Jul 17, 2019
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The Fresno State women's volleyball team prepares to go to Portland to participate in the Portland Nike Invitational.

Volleyball: Bulldogs hit the road for Portland Invitational

The Fresno State women's volleyball team prepares to go to Portland to participate in the Portland Nike Invitational.

The Fresno State women’s volleyball team prepares to go to Portland to participate in the Portland Nike Invitational.

The Fresno State Bulldogs women’s volleyball team will hit the road for the first time this season to participate in the Portland Nike Invitational.

Their first game, against the University of Portland Pilots, will be today.

The Pilots come into the invitational with a record of 0-3. They lost all three of their games of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Invitational, to Kansas State, UNLV and Cal State Fullerton.

All-time, the Bulldogs lead the Pilots 2-1-1. Their last matchup was in 2009, when Fresno State dropped three sets to Portland.

Key players to watch for the Bulldogs are outside hitters Korrin Wild and Zana Bowens. Both are averaging a little more than three kills per set, putting them in the top 10 of the Mountain West Conference (MWC). Defensively, junior libero Christina Lee leads the team with 3.87 digs per set and is ranked 10th in the MWC.

The Pilots, members of the West Coast Conference (WCC), begin their sixth season under head coach Joe Houck. During the offseason, Houck rejuvenated the Pilots for 2013, adding three new assistant coaches and six newcomers to the volleyball team. The Pilots ended 2012 7-23 (1-15 in conference play) and were 3-9 at home. At last year’s invitational, they won all three games against Idaho State, Tennessee State and UNLV.

The Pilots will send senior outside hitter Autumn Wedan to the court. Wedan leads the team (and the WCC) with 5.45 kills per set. She earned all-tournament honors after totaling 60 kills at the UNLV Invitational.

The Bulldogs face another WCC team on Saturday, when they play the Brigham Young University (BYU) Cougars. The Cougars enter the tournament with a record of 2-2. They lost two out of three at the Hampton Inn Invitational in Bowling Green, Ohio, and won an in-state matchup against Utah Valley University.

Key players to watch for the Cougars are sophomores Alexa Gray and Camry Godfrey. Outside hitter Gray leads her team in kills per set, averaging 3.56. This also places her fourth in the WCC. Godfrey, a setter, is serving up 10.33 assists per set and is third in the WCC.

Afterward, the Bulldogs will go from the WCC to the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) when they face the Wichita State Shockers for the first time. The Shockers (2-1) are the one of only two teams0 with a winning record in the invitational. They began the season in the La Quinta Inn and Suites Invitational in Utah, where they lost only to Arizona State.

The Shockers ended 2012 with a 24-10 record and played in the NCAA Tournament. They made it to the quarterfinals before the sixth-ranked University of Southern California (USC) shut them out. Chris Lamb is in his 14th season as head coach with a record of 287-123 and seven NCAA Tournament appearances (six straight).

Starting for the Shockers will be senior outside hitter Elizabeth Field. Her 54 percent hitting percentage leads the MVC, and she averages 3.11 kills per set, placing her seventh in the conference. She was nominated for player of the week after earning all-tournament honors for her performance.

Ashley Andrade, the 6-foot-2-inch senior from Arizona, leads the MVC with 1.44 blocks per set, making her a key defensive player for the Shockers.

After the Portland Nike Invitational, the Bulldogs will return home to host the Fresno State Classic on Sept. 13.

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