Nov. 26, 2013
By Geoff Thurner
FRESNO STATE VOLLEYBALL WEEKLY RELEASE
Season Week 14 / Mountain West Conference Week 10
Live Online Video Stream: http://bit.ly/MWNLive
Opponent Websites: www.GoLobos/com / www.GoFalcons.com
Tues., Nov. 26 - Johnson Center, Albuquerque - 5 p.m PT / 6 p.m. MT
7 p.m. - Fresno State (17-13, 11-7 (2nd)) vs. New Mexico (22-7, 12-6 ()
Wed., Nov. 27 - Cadet Gym, Colorado Springs, 5 p.m. PT / 6 p.m. PT
11 a.m. - Fresno State (17-13, 11-7 (2nd)) vs. Air Force (6-21, 3-12 ())
Capping its 42nd regular season of play this week, the Fresno State volleyball team (17-13, 11-7) heads to New Mexico and Air Force (6-21, 3-12) in pursuit of its best conference finish and overall season win total under sixth-year head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell.
Trailing New Mexico by one match in the race for second place in the MW, the `Dogs are one win shy of their previous best in her tenure (18, 2012), and last year's third-place tie was its best conference placing since 2003.
This weekend also marks the final appearances for a five-member senior class - and one of the team's greatest. Outside hitter hitters Marissa Brand and Korrin Wild are former all-conference hitters, and the other three final Central Valley products have combined for 112 starts - middle blocker Lauren Albertson, and right side hitters Megan Callahan and Holly Franks.
SIZING UP THIS WEEK'S FOES
In their meetings in Fresno six weeks ago, Fresno State topped both New Mexico (3-2) and Air Force (3-1) to cap a five-match win streak (and its first full matches using a 6-2 offense).
The Lobos lead the MW this week in lowest opponent hitting percentage (.153), and also stand second in hitting (.234) and digs (15.32 per set avg.). Lobo outside hitter Chantale Riddle paces the MW in kills and points, and ranks top 40 nationally in each.
Air Force looks for its fourth win in MW play at home this year, and has won at least one set in eight of its nine home contests this year (and the other was a sweep by now-No. 9 CSU). Falcon middle blocker Ayesha Hein ranks fifth in the league and 47th nationally in hitting (.366).
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. - .209, 3.75 k/s, 0.29 sa/s, 2.61 d/s, 0.30 b/s
22 - Marissa Brand, OH, R-Sr., 6-1, Cypress, Calif. - .258, 3.15 k/s, 0.11 sa/s, 2.30 d/s, 0.39 b/s
5 - Christina Lee, S, Jr., 5-6, San Francisco, Calif. - .207, 7.60 a/s 0.14 sa/s, 2.83 d/s
21 - Holly Franks, RS, R-Sr., 6-2, Tollhouse, Calif. - .193, 2.79 k/s, 0.32 sa/s, 1.95 d/s, 0.78 b/s
16 - Maci Murdock, MB, Jr., 6-0, Turlock, Calif. - .371, 2.11 k/s, 0.00 sa/s, 0.17 d/s, 0.90 b/s
8 - Molly Pearson, MB, Jr., 6-0, San Jose, Calif. - .207, 0.65 k/s, 0.24 sa/s, 0.45 d/s, 0.73 b/s
23 - Maggie Eppright, L, Fr., 5-6, San Luis Obispo, Calif. - 0.16 sa/s, 3.52 d/s
LAST TIME VS. NEW MEXICO / AIR FORCE (Oct. 17 & 19, Fresno, Calif.)
In their last meetings six weeks ago, the `Dogs hit .325 vs. the Falcons - one of 11 +.300 totals on the season - and Fresno State's nine aces was two shy of a season high. Two nights before, Fresno State came back from a 2-1 deficit vs. UNM for its fourth, five-set win of the season, and held advantages in hitting (.253-.210), aces (3-2) and blocks (14-11).
