'Dogs Head to Rockies to Face CSU & WYO
Senior right side hitter Megan Callahan logged season highs in kills, blocks and hitting in the win over Air Force last weekend.
Senior right side hitter Megan Callahan logged season highs in kills, blocks and hitting in the win over Air Force last weekend.

Oct. 23, 2013

Fresno State VB Weekly ReleaseGet Acrobat Reader

Bulldog Volleyball Weekly Release - Season Week 9 / MW Week 5
Live Online Video Stream: http://bit.ly/fsmwn
Opponent Websites: www.CSUrams.com / www.GoWyo.com

Thursday, October 24 - Moby Arena, Fort Collins, Colo.
6 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. MT - Fresno State (12-8, 6-2) vs. Colorado State (17-0, 8-0) - Live Stats

Saturday, October 26 - UniWyo Sports Complex, Laramie, Wyo.
1 p.m. PT / 2 p.m. MT - Fresno State (12-8, 6-2) vs. Wyoming (1-93, 3-5) - Live Stats

Riding a five-match win streak into a second-place tie in the MW, the Fresno State volleyball team (12-8, 6-2) makes the first of two straight road trips this week. The `Dogs first play unbeaten MW leader Colorado State (17-0, 8-0) then head to Wyoming (13-9, 3-5) this Thursday and Saturday, October 24 and 26. The Rams rank No. 12 nationally and sit two matches ahead of the `Dogs in the MW standings, and both teams split the season series (1-1) last year with the `Dogs.

This week, No. 12 Colorado State is the higher-ranked of the two remaining undefeated top-25 teams, but were pushed to five sets in recent weeks by UNLV and New Mexico - both teams that Fresno State beat earlier in October. In MW play, Fresno State & CSU rank 1-2 in hitting (.268-.259) and kills (14.39-14.19 p/s), while CSU leads the blocks (3.15 p/s) column. The Rams are directed by All-MW setter Deedra Foss, while Wyoming features the nation's leading blocker - Erin Kirby (1.81 per set) - who was an All-MW pick with libero Becky Stewart in 2012.

# - Name, Pos, Yr, Ht, Hometown, Hitting, K/S, D/S, B/S, SA/S
1 - Korrin Wild, OH, Sr,, 5-11, Sanger, Calif. - .206, 3.76 k/s, 2.64 d/s, 0.32 b/s, 0.32 sa/s
22 - Marissa Brand, OH, R-Sr., 6-1, Cypress, Calif. - .257, 2.88 k/s, 2.43 d/s, 0.38 b/s, 0.07 sa/s
5 - Christina Lee, S, Jr., 5-6, San Francisco, Calif. - .293 , 7.23 a/s, 2.97 d/s, 0.16 sa/s
21 - Holly Franks, RS, R-Sr., 6-2, Tollhouse, Calif. - .184, 2.79 k/s, 2.08 d/s, 0.80 b/s, 0.35 sa/s
16 - Maci Murdock, MB, Jr., 6-0, Turlock, Calif. - .398, 2.03 k/s, 0.15 d/s, 0.91 b/s, 0.00 sa/s
8 - Katie Pearson, MB, Jr., 6-0, San Jose, Calif. - .357, 0.73 k/s, 0.31 d/s, 0.73 b/s, 0.19 sa/s
23 - Maggie Eppright, L, Fr., 5-6, San Luis Obispo, Calif. - 3.34 d/s, 0.16 sa/s

In its five-set win last weekend, the `Dogs came back to win from a 2-1 deficit for the third time this year. Fresno State's 70 kills and 14 blocks were its third-highest totals of the year and two/four off its respective season highs (72/18). Against Air Force its .325 hitting total was its third-best of the year and one of seven +.300 totals on the season (and all in the last 13 matches), while its 62 kills was one off its non-five set season best (63).

Junior middle blocker Maci Murdock has not logged had an error the last five matches and has a streak of 42 error-less attempts and +.400 totals vs. SJSU (.727), Nevada (.750), UNLV (.636), UNM (.632) and Air Force (.429). Last week, she received her first MW Player of the Week honor career-wise (and fourth in the tenure of head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell).

Last weekend, senior outside hitter Marissa Brand's 20 kills vs. the Falcons was a team season best for non-five set matches and one off the team season high. Another senior all-league veteran and outside hitter, Korrin Wild, added 20 kills vs. UNM.

With the introduction of her first 6-2 offense with the `Dogs the last six matches, head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell has to be happy with the improved offensive output.

