The Fresno State women’s volleyball team will head to east for a pair of Mountain West Conference (MWC) matches this weekend.
On Thursday, the Bulldogs will visit the first place No. 12 Colorado State Rams (17-0, 8-0 MWC). Coach Tom Hilbert is in his 17th season with the club and has eight Coach of the Year awards to his credit.
Saturday afternoon, Fresno State will visit the Wyoming Cowgirls (13-9, 3-5 MWC), led by first-year coach Chad Callihan.
“To me, the Rams are not as physical as they were last year,” said Fresno State coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell. “They don’t make a lot of errors and they play smart. We’re going into their house, which is a loud place.”
Leading Colorado State is middle blocker Samantha Peters, who is second in the MWC in blocks (1.41 per set) and hitting percentage (.397). The team leads the conference in four categories: hitting (.293), assists (13.34 per set), kills (14.65 per set) and blocks (2.90 per set).
The Cowgirls are second in the MWC in blocks with an average of 2.86 per set. Middle blocker Erin Kirby individually leads the conference, blocking 1.81 attacks per set.
But the Bulldogs are not concerned about their weekend challenge. They are on a five-game winning streak and climbing up the standings.
“We treat every opponent the same,” said junior setter Christina Lee. “We’re just working out kinks that we have on the court, but we’re definitely going to go in there and give it our best.”
The Bulldogs have hit .325 over the five-game stretch, boosting them up to fourth-place overall with a .224 hitting percentage.
“We feel like we’re in control of our sideout and percentage, no matter who we’re facing,” Netherby-Sewell. “As long as we can beat times in that battle, we will generally win.
“This week we’re looking to improve our defense so we can defend two really good offenses.”
Maci Murdock led the team with a .634 hitting percentage over the winning streak. She is now second in the conference with .398 and the only Bulldog in the top 10.
“Maci’s definitely the most fun to set for,” Lee said. “She is always there. In transition, she’ll yell ‘I’m here! I’m here!’ and call the set.”
For Thursday’s matchup, the Rams have a wild card: their home crowd. They average 3,146 fans per game at Moby Arena, making it one of the loudest arenas in the MWC.
“We have to learn how to play in loud gyms,” Netherby-Sewell said. “So we’re going to make sure the team understands that it has to communicate in a different way than it’s used to.”