group prepare and play together last weekend."
RPI ON THE RISE
The second NCAA RPI ratings of the season was released this week, and Fresno State ranked fifth in the league (106) behind Colorado State (23), New Mexico (48), San Diego State (82) and Utah State (86). The remaining MW teams' rankings follow: UNLV (113), Boise State (128), Wyoming (161), Air Force (183), Nevada (258) and San José State (274).
This week's RPI rating is just shy of last year's year-end position (90) - the team's best since 2004, and a full current listing is available here ( http://bit.ly/nPekF9 ).
Before the arrival of sixth-year head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell, the `Dogs stood in the lower half of the 332 Division 1 programs for four years. The program's resurgence has featured a three-year streak in the nation's upper half - 2012 (90), 2011 (138) and 2010 (150) - and a complete listing of rankings the last 11 years follows: 2012: 90; 2011: 138; 2010: 150; 2009: 217; 2008: 275; 2007: 261; 2006: 223; 2005: 180; 2004: 93; 2003: 45; 2002: 46
The `Dogs face a challenging regular season slate in 2013 with nine of their 29 regular season matches vs. NCAA Tournament qualifiers from last year's 64-team field. 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 20, 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). Four other non-conference foes sported legitimate postseason hopes based on their preseason conference selections - Oregon (Pac-12, fourth), Cal State Northridge (Big West, third), Xavier (Big East, third) and Santa Clara (WCC, sixth).
Senior right side hitter Holly Franks wasted little time in making her presence known this year after transferring from Cal Poly. The product from nearby Tollhouse, Calif., was named to the Fresno State Invitational the opening week, then capped the non-conference slate as the UC Irvine Tournament MVP.
The first-year Bulldog is one of four players with all-tournament accolades this fall with senior outside hitters Marissa Brand (UC Irvine Tournament) and Korrin Wild (Fresno State Classic, Nike Portland) and junior middle blocker Maci Murdock (Fresno State Classic).
In prior years, Murdock won a pair of honors in 2012 at Colorado and UTEP; Lee was a San Diego All-Tournament selection in `12; and Wild received similar honors at UTEP in `12 and in the Fresno State Classic in `11.
FRESNO STATE TEAM SEASON PREVIEW
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.
All three of the squad's newcomers have played key roles this year - senior right side hitter Holly Franks (Cal Poly) and freshman libero Maggie Eppright and setter Brooke Legaux. Franks (Tollhouse, Calif.) led the Mustangs in kills and points last season (2.94 k/s; 3.22 p/s); Eppright (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) was a Pac-7 and Country Player of the Year and two-time all-league and all-county choice; Legaux (Mission Viejo, Calif.) was an All-CIF South Section First Team choice and league MVP.
HEAD OF THE CLASS
In 2012-13, the `Dogs received the American Volleyball Coaches (AVCA) Academic Team Award for the fourth straight season for their combined +3.40 grade point average for the 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 middle blocker Lauren Albertson is a former two-time conference all-academic choice (2011, `12), and Brand (2009, `10) and Korrin Wild (2010, `11), and Zana Bowens (2011) have received similar honors.
'DOGS PART OF CROWDED RACE FOR MOUNTAIN WEST PRESEASON VOTES
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 a preseason 2013 All-Mountain West choice in August, and one of three hitters chosen by league head coaches to the seven-person team. The Kingsburg, 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.
ON THE NCAA / MOUNTAIN WEST SINGLES CHARTS
Last year, senior outside hitter Korrin Wild was the highest Bulldog individual on the year-end 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).
ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN WEST
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).
CAMPUS WELCOMES NEW UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT
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.
NOW OPEN: MEYERS FAMILY SPORTS MEDICINE CENTER
The recent completion 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.
BULLDOG FOUNDATION SUPPORTS STUDENT-ATHLETE SCHOLARSHIPS
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.
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