Senior outside hitter Korrin Wild logged one of her four +20 kill totals this season vs. the Lobos (20), and senior outside hitter Marissa Brand just missed similar honors (19). Two nights later vs USAFA, Brand led the way with 20 kills and her 11th .300 total (.353) of the year.
Wild scored double-doubles vs. the Lobos (20K, 14D) and Falcons (16K, 14D), and her .316 total against the latter was her eighth +.300 total of the season. Senior right side hitter Holly Franks paced the team in aces vs. UNM (2) and also had one of her seven double-doubles this year (11K, 10D).
Junior middle blocker Maci Murdock led the team in hitting in both contests vs. UNM (.632, 12K) and Air Force (.429, 9K) and in blocks in both tilts (6/5)
Junior setter Christina Lee topped the team in digs for the sixth time in the Falcon match (and one of two as a setter), and freshman libero Maggie Eppright owned top honors vs. the Lobos (19) and just missed her fourth +20-dig total of the year.
LAST WEEKEND'S RECAP VS. WYOMING / No. 10 CSU (Nov., 21-23, 2013, Fresno)
Last week vs. Wyoming in Fresno, the `Dogs handily won the first set, 25-18, then dropped the second one, 25-16. After having set point vs. the Cowgirls in both the third and fourth sets, Wyoming came back to win each, 26-24 and 28-26. Two days later on Senior Day, No.10 Colorado State scored a 3-0 win and became only the second team this year to hit +.300 vs. Fresno State (.384) after it entered the week ranked seventh nationally in the category.
Against Wyoming, senior outside hitter Korrin Wild tied the team season high in kills (22), and her 12 digs marked her 11th double-double of the season and 39th career-wise.
Against No. 10 Colorado State, Marissa Brand led the team in kills (13), points (15) for the ninth and seventh times this season. Her .400 hitting mark was her fifth match-high in 2013 and her fourth +.400 total of the campaign.
SURGING BEHIND THE 6-2
With the introduction of her first 6-2 offense with the `Dogs the last 16 matches, head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell has to be happy with the improved offensive output. With a 10-6 overall mark in that span, the team has averaged a .264 hitting mark (807-297E-2015A) in those contests (compared with a .199 mark in the 14 matches prior (740K-342E-1999A)). The team is also averaging 14.18 kills (709 kills; 50 sets) - more than a full kill per set better that its prior season average (12.61, 807 kills; 64 sets). For comparison's sake, No. 10 Colorado State leads the MW season-wise in both categories (.299; 14.60 p/s) this week, and in MW-only play, the Bulldogs rank second in kills and third in hitting (.248 / 14.23).
SERVING UP GREATNESS
Before it logged no aces at Utah State two weekends ago, the `Dogs had landed 69 aces in 43 sets over the span of five weeks, and had gone from eighth to first in the MW season service ace rankings. Fresno State still leads the category season-wise with a 1.26 season average (and 0.06 better than second-place Colorado State (1.20)).
