Nov. 6, 2013
Fresno State VB Weekly Release: Season Week 11 / Mountain West Conference Week 7
Live Online Video Stream: http://bit.ly/MWNLive
MWN Announcers: Stephen Trembley, Bree Cooksey
ESPN 790 AM Radio Announcer (Thurs., 11/7): Christian Lukens
Opponent Websites: www.UNLVrebels.com / www.GoAztecs.com
Thursday, Nov. 7 - Fresno, Calif.
7 p.m. - Fresno State (15-9, 9-3 (2nd)) vs. UNLV (13-9, 8-4 (3rd))
Saturday, *Nov. 9 - Fresno, Calif.
*Noon - Fresno State (15-9, 9-3 (2nd)) vs. San Diego State (12-10, 7-5 (6th))
*SATURDAY SCHEDULING CHANGE
Saturday's match vs. SDSU is now scheduled for NOON - an hour earlier than originally scheduled.
THIS WEEKEND'S MARKETING / TICKET PROMOTIONS
Thursday (11/7, 7 p.m. - vs. UNLV): GREEK NIGHT. The first 150 Fresno State fraternity/sorority members that come to the marketing table get a FREE tank top, and the Greek House with the best attendance will win a $250 Visa gift card! ALL STUDENTS (inlcuding non-Greeks) should arrive early for a student-only, FREE PIZZA PARTY starting at 6 p.m.
Saturday (11/9, Noon - vs. San Diego State): WHITE OUT DAY. All Bulldog fans are encouraged to wear WHITE, and the first 200 fans will get a FREE `Our State' shirt!
Sitting alone in second place in the Mountain West, the Fresno State volleyball team (15-9, 9-3) opens the final month of the season at home against UNLV (13-9, 8-4) and preseason conference favorite San Diego State (12-10, 7-5), The `Dogs first host UNLV Thursday night at 7 p.m., then welcome SDSU on Saturday at noon. Fresno State's win at UNLV a month ago started an 8-1 run the last five weeks with its only loss in that stretch at unbeaten MW leader and No. 10 Colorado State two weekends ago.
SIZING UP THIS WEEK'S FOES
Returning MW co-champion San Diego State and UNLV were picked first and third in the preseason coaches poll after the same exact MW season-ending placings in `12. When the three teams met five weeks ago, SDSU edged Fresno State, 3-1, and the `Dogs handed then-MW leader UNLV its only MW loss via a sweep this year. In MW play, Fresno State, SDSU and UNLV rank 1-2-5 this week in kills per set (14.13 / 14.02 / 13.40).
LAST TIME AT UNLV / SAN DIEGO STATE (10/3-5/13)
Last month on the road, Fresno State unveiled its 6-2 offense for the first time mid-match at the Aztecs, then hit .356 at the Rebels - its second-best mark of the campaign and one of six +.300 Bulldog totals the last nine matches. On defense, the `Dogs held the Rebels to a .083 hitting mark - the third-lowest mark by a FS opponent this year. Two nights before, Fresno State nearly pushed SDSU to five sets before the Aztecs overcame a 20-16, fourth-set deficit to win, 25-21, in the finale of the 3-1 decision.
At SDSU, Korrin Wild led the team in kills (17), hitting (.306), points (18) and aces (1), and Marissa Brand posted similar stats (16 kills, .262, 1 ace, 17.5 points). At UNLV, Brand held top honors in kills (14), and Maci Murdock topped columns for hitting (.636) and blocks (4).
LAST WEEKEND'S RECAP
With its wins at Nevada and San Jose State last weekend, the `Dogs broke a four-way tie for second place in the MW and raised its series win streaks vs. the Wolf Pack and Spartans to six and eight straight matches respectively. Staking its fifth straight sweep of Nevada, Fresno State's .302 hitting mark was its fifth-best of the year and its ninth +.300 total on the season (and all in the last 17 matches). Its 11 aces was an overall team season best by one after it featured three players with three aces in the same match for the first time (Zana Bowens, Maggie Eppright and Korrin Wild) and Bowens' and Eppright's totals tied career highs.