With a 5-1 overall mark in that span, the team has averaged a .305 hitting mark (314K-85E-750A) in those contests (compared with a .199 mark in the 14 matches prior (740K-342E-1999A)). The team is also averaging 14.27 kills per set in that stretch (314 kills; 22 sets) - more than 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 (.293; 14.65 k/p/s) this week, and in MW-only play, the Bulldogs and Rams rank 1-2 in hitting (.268 / .259) and kills (14.39 kps / 14.19 kps).

The past two weeks, Fresno State's nine aces in three sets vs. Nevada and four sets vs. Nevada was one off it overall high (10) in four sets vs. Wichita State, while 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 29 aces in 15 sets the last two weekends, the `Dogs jumped from eighth to second in the MW season rankings 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), and a career high by Katie Pearson vs. Air Force (4). Season-wise, Franks and Wild lead the conference this season (0.35 & 0.32 p/s) and sport the same rankings and even higher averages in MW play (0.44 / 0.39). 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).

• Returning All-MW pick and senior outside hitter Korrin Wild (Kingsburg, Calif.) continues to pace the team in kills and points (3.76 / 4.24 per set) and ranks second in the conference in both categories and 62nd and 65th nationally. Likewise, she jumped five spots in the MW rankings this week in aces (second, 0.32 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, 0.32), aces (seventh, 125) and digs (fifth, 1,097).

Last weekend's efforts vs. New Mexico (20 kills, .273, 14 digs) and Air Force (16 kills, .316, 14 digs) gave her six +.300 totals and 15 double-digit kill totals among her 17 matches in 2013. A month ago, she logged her another of her three +20-kill efforts of the year vs. Boise State (20, 15 digs), while the other also came in five sets vs. Santa Clara (21, .278). In early 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 seven this year and 35 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 11 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. This week she made her season debut on the MW kill rankings (10th, 2.88 p/s), and she stands second in MW-only matches (3.97) just behind UNM's Chantale Riddle (4.00 p/s). She has led the team in kills in four matches, and twice in hitting, points and digs and once in aces. Last weekend, her efforts vs. Air Force (20 kills, .353, 14 digs) and New Mexico (19, .226, 8 digs) extended her streak of +10-kill matches to 10 straight (and includes five double-doubles). The weekend before her .478 hitting mark vs. Nevada was just shy of her career best from 2011 (.500). In late September, 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 seven +.300 marks. Career-wise, she improved her Fresno State career top-10 rankings last week in attempts (fourth, 3,473) and kills (eighth, 1,157), and is five shy of the 10th-best mark for matches played (111 / 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 aces (6), kills (5) and blocks (2). Overall this week, the Fresno-area native led the Mountain West in aces (0.35 p/s) and ranked 89th nationally. She also ranked seventh in the MW this week in points (seventh, 3.55 p/s), and top-three for the team this year in aces (first, 0.35 p/s), points (second, 3.55 p/s), kills (third, 2.79 p/s) and blocks (third, 0.80 p/s). In late September, 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 helped her earn Portland Nike Invitational all-tourney honors. She posted the team's second-best aces mark of `13 vs. SJSU (5) in three sets two weeks ago. Among her seven double-doubles this season, others came vs. New Mexico (11 kills, 10 digs), 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. • The MW's hottest hitter the last three weeks, junior middle blocker Maci Murdock (Turlock, Calif.) has not logged an error the last five matches and 60 attempts. The past two weeks, she has jumped 58 spots nationally in hitting (29th, .398) and five spots in the conference (second), while her hitting total in MW-only matches (.463) leads the league by .066. Team-wise this year, she leads Fresno State in hitting (.398) and blocks (0.91 p/s), and stands fourth for the `Dogs in kills (2.03 p/s). Last weekend she posted a season-high 12 kills vs. New Mexico (.632, 6 blocks), and just missed her eighth double-digit kill total of the season vs. Air Force (9, .429). Two weeks ago, she picked up her first Mountain West Player of the Week honor 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 posted seven +.600 totals with others vs. Rice (.667, 10 kills), UNLV (.636, 7 kills), Santa Clara (.600, 10 kills), and CSU Bakersfield (.600, 6 kills) among her 13 +.300 totals this year. She has posted 11 kills four times this year, including twice in late September 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 two players to start all 20 matches this year (with Christina Lee), she has led the team in blocks in a team-best 10 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.

• 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 10-4 mark. In that span, she is averaging 10.13 assists per set (541 assists / 54 sets), and directed the team to all seven of its +.300 marks this year vs. Nevada (.376), UNLV (.356), Air Force (.325), SJSU (.317), Boise State (.301), CSUB (.300) and Xavier (.300). A starter in all 20 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.

• In mid-September 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 (and 13 overall), she enjoyed her first career double-double thanks to her 12 digs vs. Santa Clara opening 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 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 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 CS Northridge. A starter the first 10 matches this year, she ranks second on the team this week in blocks average season-wise (0.87 p/s) just behind Maci Murdock (0.91).

