Nov. 13, 2013
FRESNO STATE VOLLEYBALL WEEKLY RELEASE
Season Week 12 / MW Week 8
Live Online Video Stream: http://bit.ly/MWNLive
Opponent Websites: www.GoBroncos.com / www.UtahStateAggies.com
Thursday, Nov. 14 - Boise, Idaho
6 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. MT - Fresno State (16-10, 10-4 (2nd)) at Boise State (11-14, 5-10 (9th))
Saturday, Nov. 16 - Logan, Utah
6 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. MT - Fresno State (16-10, 10-4 (2nd)) at Utah State (16-9, 9-5 (4th))
Tied for second place in the Mountain West with three weekends left of the regular season, the Fresno State volleyball team (16-10, 10-4) returns to mountains for the third time the past month when it plays at Boise State (11-14, 5-10) on Thursday night and Utah State (16-9, 9-5) on Saturday night.
Fresno State is on a 9-2 run the last six weeks with its only losses at unbeaten MW leader and No. 10 Colorado State and vs. UNLV, and sits one match ahead of Utah State in the MW standings.
SIZING UP THIS WEEK'S FOES
Boise State (11-14, 5-10) stood ninth in the league this week, and is one of four league teams to edge the `Dogs this year. In its first year in the MW, Utah State (16-9, 9-5) is 7-1 the last four weeks with its only loss a 3-2 decision at home to No. 10 Colorado State. In the preseason MW conference rankings, the Aggies, Bulldogs and Broncos were picked to finish fourth, sixth and seventh by MW head coaches. Serving and passing is often a deciding factor, and this week Fresno State, Boise State and Utah State rank 1-2-3 in the MW in aces (1.36 / 1.25 / 1.20 p/s).
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., .218, 3.83 k/s, 0.32 sa/s, 2.66 d/s, 0.29 b/s
22 - Marissa Brand, OH, R-Sr., 6-1 - Cypress, Calif., .255, 3.07 k/s, 0.09 sa/s, 2.31 d/s, 0.35 b/s
5 - Christina Lee, S, Jr., 5-6 - San Francisco, Calif., .207, 7.78a/s, 0.15 sa/s, 2.94 d/s
21 - Holly Franks, RS, R-Sr., 6-2 - Tollhouse, Calif., .191, 2.80 k/s, 0.33 sa/s, 1.96 d/s, 0.79 b/s
16 - Maci Murdock, MB, Jr., 6-0 - Turlock, Calif., .385, 2.07 k/s, 0.00 sa/s, 0.16 d/s, 0.83 b/s
8 - Molly Pearson, MB, RSo., 6-0 - San Jose, Calif., .234, 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. - 0.18 sa/s, 3.39, d/s
LAST TIME VS. UTAH STATE / BOISE STATE (9/26-28/13)
In late September at the Save Mart Center, Fresno State edged Utah State, 3-1, for its third straight victory in the series and went past regulation in all three of its winning sets (28-16, 19-25, 26-24, 26-24).
Senior right side hitter Holly Franks' 20 kills tied the team's season high for a non-four-set match, and her season-high eight blocks gave her 24 points - tied for the squad's overall 2013 high.
Freshman libero Maggie Eppright's 28 digs is still the MW's second-best total in a non-five set match and the team's overall season high, as was sophomore middle blocker Molly Pearson's career-best nine blocks.
Junior middle blocker Maci Murdock and senior outside hitter Marissa Brand added seven and six blocks to help give the team a season-high 18 blocks, and its 85 digs was its second-best team tally of `13.
Against Boise State, the Broncos used a 7-2 run midway through the fifth set for a 3-2 win, and ended a six-match Fresno State series win streak. Earlier in the match, Fresno State handily won the first and fourth sets (25-16, 25-17), and BSU narrowly took the second and third sets (26-24, 26-24).
The `Dogs hit .301 - one of 10 +.300 totals on the season - and held advantages in the team comparisons for hitting (.301-.214), kills (70-68), assists (67-63), aces (5-2) and digs (84-63), and trailed only slightly in blocks (12-11).
Fresno State featured four players with + 10 kills and double-doubles in the match - All-MW outside hitter and senior Korrin Wild (20 kills, 15 digs), Franks (18 kills, .283, 14 digs, 3 aces), Brand (17, .471, 15 digs), Murdock (11 kills, 8 blocks, .429), and junior setter Christina Lee (57 assists, 19 digs).
LAST WEEKEND'S RECAP VS. UNLV / SDSU (11/7-9/13)
In Saturday's 3-0 decision at San Diego State, the `Dogs combined for a .358 hitting mark - its second-highest mark of the year - while SDSU's .205 total just missed the 12th Bulldog opponent total of .200 or lower this year.