Against SJSU, the `Dogs fell behind 0-2 after it gave up 10 blocks and four aces to the Spartans the first two sets (while committing nine service errors). After the intermission, the team limited SJSU to three blocks the rest of the way and dialed up seven aces and only error the last three sets for its second 0-2 comeback win of the year.
RECENT FRESNO STATE STARTERS (Key 2013 Stats)
# - Name, Pos, Yr, Ht, Hometown - Hitting, K/S, SA/S, D/S, B/S
1 - Korrin Wild, OH, Sr, , 5-11, Sanger, Calif. - .207, 3.76 k/s, 0.34 sa/s, 2.64 d/s, 0.31 b/s
22 - Marissa Brand, OH, R-Sr., 6-1, Cypress, Calif. - .261, 3.06 k/s, 0.10 sa/s, 2.35 d/s, 0.34 b/s
5 - Christina Lee, S, Jr., 5-6, San Francisco, Calif. - .222, 7.54a/s, 0.14 sa/s, 2.84 d/s
21 - Holly Franks, RS, R-Sr., 6-2, Tollhouse, Calif. - .183, 2.71 k/s, 0.31 sa/s, 1.98 d/s, 0.84 b/s
16 - Maci Murdock, MB, Jr., 6-0, Turlock, Calif. - .391, 2.02 k/s, 0.00 sa/s, 0.16 d/s, 0.87 b/s
8 - Katie Pearson, MB, Jr., 6-0, San Jose, Calif. - .304, 0.66 k/s, 0.34 sa/s, 0.31 d/s, 0.69 b/s
23 - Maggie Eppright, L, Fr., 5-6, San Luis Obispo, Calif. - 0.20 sa/s, 3.32 d/s
SURGING BEHIND THE 6-2
With the introduction of her first 6-2 offense with the `Dogs the last 10 matches, head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell has to be happy with the improved offensive output. With an 8-2 overall mark in that span, the team has averaged a .289 hitting mark (504K-167E-1163A) in those contests (compared with a .199 mark in the 14 matches prior (740K-342E-1999A)). The team is also averaging 14.00 kills (504 kills; 36 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 (.296; 14.42 k/p/s) this week, and in MW-only play, the Bulldogs rank first in kills & second hitting (14.13 / .258), and the Rams are first in hitting (/274) and third in kills (13.96).
SERVING UP GREATNESS
Thanks to its 56 aces in 29 sets the last month, the `Dogs have gone from eighth to first in the MW season service ace rankings with a 1.38 season average (and 0.10 better than second-place Boise State (1.28)). That average was boosted by the team's top three-set totals of 2013 by senior hitters Holly Franks (5 vs. SJSU), Korrin Wild (4 vs. Nevada, 3 at Nevada), junior middle blocker Katie Pearson (a career high 4 vs. Air Force, 3 at Wyoming), sophomore outside hitter Zana Bowens (3 at Nevada) and freshman libero Maggie Eppright (3 at Nevada). Season-wise, the trio of Wild, Pearson and Franks rank 1-2-3 in the conference in MW-only play (0.40 / 0.39 / 0.34), and Wild and Franks stand first and second for all matches combined (0.34 & 0.31 p/s). 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 p/s).
BULLDOG PLAYER NOTES
One of the MW's most dynamic players, senior outside hitter Korrin Wild (Kingsburg, Calif.) continues to pace the team in kills and points (3.76 / 4.29 per set) and ranks second in the conference and 59th and 61st nationally in the categories. Likewise, the returning All-MW pick leads the MW rankings this week in aces (0.34 p/s) after she topped the MW last year and stood 12th nationally. In MW-only matches, she leads the league this week in aces (0.40 p/s), and also stands second in points (4.44 p/s) and third in kills (3.82 p/s). defensively, she ranks second on the team in digs (2.64), and is one of its most called-upon in serve receive. On the team's all-time lists, her place among the team's greatest players is confirmed by her 10 status career-wise in aces per set (third, 0.32 p/s), digs (fifth, 1,134) and aces (fifth, 131).