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 3-5-8 in the conference in MW-only play (0.34 / 0.30 / 0.26 p/s), and Wild and Franks stand second and fifth in the MW for all matches combined (0.33 / 0.30 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 MW / NCAA Rankings (per set averages)
Fresno State Team MW / NCAA Rankings
Aces 1st/123rd, 1.26
Kills 3rd/68th, 13.57
Assists 3rd/69th, 12.67
Hitting 4th/100th, .226
Opponent Hitting 6th/-, .209
Digs 6th/170th, 14.70
Blocks 8th/171st, 2.03
Fresno State Individual MW / NCAA Rankings
Holly Franks - Aces, 3rd/136th, 0.32 p/s; Points, 8th/-, 3.51
Maci Murdock - Hitting, 4th/41st, .371
Maggie Eppright - Digs, 8th/-, 3.52 p/s
Marissa Brand - Kills, 8th/-, 3.15 p/s
Christina Lee - Assists, 8th/-, 7.90 p/s;
Korrin Wild - Kills, 2nd/66th, 3.75 p/s; Points, 2nd/78th, 4.22 p/s; Aces, 6th/-, 0.29 p/s
New Mexico Team MW / NCAA Rankings (per set averages)
Aces 11th/317th, 0.84
Kills 5th/102nd, 13.24
Assists 10th/89th, 11.68
Hitting 2nd/75th, .234
Opponent Hitting 1st/-, .153
Digs 2nd/116th, 15.32
Blocks 3rd/32nd, 2.68
New Mexico Individual MW / NCAA Rankings
Chantale Riddle - Kills, 1st/39th, 4.06; Points, 1st/27th, 4.75
Miquella Lovato - Digs, 2nd/62nd, 4.75
Hannah Johnson - Assists, 4th/52nd, 10.79
Skye Gullatt, Blocks, 4th/77th, 1.20
Lexi Ross - Blocks, 8th/117th, 1.12; Hitting, 9th/94th, .339
Air Force Team MW / NCAA Rankings
Aces 8th/264th, 1.03
Kills 10th/220th, 12.25
Assists 10th/189th, 11.68
Hitting 10th/211st, .185
Opponent Hitting 8th/-, .257
Digs 9th/245th, 13.75
Blocks 11th/311th, 1.36
Air Force Individual MW / NCAA Rankings
Ayesha Hein - Hitting, 5th/47th, .366
Hilary Keltner - Assists, 6th/122nd, 9.97
FRESNO STATE / NEW MEXICO / AIR FORCE SERIES HISTORY
Heading into this weekend, the `Dogs own a 9-9 all-time mark vs. New Mexico and a 6-1 ledger vs. Air Force in the series that started in 1988 and 1996, respectively. The `Dogs won this year's previous contest with the Lobos (3-2) and both of last year's matches at home (3-1) and away (3-2) as part of a 6-1 run going back to 1998. The Falcons' only all-time series win came last year in Colorado Springs (3-1), while the `Dogs bounced back with a 3-0 sweep in Fresno last November and 3-1 victory at home this October.
SCOUTING THE LOBOS (22-7, MW 12-6 (2nd)) - www.GoLobos.com
Junior opposite side hitter Chantale Riddle is a returning honorable mention All-American and All-MW honoree, and in August was a preseason All-MW pick. Likewise, senior Miquella Lovato was the MW Libero of the Year in 2012 and the league coaches preseason choice in `13. This week, Riddle is the conference leader in kills (4.06 p/s) and points (4.75 p/s) and Lovato stood second in digs (4.75 p/s). Seventh-year head coach Jeff Nelson sports a 134-75 record at the Lobo helm and a 375-222 overall mark in his 17 years that includes eight seasons at Texas Tech (1995-2002) and four at San Francisco (2003-06). In his stint in Albuquerque, the Lobos have notched six winning seasons, five 20-win totals and two NCAA Tournament trips. This year, his squad welcomed back six starters from last year's team that went 20-13 and placed seventh in the MW (7-9).
SCOUTING THE FALCONS (6-21, MW 3-12 (10th)) - www.GoFalcons.com
The Falcons look to end a four-match skid, and all three of their conference wins this year have all come at home vs. Boise State (3-1), Nevada (3-0) and Wyoming (3-1). Two individuals rank top 200 nationally this week - junior middle blocker Ayesha Hein (hitting, 47th, .366) and junior setter Hillary Keltner (assists, 122nd, 9.77 p/s). Air Force returns six starters and 13 letterwinners from last year's squad that went 9-21 overall and placed eighth in the MW (3-13). Fourth-year head coach Matt McShane welcomed a PrepVolleyball Honorable Mention signee class in 2012. In prior stints, he served as an assistant coach at California, Utah and BYU, and the associate head coach at New Mexico.