After a back-and-forth first set that saw 19 ties, the `Dogs outlasted the returning NCAA qualifiers for a 30-28 advantage (and its second-highest point total of the year). Fresno State then added 25-18 and 25-17 advantages in the second and third sets to become only the second conference team this year to sweep the returning MW co-champions.
The `Dogs featured four hitters with +10 kills and +.300 marks for the first time this year - senior outside hitters Korrin Wild (16, .438) and Marissa Brand (13, .314), senior right side hitter Holly Franks (11, .333) and junior middle blocker Maci Murdock (10, .474).
Junior Christina Lee ended with 41 assists - a three-set season high - and continued to share setting duties in the 6-2 offense with freshman Brooke Legaux who added five assists. Lee also topped the team in digs (14) for the sixth time this year en route to her team-high 11th double-double of the season and 13th of her career. Wild added 10 digs for her 10th double-double of '13 (and 38th career-wise).
In her sixth start of the year, redshirt sophomore middle blocker Molly Pearson topped the team in blocks (4) for the third time this season.
In its 3-1 loss to UNLV, the `Dogs rolled to a 25-17 first-set win, but dropped the next three stanzas (25-10, 25-21, 25-21). The Rebels ended with a .272 hitting mark - a season high for Bulldog opponents among their 13 MW matches this year - while the `Dogs combined for a .187 mark.
Fresno State did top the team comparison in aces (5-2), kills (56-53) and assists (54-48), while UNLV also held edges in digs (78-71), blocks (12-5) and fewest service errors (2-8).
Individually, senior right side hitter Holly Franks and senior outside hitter Korrin Wild led the team in kills (17 / 16) and hitting (.239 / .256) to pace the team in the respective categories for the sixth and fourth times this year, respectively. Franks also dialed up three aces and paced the team for the seventh time this year.
Freshman libero Maggie Eppright topped the team in digs (20) for a team-high 11th time this year and posted her fourth +20-digit tally of 2013.
SURGING BEHIND THE 6-2
With the introduction of her first 6-2 offense with the `Dogs the last 12 matches, head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell has to be happy with the improved offensive output. With a 9-3 overall mark in that span, the team has averaged a .277 hitting mark (612K-211E-1499) in those contests (compared with a .199 mark in the 14 matches prior (740K-342E-1999A)). The team is also averaging 13.60 kills (612 kills; 45 sets) - more than a 3/4 kill per set better that its prior season average (12.98, 740 kills; 57 sets). For comparison's sake, No. 10 Colorado State leads the MW season-wise in both categories (.298; 14.55 k/p/s) this week, and in MW-only play, the Bulldogs rank first in kills and second in hitting (14.31 / .258), and the Rams are first in hitting (.280) and third in kills (14.23 p/s).
SERVING UP GREATNESS
Thanks to its 64 aces in 38 sets the last month, the `Dogs have gone from eighth to first in the MW season service ace rankings with a 1.36 season average (and 0.11 better than second-place Boise State (1.25)). 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 Franks. Wild and Pearson rank 1-2-4 in the conference in MW-only play (0.38 / 0.37 / 0.34 p/s), and Wild and Franks stand second and third in the MW for all matches combined (0.33 / 0.32 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).
ON THE CHARTS - This Week's Mountain West / NCAA Rankings (per set averages)
Fresno State MW/NCAA Team Rankings
Aces 1st/86th, 1.36
Kills 3rd/70th, 13.52
Hitting 4th/92nd, .228
Assists 3rd/75th, 12.62
Opponent Hitting 5th/-, .203
Digs 6th/172nd, 14.67
Blocks 8th/181st, 1.98
Fresno State Individual MW/NCAA Team Rankings
Holly Franks - Aces, 2nd/107th, 0.33 p/s; Points, 7th/-, 3.55
Maci Murdock - Hitting, 3rd/30th, .385
Maggie Eppright - Digs, 8th/-, 3.39 p/s
Marissa Brand - Kills, 9th/-, 3.07 p/s
Christina Lee - Assists, 8th/-, 7.78 p/s;
Korrin Wild - Kills, 2nd/58th, 3.83 p/s; Points, 2nd/62nd, 4.32 p/s; Aces, 3rd/139th, 0.32 p/s
Boise State MW/NCAA Team Rankings
Aces 2nd/142nd, 1.25
Kills 5th/106th, 13.17
Hitting 3rd/85th, .230
Assists 5th/88th, 12.45
Opponent Hitting 10th/-, .271
Digs 10th/304th, 12.32
Blocks 10th/211st, 1.88
Boise State Individual MW/NCAA Team Rankings
Brittany Reardon - Hitting, 3rd/37th, .371
Ally Duffin - Hitting, 2nd/-, .387
Casey Rose - Aces, 5th/-, 0.28
Abbey Vollkommer - Aces, 6th/-, 0.28
Hannah Hubbard - Digs, 7th/-, 3.65
Utah State MW/NCAA Team Rankings
Aces 3rd/165th, 1.20
Kills 9th/173rd, 12.63
Hitting 7th/137th, .212
Assists 9th/173rd, 11.75
Opponent Hitting 3rd/-, .181
Digs 5th/139th, 14.97
Blocks 4th/34th, 2.66
Utah State Individual MW/NCAA Team Rankings
Kaitlyn VanHoff - Blocks, 3rd/27th, 1.33
Alyssa Everett - Blocks, 5th/72nd, 1.20
Paige Neves - Assists, 5th/78th, 10.47
Rachel Orr - Kills, 6th/163rd, 3.28; Points, 6th/168th, 3.77
Ashlan Rogers-Court - Digs, 4th/-, 4.17; Aces, 10th/-, 0.26
FRESNO STATE / BOISE STATE / UTAH STATE SERIES HISTORY
Among this weekend's opponents, Fresno State sports a 17-8 all-time advantage vs. Boise State in the rivalry dating back to 1994. Narrowing the window to sixth-year head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell's tenure, the `Dogs are 6-3 since 2008, and the Broncos' 3-2 win in September ended a six-match win streak from 2009-12. The `Dogs also own a 12-10 advantage in the Aggie all-time series that started in 1980. Netherby-Sewell's Fresno State squads own a 7-3 edge, and won the three most recent meetings in 2013 (3-1) and in 2011 (3-0, 3-0).