On the season she has six +.300 totals and 18 double-digit kill totals among her 21 matches. Her team-leading honors two weeks ago in kills at Wyoming (15) and No. 12 CSU (14) are the team's three-set season bests and gave her the team's top honors in kills and points 12 times in 2013. Likewise, she has led the squad in aces a team-best eight times, and in similar #s of matches in digs (5) and hitting (3). She has logged three 20-kill efforts this year in five-setters at home vs. New Mexico (20, .273, 14 digs), Boise State (20, 15 digs) and Santa Clara (21, .278). In early September, she picked up all-tournament team honors in the Fresno State Classic after she led the Bulldogs in kills and points in all three matches. She hit a season high (.391, 13 kills in her two sets) in the tourney finale vs. returning national runner-up and No. 20 Oregon. The night before, the preseason All-MW 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. 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 eight this year and 36 career-wise came in four sets vs. Utah State (16 kills, 14 digs) and Air Force (16 kills, 14 digs), and in five sets vs. CS Northridge (14 kills, 11 digs) and San Jose State (15 kills, 19 digs).
With starts the last 15 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 digging. This week she climbed a spot in the MW kill rankings (ninth, 3.06 p/s), and stands second in MW-only matches (3.96 p/s), 06 behind leader Chantale Riddle of UNM (4.02), and just ahead of the teammate Korrin Wild (third, 3.82 p/s). In 2013, Brand has led the team in kills in six matches; four times in points; three times in hitting; and twice in aces and digs. She has three, 20-kill matches vs. San Jose State (22, .255, 8 digs), American (21, .288, 11 digs) and Air Force (20, .353, 14 digs) and another near effort vs. New Mexico (19, .226, 8 digs) among her 13 double-digit kill efforts the last 14 matches (including six double-doubles). In early October, her season-best .478 hitting mark vs. Nevada is one of three +.400 totals with her total at UNLV (.444, 14 kills) and vs. Boise State (.471, 17 kills), and nine +.300 totals. In late September, she set a career high in blocks vs. Utah State (6) and a season high in digs (19). Career-wise, she improved her Bulldog career top-10 rankings last week in attempts (third, 3,606) and kills (seventh, 1,212), and is one off the 10th-best mark for matches played (115 / 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 blocks (7), aces (6), kills (5), hitting (4). Overall this week, the Fresno-area native ranked second in the Mountain West in aces (0.31 p/s) and 164th nationally. She also ranked ninth in the MW in points (seventh, 3.44 p/s), and top-three for the team this year in aces (second, 0.31 p/s), points (second, 3.44 p/s), blocks (second, 0.81 p/s) and kills (third, 2.71 p/s). In late September, she logged her season high in kills and points vs. Utah State (20/24) - both 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, 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 three weeks ago. Among her seven double-doubles this year, 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 opening weekend after she hit a season high vs. CS Northridge (.400) - one of three +.300 totals on the year, including a season-high .455 at Wyoming two weeks ago.
The MW's hottest hitter the past five weeks, junior middle blocker Maci Murdock (Turlock, Calif.) had a five-match, 60-attempt error-less string end two weeks ago. This week, she ranked 34th nationally and third in the MW in hitting (.391), and her hitting average in MW-only matches (.431) leads the league by .033. Team-wise this year, she leads Fresno State in hitting (.391) and blocks (0.84 p/s), and stands fourth for the `Dogs in kills (2.02 p/s). Twice in the last three weeks she posted a season-high 12 kills vs. San Jose State (.267, 4 blocks) and New Mexico (.632, 6 blocks), and just missed her ninth double-digit kill total of the season vs. Air Force (9, .429). A month ago, she picked up her first MW 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 eight +.600 totals with others at Nevada (.692, 10 kills), vs. Rice (.667, 10 kills), UNLV (.636, 7 kills), Santa Clara (.600, 10 kills), and CSU Bakersfield (.600, 6 kills) among her 15 +.300 marks. She has also posted 11 kills four times this year, including twice in late September vs. Utah State (.333) and Boise State (.429). In early September, she received Fresno State Classic all-tourney 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 24 matches this year (with Christina Lee), she has led the team in blocks in a team-best 11 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. All-time for the `Dogs, she leads the career hitting list (.338) and ranks 10th in blocks assists (235), and is top 10 season-wise in hitting (sixth, .335, 2012) and block assists (10th, 102, 2012).
