Jun 24, 2019

Former sunbird rises with ’Dogs

Bryan Cole / The Collegian

After spending last two seasons with Fresno Pacific, junior setter looking to help rebuild

She began her career as a Sunbird waiting her turn to play. Now Allanah Munson’s volleyball game has risen like a phoenix with the Bulldogs.

The junior setter leads the team in assists for Fresno State this season. The success comes after fighting for playing time at Fresno Pacific for the first two years of her collegiate career.

She has also been a leader in other categories that matter for her team, being an example setter with her play and being an example away from the court.

“She’s very important because she’s one of our biggest competitors,” coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said. “She fights all the time and she’s a very hard worker.”

Despite redshirting after transferring over from Fresno Pacific, Munson was named the 2007 Most Inspirational Player at her team banquet.

At North Medford High School in Klamath Falls, Oregon, Munson was named team captain her senior year and holds school records in assists. She helped lead her team to state tournaments three seasons in a row.

Munson learned how to fight early on during her collegiate volleyball career, as she faced tough competition for a starting position while at Fresno Pacific.

“We recruited her because she had so many abilities as a setter,” Fresno pacific coach Dennis Janzen said. “She wanted to play. She had potential to start but we had Shu Liu and a UC Riverside transfer. She was a good setter, but we had two setters better than her.”

Munson had to battle Tarin Tartaglia and Liu for the starting setter position. She found herself as the third option at setter with the Sunbirds.

“Fresno Pacific as a team is very good and to play on that team was tough,” Munson said. “At Pacific, they have a great setter over there and she was just better than me which is fine because I learned a lot over there.”

The Sunbirds have enjoyed 23 consecutive winning seasons under Dennis Janzen, which includes two National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national championships in 1989 and 2003.

Janzen saw Munson improving her play but wasn’t going to tell her to remain at Fresno Pacific after she decided to leave.

“I think anytime you go someplace, you hope to play,” Janzen said. “We weren’t going to convince her to stay.”

When she made her way to the Fresno State campus, Munson found out the difference between playing in the NAIA and playing for a NCAA Division I institution.

Bryan Cole / The Collegian

“Playing Division I is a different level than NAIA,” Munson said. “I think our conference we play in, the WAC, is tougher. I think the teams that we play are tougher. It’s a different level here, and a higher level.”

Despite the little playing time she got with the Sunbirds, Munson believes that her relationship with her teammates and coaches at Fresno Pacific went well overall.

“I loved my two years there,” Munson said. “Nothing was sour. I just had a little change of heart. I just saw some opportunity over here [at Fresno State] and took advantage of it, and I’m happy where I’m at.

One reason why Munson is content at Fresno State is because of the increased amount of time she has on the volleyball court.

“Yeah, I definitely got more playing time over here,” Munson said while laughing. “I had more of a chance to compete over here than over there.”

Munson is currently second in the Western Athletic Conference in average assist with 9.62 assists per set. As a team, Munson has helped Fresno State to rank fourth in the conference in the assists category.

Munson may be the best option as the setter for the Bulldogs, but she doesn’t believe she’s the most important player.

“Everyone is important,” Munson said. “Every position is important. It starts with a pass so I think passing is the most important thing on our team. Without them [my teammates] I can’t do anything. So I give all the credit to them.”

Munson is unsure with where her volleyball career will take her after its over, but still wants to be involved.

“I don’t know if I’ll go pro or anything,” Munson said. “I definitely see myself coaching. I’ve coached club the past two years and I want to definitely keep coaching. I love the game and I don’t ever want it to be not a part of my life.”

Even though Munson has moved on from her Fresno Pacific experience, her former coach still has high praise for the setter he once recruited.

“She’s a great person,” Janzen said. “She’s done wonderful things, especially for a struggling program. They needed leadership from a player as much as from a coach.”

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