Jul 15, 2019

Volleyball begins pursuit of winning season

In his third year as the head coach of the Fresno State women’s volleyball team, Ruben Nieves is continuing to try and build the Bulldogs into a respectable program.

So far, wins have been few and far between for the Bulldogs that are 1-5 this season. Last season was a disappointing one that ended with a 6-24 record.

In this year’s pre-season Western Athletic Conference Poll, the Bulldogs were picked to finish eighth in the nine-team conference.In addition, no players were named to the All-Conference team.

Returning from last year’s team are Lacey Gera, who led the team in kills last season, her sister, Lisa, who led the team with a .333 hitting percentage and assists leader Tiffany Hess.

In the team’s first home stand of the season, from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2, Fresno State went 1-2.

Fresno State had a hitting percentage increase of .197 to .296 from their 3-1 loss to Idaho State Bengals on Thursday.

In the fourth game against the Bengals, Fresno State hit .091 and was unable to push the match to a fifth game.

Friday marked the first win of the season for the Bulldogs in a match against the UC-Davis Aggies.

Led by Angela Wiggins’ 16 kills and Kasey Van Grouw’s 46 assists and 19 digs, the ‘Dogs won 35-33, 30-27, 30-24.

The Bulldogs ended the home stand on Sunday with a 30-23, 30-21, 30-22 loss to undefeated St. Mary’s. The ‘Dogs hit .131 against the Gaels.

“We have to improve on offense,” Nieves said. “We need to set up our quick hitters and be able to not rely on the outside hitters.”

Despite the lack of victories, Nieves believes that his team is on the right track towards being able to compete with anybody.

“I think we are a way better team than we were in those first two years at this point in the season,” Nieves said.

“This is a very determined group. It’s a group that supports each other. They are committed to the team goal.”

The Bulldogs will have a chance to prove themselves in the Kansas State Invitational beginning Friday where they will take on Arkansas, Kansas State and Northern Iowa.

Fresno State will return home on Sept. 11 for a 7 p.m. match against Oregon State at the Save Mart Center.

“Our win-loss record isn’t where we thought it would be,” Nieves said. “But the season is still young. There is no reason we can’t get a lot better.”

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