The past seven weeks, junior Christina Lee (San Francisco, Calif.) made her first starts at setter since 2011 and has helped the team to a 13-5 mark. In that span, she is averaging 9.83 assists per set (669 assists / 68 sets), and directed the team to all nine of its +.300 marks this year vs. Nevada (.376, .302), UNLV (.356), Air Force (.325), SJSU (.317), Boise State (.301), Wyoming (.300), CSUB (.300) and Xavier (.300). A starter in all 24 matches this year, her 57 assists in five sets vs. both Belmont and Boise State rank seventh 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. Her 36 and 31 assists two weekends ago vs. Wyoming and No. 12 CSU were the Bulldogs' three-set season bests even though she split time setting in the team's 6-2 offense. 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 eighth-best mark of the year and one of five team match leaders in 2013.
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 her career 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; her five blocks in three sets vs. CSUB was a career high by one over her tally against CSN (4); and her three aces vs. UC Irvine is tied for fifth-best for the `Dogs in 2013. Among MW match bests of the season, she ranked eighth in kills (21) and points (24).
Senior middle blocker Lauren Albertson (Fresno, Calif.) was one off her career high for blocks vs. Santa Clara (7) and added six vs. CS Northridge the opening weekend of the season. The three-year starter racked up 11 kills vs. Rice and hit .350, and added +6 kills vs. SCU (8), CS Northridge (7) and at Nevada (6). A starter the first 10 matches this year and twice again last week, she ranks third on the team this week in blocks average season-wise (0.73 p/s) just behind Maci Murdock (0.84 p/s) and Holly Franks (0.81 p/s).
Freshman setter Brooke Legaux (Mission Viejo, Calif.) made her collegiate debut in early October as the team unveiled a 6-2 offense with junior setter Christina Lee. Legaux racked up +10 assists in five matches, including a season-high 18 assists vs. San Jose State and 14 in four straight matches vs. the Rebels, Spartans, Wolf Pack and Lobos. In MW-only play, the duo have the `Dogs atop the league team rankings for kills (14.13 per set) and second in hitting (.258) and assists (13.13 p/s).
Freshman libero Maggie Eppright (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) has smoothly settled into the starting libero role the past 19 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 sixth- and eighth-best marks overall in the conference in 2013 and the former is the second-best in non-five-set matches. She has logged 10 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), SJSU (16, 5s), Belmont (15, 5s), Air Fore (14, 4s), Wichita State (14, 4s), Xavier (14, 3s) and Wyoming (13, 3s). She ranks sixth in the MW in digs in conference play (3.80 p/s) and tops among freshmen. Altogether, she has paced the squad in digs in nine of the last 15 contests and 11 times overall in 2013. She has connected on multiple aces in five matches, including a season high (3) in a sweep vs. CSU Bakersfield and at Nevada - the team's third-best, three-set mark of 2013 and among five match highs for the `Dogs. Her 289 digs this season is approaching the fifth-best mark in FS history among freshmen (310).
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. 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 in seven of the last nine matches, junior middle blocker Katie Pearson (San Jose, Calif.) logged career highs in sweeps vs. SJSU (5 kills, .500), Nevada (5 blocks) and in four sets vs. New Mexico (5 blocks) and Air Force (5 kills, 4 aces, 5 digs, 9 points). She has led the team in aces in four matches, and her four aces vs. Air Force and three at Wyoming and SJSU are the team's third- and fifth-best marks of the year. 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) and UNLV (.333, 4 kills). On defense, she is one of four Bulldogs with multiple matches with +5 blocks, and paced the team in blocks twice in sweeps of UNLV and Nevada (4/5) and in aces vs. Air Force (4), Wyoming (3), SJSU (3) and CSU (1). With a 0.39 aces per set average in MW play, she stands second in the MW this week just behind teammate Korrin Wild (0.40 p/s).
Junior outside hitter Jaimee-Lee Morrow (Mooroolbark, Australia) has been one of the team's most called upon serving specialists and has appeared in 16 of the team's last 19 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 a season-high two kills at Nevada on Halloween, and her digs season high (2) came vs. UP and Boise State.
