After a comeback win against Boise State two weeks ago, the Fresno State volleyball team is ready to give the Broncos another bitter taste of defeat.
â€œI think weâ€™ve shown many times this year that we donâ€™t give up,â€ said Head Coach Ruben Nieves, â€œeven when the situation looks extremely dire.â€
The first match-up with Boise State started off with the Bulldogs down 0-2, but they prevailed in the end with a win in game five.
Although the Bulldogs have suffered three consecutive losses to conference opponents since the win in Idaho, the team is ready to shed any negative thoughts in preparation for Thursdayâ€™s match.
â€œOur goal is to just start overâ€¦and come out with a win,â€ said outside hitter Angela Wiggins, who is returning for her third year and is one of eight senior players.
Nieves said the teamâ€™s recent practices showed that they can brush off the previous losses.
â€œI think anybody who was in the gymâ€¦would have seen a team that was very spirited and determined,â€ Nieves said. â€œAs a coach, you just love to see that. You want to see that every day.
â€œWhenever you have a disappointing loss, whenever youâ€™re in a losing streak, a coach wonders: â€˜Do you have the spirit and determination it takes to keep pushing and plugging away?â€™ I saw a very determined group,â€ Nieves said.
In addition to the hours of practice, the team continues to prepare for the Broncos by studying its own mistakes â€” and its opponentsâ€™â€” through video footage as well as their coachesâ€™ â€œscouting reports,â€ which lists any improvements the team may need to make.
Nieves said the team has shown slight inconsistencies in performance during conference matches.
He hopes to change the problem for tomorrowâ€™s match with a strategy â€œto put together a more complete match from start to finish.â€
However, nothing can fully prepare a team against any opponentâ€™s strategy and there are always going to be additional adjustments throughout the games, Nieves said.
â€œWe know that when we triple-blocked against Boise, they tried to hit a soft shot deep down the line because itâ€™s an open spot,â€ Nieves said. â€œThe extra blocker that we put up there creates an opening in the floor that most teams donâ€™t usually hit the ball to.
â€œWell, they were very good in finding that spot. And so we adjusted to that mid-match against Boise and it helped us and this time we want to make sure that we take that away from them from the start.â€
Although it helps to notice mistakes players may be making, Nieves focuses on the teamâ€™s strengths as well.
Nieves said a few strengths have been consistently serving well, fighting in situations when other teams would typically give up and improving power in each position.
â€œWeâ€™re a team that doesnâ€™t rely on any one player,â€ Nieves said.â€œOn different nights there have been different people who have come through to lead the team.â€
With such strengths, Nieves believes the team has potential to finish in the top half of the conference â€” a goal he hopes to accomplish this season.
The team is now ranked sixth out of nine teams, which gives them â€œa lot of room to go upâ€¦then go down,â€ Nieves said.
Freshman Kelly Mason admits that the season has been a bit tough so far, but is determined to be a part of a winning team â€” which means beating Boise State again.
The main concern now, Mason said, is â€œfor us as a team, to refocus andâ€¦to accomplish our goal to beat Boise State.â€
The Next Vandal-izing: Bulldogs host Vandals
â€¢ When: Thursday, Oct. 4, 7 p.m.
â€¢ Where: Save Mart Center
â€¢ Students free with I.D.
â€¢ Last Meeting:
Sept. 20 at Boise: W 3-2
â€¢ Since Last Win:
at Idaho: L 3-1
vs. Nevada: L 3-0
vs. Utah State: L 3-1