Joseph Vasquez / The Collegian
Dallas â€” Four years ago, Fresno State was No. 1 in the nation.
In 2008, they came one game away from competing for that title again.
Over three days, the menâ€™s club volleyball team played eight games total, losing just two â€“ Colorado on day one of the tournament and Illinois in sudden death elimination.
Joseph Vazquez / The Collegian
In the sudden-death elimination Saturday, the Bulldogs advanced to the third round, but came up short against No. 1-seeded Illinois.
â€œIâ€™m pleased with the way we played against Illinois,â€ outside hitter Jake Wiens said. â€œWe knew we wanted to get to play Illinois, but couldnâ€™t look over any team in the process.â€
The Bulldogs fought until the end, using every ounce of energy they had in the final game.
â€œOur team played toe-to-toe,â€ coach Brian Tsukimura said. â€œIâ€™m proud of these guys. Every player stepped up and played the best they have all season.â€
Illinois lost to Lakeland College in the finals, while Fresno State tied with the University of Central Florida for third place.
There was no lack of fan support during the match ups, either. Teams from Sacramento State and UC Davis gathered together to cheer on a fellow California team.
Even players from Santa Clara, the team the Bulldogs beat earlier in the day, stood and watched.
The Bulldogs lost only five sets over the weekend, which included two to Illinois, one to Santa Clara and two in the loss to Colorado.
Tsukimura said the loss to Colorado was somewhat positive because it was a wake-up call.
â€œThat loss ignited a fire under our butts,â€ Wiens said. â€œWe are a slow-starting team and in the mornings, we have a tough time.â€
Up until playing Santa Clara on Saturday, the Bulldogs had won every first set they played, usually by a decent margin.
Outside hitter Jake Wiens dominated this weekend and took First Team All-American.
Leading the team in kills was outside hitter, Kit Maddox.
Maddox, who received an honorable mention recognition from the tournament, had 80 kills and 26 digs.
Wiens was right behind him with 77 kills and 36 digs.
The final day of play included three games for Fresno State against Arizona State, Santa Clara and Illinois.
All the games were close in score and left little room for error on both sides.
In the second set against Arizona, the Bulldogs led by no more than three points throughout. The final score in that set was 25-23.
â€œWe led in the beginning of the ASU game and they never caught up,â€ Tsukimura said. â€œEverybody had fun and we showed we could compete.â€
In the Santa Clara game, Fresno State lost the first set, but the Bulldogs came back and won sets two and three.
Although the Bulldogs are disappointed that they didnâ€™t earn the 2008 title, they still have a medal to show for their efforts.
The No. 3 rank is the highest the Bulldogs have been since 2004.
â€œIt was a roller coaster ride,â€ Wiens said. â€œBut we won when we needed to.â€
The Bulldogs played eight games from Thursday, April 10 to Saturday, April 12 and lost only twice.
Buffalo: 25-21, 25-22
Colorado: 25-11, 22-25, 8-15
Michigan: 25-13, 25-23
Virginia Tech: 25-17, 25-20
JMU: 25-18, 25-19
ASU: 25-16, 25-23
Santa Clara: 20-25, 25-20, 15-12
Illinois: 26-28, 18-25