• Freshman setter Brooke Legaux (Mission Viejo, Calif.) made her collegiate debut three weekends ago as the team unveiled a new 6-2 offense with junior setter Christina Lee. She racked up a season-high 14 assists in four straight matches vs. the Rebels, Spartans, Wolf Pack and Lobos, and her digs high (5) came vs. UNLV. In MW-only play, the duo have the `Dogs atop the MW rankings for assists (13.29 per set).

• Freshman libero Maggie Eppright (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) has smoothly settled into the starting libero role the past 14 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 nine other double-digit dig figures vs. New Mexico (19, 5 sets), Boise State (17, 5s), UNLV (16, 3s), San Diego State (16, 4s), American (16, 5s), Belmont (15, 5s), Air Fore (14, 4s), 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) and 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 been rewarded with several career bests. In late September, 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 five 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 in four sets vs. New Mexico (5 blocks) and Air Force (5 kills, 4 aces, 9 points). Her four aces vs. the Falcons is the team's third-best mark of the year, and she is one of four players with multiple matches with +5 blocks. She has topped .300 in three matches in which she's had at least +8 attempts - Air Force (5 kills, .500), San Jose State (.500, 5 kills), UNLV (.333, 4 kills). She has led the team in blocks twice in sweeps of UNLV and Nevada (4/5) and in aces once vs. Air Force (4).

• Junior outside hitter Jaimee-Lee Morrow (Mooroolbark, Australia) has been one of the team's most called upon serving specialists and has appeared in 14 of the team's last 16 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 five of the last six matches for the `Dogs, and topped .500 against both San Jose State (.500, 2K-0E-4A) and Nevada (.500, 3K-0E-6A). In her fourth straight match with a kill, she posted a season-high five kills and two blocks and hit .273 vs. Air Force last weekend.

Heading into this weekend, the `Dogs own an 8-6 all-time mark vs. Colorado State and a 9-11 ledger vs. Wyoming in the series that started in 1983 and 1979, respectively. The `Dogs split last year's series with the Rams (3-2 win in Fresno; 3-1 loss in Fort Collins) and the Cowgirls (3-2 win in Fresno; 3-0 loss in Laramie). Head Coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell and the `Dogs also topped Wyoming in 2009 (3-1) and hadn't faced CSU since 1997.

Fresno State Mountain West / NCAA Rankings (per set averages)
Aces 2nd/126th, 1.28
Hitting 4th/93rd, .224
Kills 3rd/85th, 13.34
Assists 5th/95th, 12.41
Digs 6th/153rd, 14.76
Opponent Hitting 6th/-, .206
Blocks 8th/148th, 2.08

Fresno State Individuals
Korrin Wild - Kills, 2nd/62nd, 3.76 p/s; Points, 2nd/65th, 4.24 p/s; Aces, 2nd/166th, 0.32 p/s
Maci Murdock - Hitting, 29th/2nd, .398
Holly Franks - Aces, 1st/89th, 0.35 p/s; Points, 7th/-, 3.55
Christina Lee - Assists, 10th/-, 6.94 p/s
Maggie Eppright - Digs, 10th/-, 3.34 p/s
Marissa Brand - Kills, 10th/-, 2.88 p/s

Colorado State Mountain West / NCAA Rankings (per set averages)
Aces 4th/172nd, 1.21
Hitting 1st/7th, .293
Kills 1st/8th, 14.65
Assists 1st/17th, 13.34
Digs 8th/201st, 14.10
Opponent Hitting 2nd/-, .157
Blocks 1st/7th, 2.90

Colorado State Individuals
Deedra Foss - Assists, 1st/7th, 11.79
Samantha Peters - Blocks, 2nd/13th, 1.41; Hitting, 3rd/30th, .397
Kelsey Snider - Blocks - 9th/121st, 1.11; Hitting, -/123rd, .333
Jaime Colaizzi - Digs, 4th/-, 3.92 p/s
Kaitlin Bestgen - Aces, 6th/-, 0.31 p/s
Marlee Reynolds - Kills, 8th/-, 3.06
Adrianna Culbert - Kills, 9th/-, 2.92; Aces, 8th/-, 0.27; Points, 9th/-, 3.48

Wyoming Mountain West / NCAA Rankings (per set averages)
Aces 8th/236th, 1.10
Hitting 7th/139th, .209
Kills 8th/136th, 12.86
Assists 8th/134th, 12.02
Digs 3rd/101st, 15.33
Opponent Hitting 4th/-, .183
Blocks 2nd/9th, 2.86