Senior right side hitter Megan Callahan (Atwater, Calif.) has played seven of the last 10 matches for the `Dogs, and hit .500 against both San Jose State (2K-0E-4A) and Nevada (3K-0E-6A). Among her five straight matches with a kill, she posted a season-high five kills and two blocks vs. Air Force and hit .273 two weekends ago.
ON THE CHARTS - This Week's MW / NCAA Rankings (per set averages)
Fresno State MW/NCAA Team Rankings
Aces 1st/80th, 1.38
Kills 3rd/84th, 13.38
Hitting 4th/97th, .226
Assists 5th/88th, 12.46
Opponent Hitting 5th/-, .204
Digs 6th/183rd, 14.48
Blocks 8th/176th, 2.01
Fresno State MW/NCAA Individual Rankings
Korrin Wild - Aces, 1st/111th, 0.34 p/s; Kills, 2nd/61st, 3.76 p/s; Points, 2nd/59th, 4.29 p/s
Holly Franks - Aces, 2nd/164th, 0.31 p/s; Points, 9th/-, 3.44
Maci Murdock - Hitting, 3rd/34th, .391
Maggie Eppright - Digs, 8th/-, 3.32 p/s
Marissa Brand - Kills, 9th/-, 3.06 p/s
Christina Lee - Assists, 9th/-, 7.54 p/s
UNLV MW/NCAA Team Rankings
Assists 3rd/76th, 12.59
Digs 4th/115th, 15.27
Kills 4th/98th, 13.27
Blocks 6th/96th, 2.33
Opponent Hitting 7th/-, .204
Hitting 9th/15th, .206
Aces 10th/317th, 0.84
UNLV MW/NCAA Individual Rankings
Stephanie Thelen, Assists, 3rd/37th, 10.91
Sekola Falemaka - Kills, 4th/90th, 3.60; Points, 3rd/93rd, 4.08; Aces - 5th/-, 0.29
Allison Davies - Digs, 4th/161st, 4.09
Madeline Westman - Hitting, 9th/109th, .338; Blocks, 10th/131st, 1.11
Katlin Winters - Blocks, -/163rd, 1.07
San Diego State MW/NCAA Team Rankings
Kills 2nd/22nd, 14.13
Hitting 5th/116th, .218
Digs 5th/121st, 15.19
Blocks 5th/94th, 2.34
Opponent Hitting 6th/-, .201
Assists 7th/21st, 13.30
Aces 8th/232nd, 1.10
San Diego State MW/NCAA Individual Rankings
Emily Harris - Hitting, 5th/56th, .363
Summer Nash - Kills, 5th/106th, 3.49; Points, 5th/110th, 3.99
Kaja Sandberg - Blocks, 6th/76th, 1.18
Courtney Vacarello - Digs, 6th/-, 3.68
Johnna Fouch - Assists, 7th/156th, 9.40
Michelle Waber - Kills, 8th/-, 3.08
FRESNO STATE / UNLV / SAN DIEGO STATE SERIES HISTORY
After its 3-0 win at UNLV last month and 3-1 loss at SDSU, the `Dogs now sport an 11-25-2 all-time mark vs. the Aztecs and a 5-4 ledger vs. the Rebels in the series that started in 1971 and 1996, respectively. Against SDSU, Fresno State's six-match series win streak from 1997-2004 came to an end last year with the Aztecs taking both matches (3-2, 3-1). This year's sweep of the Rebels was the Bulldogs' first series wins since 2002 (3-1, 3-0), and ended the Rebels' three-match series win streak in 2011 and `12.