SCOUTING THE BRONCOS (11-14, MW 5-10 (9th)) - www.GoBroncos.com
The Broncos lost a pair of road matches last week at New Mexico and Air Force by 3-1 counts and hit .254 and .206 in the tilts. Ranked ninth in the MW standings this week, the Broncos' wins in MW play have come vs. Fresno State (3-2), San Jose State (3-2), Nevada (3-2), Air Force (3-0) and Wyoming (3-0). In this week's NCAA rankings, the Broncos ranked 85th nationally in hitting (.230), and junior middle blocker Brittany Reardon stood 37th individually (.371). Freshman middle blocker Maddy O'Donnell led the team last weekend in kills for the two matches (22, .487). This week, junior middle blocker Aly Duffin and Reardon ranked second and fourth in the MW in hitting (.387 / .371), and others ranked top 10 included senior setter Casey Rose (aces, fifth, 0.28), freshman libero Abbey Vollkommer (fifth, 0.28) and freshman libero Hannah Hubbard (digs, seventh, 3.65). Rose ranks ninth in school history in career assists (1,807) and is one of seven letterwinners and three starters back from 2012. Fifth-year head coach Shawn Garus sports a 73-78 record at the helm and an 188-198 mark overall. He has led BSU to three straight winning seasons in 2010 (21-12), 16-15 (2011) and 17-15 (2012).
SCOUTING THE AGGIES (16-9, MW 9-5 (4th)) - www.UtahStateAggies.com
In its first season in the Mountain West, Utah State is one win shy of its fourth double-digit league victory tally in the last nine seasons. Last week the Aggies won at Air Force (3-1) and were swept at New Mexico. This week in the MW, Utah State ranked third in opponent hitting (.181) and aces (1.20 p/s) and fourth in blocks (2.66 p/s), and five individuals stood top 10 - junior middle blocker Kaitlin VanHoff (blocks, third, 1.33), senior middle blocker Alyssa Everett (blocks, 5th, 1.20 p/s), junior outside hitter Rachel Orr (kills, sixth, 3.28 p/s; points, sixth, 3.77 p/s), junior setter Paige Neves (assists, fifth, 10.47 p/s) and junior libero Ashlan Rogers-Court (digs, fourth, 4.17 p/s; aces, 10th, 0.26 p/s). Neves and Orr are returning All-WAC First-Team choices, and VanHoff and sophomore opposite side hitter Elle Brainard were All-WAC Second-Team choices in 2012 (and Brainard was the WAC Freshman of the Year). The Aggies come off a 21-9 mark in 2012 and return five starters and 10 letterwinners from last year's WAC regular season champions. Eighth-year head coach Grayson DuBose was tabbed the WAC Coach of the Year in 2012 and `07, and is the program's second-winningest coach (129-107). In his tenure, he has mentored two Aggie All-Americans, 21 All-WAC selections and 47 Academic All-WAC honorees.
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 (3.83 / 4.32 per set) and ranks second in the conference and 58th and 62nd nationally in the categories. Likewise, the returning All-MW pick ranks third in the MW rankings this week in aces (0.32 p/s) after she topped the MW last year and stood 12th nationally. In MW-only matches, she stands third in the league this week in aces (0.37 p/s), and also ranks second in points (4.48 p/s) and third in kills (3.92 p/s). Defensively, she ranks second on the team in digs (2.66 p/s), 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), aces (third, 132) and digs (fifth, 1,154).