Wyoming Individuals
Erin Kirby - Blocks, 1st, 1.81 p/s; Hitting, 79th, .351
Becky Stewart - Hitting, 79th, .351
Reese Plante - Hitting, 117th, .336
Courtney Chacon - Assists, 170th, 9.05 p/s

SCOUTING THE RAMS (17-0, 8-0) - www.CSUrams.com
Colorado State returns three starters but also graduated three All-MW picks from last year's team that went 21-8 and were MW co-champions (13-3). This year, CSU scored non-conference home wins over NCAA returnees Texas A&M (3-0) and Northern Colorado (3-0), and in its 17-match unbeaten streak has been pushed to five sets only twice by MW foes New Mexico and UNLV on the road. Junior setter Deedra Foss was a 2012 All-MW pick and preseason choice in 2013. She ranks seventh nationally in assists this week (11.79 per set average) and two others rank top 125 - senior middle blocker Samantha Peters (blocks, 13th, 1.41 p/s; hitting, 30th, .397) and junior middle blocker Kelsey Snider (blocks, 121st, 1.11 p/s; hitting, 123rd, .333). Head Coach Tom Hilbert has directed the Rams to five Regional bids among their 16 NCAA trips, and is the winningest coach in any sport in CSU history. The Rams have won the last four MW regular season titles among their 10 the past 14 years (along with five of nine conference tourney titles). Including his prior stint as the head coach at Idaho (1989-96), he has led teams to 21 straight 20-win seasons with the first five with the Vandals.

SCOUTING THE COWGIRLS (13-9, 3-5) - www.GoWyo.com
Wyoming returns five starters and eight letterwinners from last year's team that went 21-11 overall and placed fifth in the MW (8-8). The Cowgirls' wins in MW play this year have come vs. Nevada (3-0), Boise State (3-0) and MW preseason favorite SDSU (3-2) on the road last weekend, while it also edged Colorado (3-2) in the non-conference slate at home. Two returnees were All-MW picks last year - senior libero Becky Stewart and junior middle blocker Erin Kirby. This week, Kirby leads the nation in blocks (1.81 per set average) and stands 79th in hitting (.351). Three other players also rank top 200 - Stewart (digs, 21st, 5.19), senior middle blocker Reese Plante (hitting, 117th, .336) and freshman setter Courtney Chacon (assists, 170th, 9.05). First-year head coach Chad Callihan spent the past five seasons at Georgia Southern. He posted three 20-win seasons in his five years there and logged similar +20 win totals in three of his four years at Appalachian State (2003-06) and one of his two years at Radford (2001-02).


Hitting - Maci Murdock, 1st, .337 (2nd is .317)
Aces Per Set - Korrin Wild, 3rd, 0.32 (2nd is 0.33; 1st is 0.44)
Digs - Korrin Wild, 5th, 1,097 (4th is 1,327; 3rd is 1,450)
Aces - Korrin Wild, 7th, 125 (6th is 127; 5th is 131)
Kills - Marissa Brand, 8th, 1,157 (7th is 1,194; 6th is 1,213)

Hitting - Maci Murdock, 6th, .332, 2012
Aces Per Set - Korrin Wild, 6th, 0.44, 2012
Aces - Korrin Wild, 7th, 53, 2012.
Block Assists - Maci Murdock, 10th, 102, 2012

Aces - Holly Franks, 1st, 7, vs. Wichita St., 9/8/13

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.

Bulldog fans and foes are again seeing double this season with the squad sporting a pair of strikingly similar 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 10 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, a junior, has posted career highs five starts the last three weeks vs. Air Force (.500, 5 kills, 4 aces, 9 points, 5 digs), New Mexico (5 blocks), SJSU (5 kills, .500) and Nevada (5 blocks).

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.

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. Past year-end recipients include Allanah Munson and Baylee Platt (2008), the entire team (2009), Kelly Mason (2010) and Korrin Wild (2012), and this year's honorees follow: • 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; 10/21 - Team.

Head Coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell on this week's winners (the team): "We played well and struggled together last weekend. I'm happy we earned two more wins, and like how we're playing together right now."

The fourth NCAA RPI ratings of the season was released this week, and Fresno State jumped 17 spots this week and ranked fourth in the league (89). The remaining MW teams' rankings follow: Colorado State (21), New Mexico (60), Utah State (82) San Diego State (90), UNLV (104), Boise State (123), Wyoming (159), Air Force (210), Nevada (260) and San José State (270).

This week's RPI rating is just ahead 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 15, 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 predictions - 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 and Portland Nike Invitational all-tournament teams the opening two weeks, then was honored 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, Portland Nike) 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.

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 three 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 County 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.

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 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.

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, while 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.

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).

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).

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 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.

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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