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 â€œfighting spiritâ€ tradition.
â€œItâ€™s a new year and a new team,â€ junior setter Allanah Munson said. â€œWe have better team chemistry. We get better every match.â€
Freshman Brianna Clarke believes that thereâ€™s a more important aspect thatâ€™s above winning games in her first year at Fresno State.
â€œItâ€™s not about winning,â€ Clarke said. â€œWe get into the gym and we work hard. Itâ€™s about improving.â€
First-year coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell has found ways to improve the teamâ€™s attitude and toughness despite the early season struggles.
â€œWeâ€™re in pursuit in learning how to compete, not wins right now,â€ Netherby-Sewell said. â€œPeople and opponents have told us that weâ€™re tougher this year.â€
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.
â€œMy mentor was Fran Kalafer, a hall-of-fame coach,â€ Netherby-Sewell said.
Kalafer spent 25 years at Hofstra and Netherby-Sewell served as an assistant under her during the 2005-2006 seasons.
â€œShe taught me a lot about coaching and her mom had four different types of cancer,â€ Sewell said.
â€œRuth Kalafer fought her cancer with an attitude that Fran called a fighting spirit. Fran made an award after her momâ€™s name and I got permission from her to carry that tradition here at Fresno State.â€
‘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.
â€œEvery win gives you confidence,â€ 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.
â€œLouisiana Tech is a better team than last year,â€ Sewell said. â€œThe victory felt good.â€
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.
â€œItâ€™s probably one of the toughest conferences, one of the top,â€ Munson said about the WAC. â€œHawaii is No. 10 nationally, after that itâ€™s New Mexico State and Utah State that are tough.â€
Netherby-Sewell believes these teams will be a significant challenge, but is also looking at the rest of the conference from top to bottom.
â€œIdaho is at the top of their game, the middle is up in the air with teams who are young and improved,â€ Netherby-Sewell said.
Young, not tender
The team is young with no seniors, but that hasnâ€™t stopped them from getting the respect of their peers, and their opponents.
â€œPeople around here have told us weâ€™re better,â€ Netherby-Sewell said. â€œIâ€™m glad the other side of the net notices weâ€™re tougher this year.â€