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Senior Lauren Torres (#2) celebrates in a volleyball match while playing for Fresno State. (Fresno State Athletics)

Senior duo looks to lead volleyball to success

Lauren Torres and Jacqueline Hutcheson are looking to make the most of their final season playing collegiate volleyball for Fresno State.

Torres and Hutcheson are two of five returning starters, but more notably are the two lone seniors on the team.

“I’m pretty excited, and it being our last season, it just makes me want to give everything I have to give to this team and finish on a high note,” Torres said.

Hutcheson led the team in service aces with 53 last season. She said another huge part of the excitement is their six new teammates – four transfers and two freshmen.

Torres said new and returning teammates are looking to her and Hutcheson for leadership due to their unmatched experience.

“We’re basically the ones that have to lead by example and show them how it’s done,” Torres said. “We’re not so much vocal, but we just show them the way drills are supposed to be done.”

Both Torres and Hutcheson had much to say on the impact that being a student-athlete has had on various aspects of their lives, starting with their time management ability.

“You’ve got to go to class, do volleyball, leave on a Wednesday and come back on a Sunday, and then have two days here and then leave again,” Hutcheson said. “It teaches you how to be really responsible with your time.”

Torres said that being constantly in motion because of volleyball has taught her to love the “grind” that comes with balancing school and the sport she loves.

“It changes you, and it’s a good change,” Torres said of her experience as a student-athlete.

These changes are reflected in the efforts that both have made academically. Hutcheson and Torres have both made the Academic All-Mountain West Team, three times and once, respectively.

Both players advised student-athletes and students alike to stay organized and plan ahead in order to be successful.

But as for their own success and growth, they attributed a lot of it to head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell.

“You just grow a lot from coming in as a freshman to leaving as a senior,” Hutcheson said. “You mature, and Lauren [Netherby-Sewell] helps you through it all. Whether it’s school, food or anything, she’s there helping us.”

Torres echoed Hutcheson’s sentiments.

“Lauren helps you grow,” Torres said. “She helps you see things in perspectives that you probably would’ve never seen before. She not only teaches you how to be a better player, but also a better individual.”

Netherby-Sewell could not help but have a little fun with her players’ high praise for her.

“They said that?” Netherby-Sewell questioned jokingly. “I know they think it, but they won’t tell me.”

She went on to praise Torres and Hutcheson just as highly. She commended the strides the two have made academically, athletically and personally.

“I think they both have made changes, adapted and matured in our program,” Netherby-Sewell said.

Torres and Hutcheson hope to take these strides into the next chapters of their lives.

Hutcheson will be graduating in three semesters but is still unsure what she will be doing after college.

Torres is planning to attend graduate school to obtain a master’s degree in sports psychology. She is in her last year of her undergraduate studies. Her dilemma lies in whether or not she wants to continue her education at Fresno State.

“I’ve been in the Valley my whole life, so I want to get out of here and see what else is out there,” Torres said.

As for now, the focus is on this season for both players. The Mountain West Coaches’ Poll has Fresno State finishing 10th in the conference, Hutcheson and Torres hope to help lead the team to prove that poll wrong.

“I want to give everything I have left to the team,” Torres said. “I know once the season’s done, I’ll be done because I don’t plan on playing overseas or going pro. I just want to end on a bang.”