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 (3.75 / 4.22 per set) and ranks second in the conference and 66th and 78th nationally in the two categories. Likewise, the returning All-MW pick ranked sixth in the MW rankings this week in aces (0.29 p/s) after she topped the MW last year and stood 12th nationally. In MW-only matches, she stood fifth in the league this week in aces (0.30 p/s), and also stood third in points (4.22 p/s) and kills (3.79 p/s). Defensively, she ranked third on the team in digs (2.61 p/s), and is one of its most called-upon in serve receive. On team all-time lists, her place among the team's greatest players is confirmed by her top-10 status career-wise in aces (third, 133), aces per set (fourth, 0.29 p/s), digs (fifth, 1,187) and kills (seventh, 1,224).
On the season she has eight +.300 totals and 22 double-digit kill totals among her 27 matches. She logged a season-high .438 hitting mark vs. SDSU in early November, and her 16 kills was the team's three-set season best and gave her the team's top honors in kills and points 14 times in 2013. Likewise, she has led the squad in aces a team-best 10 times, and in similar #s of matches in digs (5) and hitting (5). She has logged four 20-kill efforts this year at home in four sets vs. Wyoming (22, 12 digs), and in five-setters 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 11 this year and 39 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 21 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 ranked eighth in the MW kill rankings (3.15 p/s), and top three in MW-only matches in kills (second, 3.82 p/s) and points (third, 4.22 p/s). In 2013, Brand has led the team in kills in nine matches; seven times in points; five 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 17 double-digit kill efforts the last 20 matches (including six double-doubles). In early October, her season-best .478 hitting mark vs. Nevada is one of four +.400 totals with her total at UNLV (.444, 14 kills), and vs. No. 10 CSU (.400, 13 kills) and Boise State (.471, 17 kills), and 12 +.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, 3,804), kills (fourth, 1,282), sets played (fifth, 433), matches played (ninth, 121) and digs (10th, 972).
In her first season for the `Dogs, senior right side hitter Holly Franks (Tollhouse, Calif.) has boosted the offense with team match highs in aces in nine matches, and likewise in a similar # of matches in points (7), blocks (7), kills (6) and hitting (4). Overall this week, the Fresno-area native ranked third in the MW in aces (0.32 p/s) and 136th nationally. She also stood eighth in the MW in points (3.66 p/s), and top-three for the team this year in aces (first, 0.32 p/s), points (second, 3.51 p/s), blocks (second, 0.78 p/s) and kills (third, 2.79 p/s). In late September, she logged her season high in kills and points vs. Utah State (20/24) - and the latter is team season best - 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 eight double-doubles this year, others came vs. Wyoming (13 kills, 11 digs), 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 six +.300 totals in 2013, including a season-high .455 at Wyoming four weeks ago and .333 vs. SDSU three weeks ago.
The MW's hottest hitter the second half of the season, junior middle blocker Maci Murdock (Turlock, Calif.) had a five-match, 60-attempt error-less string end last month. This week, she ranked 41st nationally and second in the MW in hitting (.371) and is .06 ahead of the team season school record (.365, Brianna Clarke, 2010). Team-wise this year, she leads Fresno State in hitting (.371) and blocks (0.90 p/s), and stands fourth for the `Dogs in kills (2.11 p/s). Two weeks ago, she logged a season high 14 kills vs. Boise State (.571) and was one kill shy of her career high, and her 11th double-digit kill total of the season. In early October, 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), New Mexico (.632, 6 blocks), Santa Clara (.600, 10 kills), and CSU Bakersfield (.600, 6 kills) among her 16 +.300 marks. 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 30 matches this year (with Christina Lee), she has led the team in blocks in a team-best 16 matches. She posted her season blocks high (8) in five sets vs. Boise State and in four sets vs. Wyoming, 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 (.335) and ranks eighth in blocks assists (258). She also stands top 10 season-wise for Fresno State in hitting (sixth, .337, 2012) and block assists (10th, 102, 2012).