SCOUTING THE REBELS (13-9, MW 8-4 (3rd-tie)) - www.UNLVrebels.com
Since the `Dogs 3-0 win in Las Vegas in early October, the Rebels have gone 5-3 with all thee losses to teams ranked top three in the league this week - No. 10 Colorado State (3-2), New Mexico (3-1) and Utah State (3-1). Senior outside hitter Sekola Falemaka ranks top five this week in the MW in points (third, 4.07), kills (fourth, 3.60 p/s) and aces (fourth, 0.29 p/s). Senior middle blocker Madeline Westman was an All-MW pick last year and preseason choice in 2013, and leads the team this year in hitting (.338) and ranks second in kills (2.29). Junior libero Allison Davis has four +20-dig totals this year vs. SDSU, Southern Utah and New Mexico (twice) to give her 20 in her career and ranks third in school history for career digs (1,142). Senior setter Stephanie Thelen ranks fifth for the Rebels in career assists (2,802) and third this season in the MW (10.91 p/s). Coming into the season, the Rebels returned six starters and seven letterwinners from last year's squad that went 18-11 overall and placed third in the Mountain West (10-6). Third-year head coach Cindy Fredrick guided the team to its third-best win tally in program history in 2012 (18). Overall in her 26 years at the collegiate level, she has guided teams to seven +20-win seasons and 10 NCAA appearances at Weber State (1985-89), Washington State (1989-2004) and Iowa (2004-08).
SCOUTING THE AZTECS (12-10, MW 7-5 (6th)) - www.GoAztecs.com
After its 3-1, early-October win vs. Fresno State, SDSU went on a 2-4 run with losses to New Mexico (3-2), Wyoming (3-1), Colorado State (3-1) and Utah State (3-0). Since then, it has rebounded with three straight sweeps vs. Boise State, Air Force and New Mexico. Senior middle blocker Emily Harris leads the team in hitting (.346) and her .340 career mark ranks fourth all-time for SDSU. Senior outside hitter Michelle Waber was the MW Newcomer of the Year last fall, and this year ranks third on the team in kills (3.08 p/s) and led the team in both matches last weekend in kills vs. Air Force (16) and New Mexico (16). Senior outside hitter Summer Nash tops the team in kills this year (3.49 p/s) and points (3.99 p/s) and ranks fifth in the MW in both. Senior middle blocker Senior Johnna Fouch was tabbed the 2012 MW Setter of the Year last year and an AVCA Honorable Mention All-American. The 2013 MW Preseason Player of the Year ranks third all-time for the Aztecs in career assists (4,265) and has 42 career double-doubles. Picked to win the MW in the preseason head coaches poll, the Aztecs returned six starters and 13 letterwinners from last year's squad that went 23-8 overall and tied for the Mountain West regular season title (13-3). Fifth-year head coach Deitre Collins-Parker led last year's team to its best conference record and league finish since `96 and best overall mark since `95. In her prior stint, she served five seasons as the head coach at Cornell and led the team to two NCAA trips and three Ivy League titles. She was a two-time national player of the year and three-time All-American as she led Hawai'i to two NCAA titles, and later was the starting middle blocker for the 1988 Olympic Team.
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 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 each has boosted the team in 13 matches this season.
A redshirt sophomore and starter in five September and October 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 in seven starts the last month 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.
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. Past year-end recipients have included 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; 10/28 - Team; 11/5 - Team.
Head Coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell on this week's winners (Team): "This is one of the finest teams I've ever coached. They live and die by each other. Whether someone is a starter or a role player, we all know how important each individual is to the failures and successes of the group. We played a good, clean match against Nevada and had a great comeback against San Jose State to pull off a two-win weekend. I love awarding this to the team."
RPI ON THE RISE
The sixth NCAA RPI ratings of the season was released this week, and Fresno State ranked fifth in the league (82). The remaining MW teams' rankings follow: Colorado State (20), New Mexico (66), Utah State (64), San Diego State (78), UNLV (104), Boise State (123), Wyoming (164), Air Force (222), San José State (254) and Nevada (281).
This week's RPI rating is again 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 10, and Cal State Northridge has ranked No. 22 the past two weeks.
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 to cap the opening month.
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.
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 three newcomers have played key roles this year. Senior right side hitter Holly Franks (Cal Poly) (Tollhouse, Calif.) led the Mustangs in kills and points last season (2.94 k/s; 3.22 p/s). Freshman libero Maggie Eppright (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) was a Pac-7 and County Player of the Year and two-time all-league and all-county choice. Freshman setter Brooke 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 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, 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.
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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