Aug 24, 2019

Bulldog volleyball adopts ‘fighting spirit’

Joseph Edgecomb / The Collegian

Through obstacles and struggles during the volleyball season, there has been a positive attitude change: a team working to get better and a new “fighting spirit” tradition.

“It’s a new year and a new team,” junior setter Allanah Munson said. “We have better team chemistry. We get better every match.”

Freshman Brianna Clarke believes that there’s a more important aspect that’s above winning games in her first year at Fresno State.

“It’s not about winning,” Clarke said. “We get into the gym and we work hard. It’s about improving.”

First-year coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell has found ways to improve the team’s attitude and toughness despite the early season struggles.

“We’re in pursuit in learning how to compete, not wins right now,” Netherby-Sewell said. “People and opponents have told us that we’re tougher this year.”

Hall-of-Fame coach inspires team award

Netherby-Sewell has installed an improving atmosphere inside the North Gym and at Bulldog volleyball matches this season, which has allowed her to introduce a new award to her team.

The Fighting Spirit Award is given to the Bulldog who displays the best fighting spirit in every match.

The Bulldog with the most awards at the end of the season will have her name on a plaque.

Netherby-Sewell received permission from a former coaching legend she once worked with to introduce the new tradition for her team.

“My mentor was Fran Kalafer, a hall-of-fame coach,” Netherby-Sewell said.

Kalafer spent 25 years at Hofstra and Netherby-Sewell served as an assistant under her during the 2005-2006 seasons.

“She taught me a lot about coaching and her mom had four different types of cancer,” Sewell said.

“Ruth Kalafer fought her cancer with an attitude that Fran called a fighting spirit. Fran made an award after her mom’s name and I got permission from her to carry that tradition here at Fresno State.”

‘Dogs face challenging conference opponents

Even with a 4-7 record, the Bulldogs still have an attitude toward improving every day as they develop a fighting spirit.

The team is one victory away from matching their win total from a year ago, with the potential of winning more with 14 games left in the regular season and the conference tournament.

“Every win gives you confidence,” Munson said.

The team has gotten off to a solid start in conference play, with a victory over Louisiana Tech on Sept. 20 on the road, giving the Fresno State a 1-1 record in conference play.

The Bulldogs took on Utah State last night, but scores amd stats were unavailable at press time.

“Louisiana Tech is a better team than last year,” Sewell said. “The victory felt good.”

The Bulldogs, however, have a tougher road lying ahead of them with a nationally-ranked opponent and two teams who are much improved remaining on their schedule, all hailing from their conference.

“It’s probably one of the toughest conferences, one of the top,” Munson said about the WAC. “Hawaii is No. 10 nationally, after that it’s New Mexico State and Utah State that are tough.”

Netherby-Sewell believes these teams will be a significant challenge, but is also looking at the rest of the conference from top to bottom.

“Idaho is at the top of their game, the middle is up in the air with teams who are young and improved,” Netherby-Sewell said.

Young, not tender

The team is young with no seniors, but that hasn’t stopped them from getting the respect of their peers, and their opponents.

“People around here have told us we’re better,” Netherby-Sewell said. “I’m glad the other side of the net notices we’re tougher this year.”

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