On the season she has seven +.300 totals and 20 double-digit kill totals among her 23 matches. She logged a season-high .438 hitting mark vs. SDSU, and her 16 kills was the team's three-set season best and gave her the team's top honors in kills and points 13 times in 2013. Likewise, she has led the squad in aces a team-best nine times, and in similar #s of matches in digs (5) and hitting (4). 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 then-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 10 this year and 38 career-wise came in three sets vs. SDSU (16 kills, 10 digs), four sets vs. UNLV (16 kills, 10 digs), 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 17 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 to eighth in the MW kill rankings (3.07 p/s), and third in MW-only matches (3.86 p/s), .018 behind leader Chantale Riddle of UNM (4.06) and teammate Korrin Wild (second, 3.92 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 15 double-digit kill efforts the last 16 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 10 +.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, 3,676), kills (sixth, 1,231), sets played (sixth, 419) and matches played (ninth, 117).
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 seven matches, and likewise in a similar # of matches in blocks (7), aces (7), kills (6), hitting (4). Overall this week, the Fresno-area native ranked second in the MW in aces (0.33 p/s) and 107th nationally. She also ranked seventh in the MW in points (seventh, 3.55 p/s), and top-three for the team this year in aces (second, 0.33 p/s), points (second, 3.55 p/s), blocks (second, 0.79 p/s) and kills (third, 2.80 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 in October. 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-tourney honors opening weekend after she hit a season high vs. CS Northridge (.400) - one of four +.300 totals on the year, including a season-high .455 at Wyoming two weeks ago and .333 vs. SDSU last week.
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 three weeks ago. This week, she ranked 30th nationally and third in the MW in hitting (.385), and her hitting average in MW-only matches (.414) leads the league by .002. Team-wise this year, she leads Fresno State in hitting (.385) and blocks (0.83 p/s), and stands fourth for the `Dogs in kills (2.07 p/s). Twice in the last four weeks she posted a season-high 12 kills vs. San Jose State (.267, 4 blocks) and New Mexico (.632, 6 blocks), and added her ninth double-digit kill total of the season last week vs SDSU (10, 3 sets, .474). Five weeks 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 26 matches this year (with Christina Lee), she has led the team in blocks in a team-best 12 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 (239). This year's .385 mark is .020 better than the season school record of Brianna Clarke (.365, 2010), and she also stands top 10 season-wise in hitting (sixth, .337, 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 14-6 mark. In that span, she is averaging 9.83 assists per set (745 assists / 75 sets), and directed the team to all 10 of its +.300 marks this year vs. Nevada (.376, .302), San Diego State (.358), UNLV (.356), Air Force (.325), SJSU (.317), Boise State (.301), Wyoming (.300), CSUB (.300) and Xavier (.300). A starter in all 26 matches this year, she logged a season-high 57 assists in five sets vs. both Belmont and Boise State, and her +50 assists vs. the Anteaters (51) and Aggies (50) are the team's best in a non-five-set match. Her 41 assists vs. SDSU last weekend was the Bulldogs' three-set season best 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. She has a team-high nine double-doubles this and 11 in her career.
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 ninth in 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 two weeks ago, she ranks third on the team this week in blocks average season-wise (0.71 p/s) just behind Maci Murdock (0.83 p/s) and Holly Franks (0.79 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 six matches, including a season-high 18 assists vs. San Jose State, 15 against UNLV, 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 (14.31 per set) and second in hitting (.258) and assists (13.35 p/s).
Freshman libero Maggie Eppright (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) has smoothly settled into the starting libero role the past 21 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. UNLV (20, 4 sets), 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), Wyoming (13, 3s) and SDSU (10, 3s). She ranks sixth in the MW in digs in conference play (3.87 p/s) and tops among freshmen. Altogether, she has paced the squad in digs in 10 of the last 17 contests and 12 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 319 digs this season is the fifth-best mark in FS history among freshmen, and she's is 38 shy of the fourth-best mark (Tuli Peters, 348).
With starts in five straight matches in September and October and once in November, 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 and has led the team in the category in three matches. 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 eight of the last 11 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 0.34 aces per set average in MW play, she stands fourth in the MW this week and only .04 behind the leader and teammate Holly Franks (0.38 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 21 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, and her digs season high (2) came vs. UP and Boise State.
Senior right side hitter Megan Callahan (Atwater, Calif.) has played eight of the last 12 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.
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.
RPI ON THE RISE
The seventh NCAA RPI ratings of the season was released this week, and Fresno State improved two positions (80) and ranked fourth in the league. The remaining MW teams' rankings follow: Colorado State (19), New Mexico (61), Utah State (72), San Diego State (100), UNLV (111), Boise State (142), Wyoming (169), Air Force (222), San José State (236) and Nevada (280).
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 No. 21 Cal State Northridge has ranked top 25 the past three 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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