The past eight weeks, junior Christina Lee (San Francisco, Calif.) made her first starts at setter since 2011 and has helped the team to a 15-9 mark. In that span, she is averaging 9.89 assists per set (860 assists / 87 sets), and directed the team to all 11 of its +.300 marks this year vs. Boise State (.381), 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 30 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 in early November 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 ninth-best mark of the year and one of five team match leaders in 2013. She has a team-high 10 double-doubles this year and 12 in her career.
Senior middle blocker, three-year starter and team co-captain Lauren Albertson (Fresno, Calif.) got the opening call the first 10 matches of the fall and three more times the past month. The opening weekend of the season, she was one off her career high for blocks vs. Santa Clara (7) and added six vs. CS Northridge. Offensively, she racked up a season-high 11 kills vs. Rice and hit .350, and added +6 kills vs. SCU (8), CS Northridge (7) and at Nevada (6). She ranks sixth on the team this week in blocks average season-wise (0.67 p/s) and has led the team in blocks in six contests.
Freshman libero Maggie Eppright (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) has smoothly settled into the starting libero role the past 25 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 seventh- and ninth-best marks overall in the conference in 2013 and the former is the second-best in non-five-set matches. She has logged 14 other double-digit dig figures vs. UNLV (20, 4 sets), New Mexico (19, 5 sets), Boise State (19, 4s; 17, 5s), UNLV (16, 3s), San Diego State (16, 4s), Utah State (16, 4s), American (16, 5s), SJSU (16, 5s), Belmont (15, 5s), Air Force (14, 4s), Wichita State (14, 4s), Xavier (14, 3s), Wyoming (13, 3s), Wyoming (13), No. 10 CSU (10) and SDSU (10, 3s). She ranks sixth in the MW in digs in conference play (3.97 p/s) and tops among freshmen. Altogether, she has paced the squad in digs in 14 of the last 21 contests and 16 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 380 digs this season is the second-best mark in FS history among freshmen, and is 61 shy of the best mark (Tricia Tuley, 441, 1993).
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 has racked up +10 assists in nine matches, including a season-high 21 vs. No. 10 CSU in mid-November, 18 assists vs. San Jose State, 15 against UNLV, and 14 in five matches vs. the Broncos, Rebels, Spartans, Wolf Pack and Lobos. In MW-only play, the duo have the `Dogs ranked second in the league team rankings for hitting (.248) and assists (13.27 p/s) and third in kills (14.23 per set).
In late August, sophomore outside hitter Zana Bowens (Long Beach, Calif.) 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. In mid-September at UC Irvine, she logged a season high in aces (3) and her second- and third-highest totals of her career in kills and points (17 / 20.5). 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 ninth in kills (21) and points (24).
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 11 of the last 15 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 and aces four times this year. With a 0.26 aces per set average in MW play, she stands eighth in the MW this week.
Junior outside hitter Jaimee-Lee Morrow (Mooroolbark, Australia) has been one of the team's most called upon serving specialists and has appeared in 18 of the team's last 25 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 nine matches for the `Dogs in the MW slate, and hit .500 against both San Jose State (2K-0E-4A) and Nevada (3K-0E-6A). Among her five straight matches in October with a kill, she posted a season-high five kills and two blocks vs. Air Force and hit .273 in mid-October.
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 17 and 18 matches this season.
A redshirt sophomore and starter in six matches this year, 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 11 starts the last two months 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 ninth NCAA RPI ratings of the season was released this week, and Fresno State stood 82nd and fourth in the league. The remaining MW teams' rankings follow: Colorado State (20), New Mexico (72), Utah State (76), San Diego State (105), UNLV (133), Boise State (146), Wyoming (147), Air Force (224), San José State (230) and Nevada (271).
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 has received Capital One Academic All-District 8 honors the past three seasons, and sports a 3.92 grade point average. She won her first honor in 2011 with teammate Cecilia Agraz - the first two-time honoree in the program history (2011, 1st Team; 2010, 2nd Team) and the Bulldogs' first Academic All-American ( 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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