Andrew Riggs / The Collegian
After poor showing in 2007, Bulldogs look to turn it around under first-year coach
Thereâ€™s a new focus thatâ€™s sweeping across the North Gym, and itâ€™s because of Lauren Netherby-Sewell.
The first-year coach has installed a new mindset into the Fresno State volleyball squad, as they seek to improve on a dismal last season and change the landscape of Bulldog volleyball for years to come.
Coming from Hofstra University in New York, Nertherby-Sewell compiled a 43-19 record with the Pride, which included a 26-6 record in the Colonial Athletic Association.
She has installed a competitive atmosphere for the volleyball team, where players are going full speed during 2-on-2 drills and shouting words of encouragement towards each other.
â€œThe main goal is to get better every single day,â€ Netherby-Sewell said. â€œThey have a goal of giving a 100 percent effort daily.â€
Netherby-Sewell has already noticed how quickly the girls have adapted to her.
â€œItâ€™s been very positive. The team has been terrific. Their learning curve has been quick,â€ Netherby-Sewell said. â€œTheyâ€™re just responding to everything we give them. Itâ€™s been a fun thing to have.â€
The Bulldogs managed just five victories last season, a letdown which inspired them to shoot for loftier goals this season.
â€œMore wins and a better team,â€ junior Lacey Gera said. â€œChemistry is different. We were a little off last year, but this year we are close.â€
Geraâ€™s teammate, Tairyn Rasmussen, has also noticed the changing atmosphere inside the North Gym.
â€œI feel like the girls are giving more energy and effort,â€ said the returning sophomore and all-conference freshman selection. â€œWith a year like last year, everybody wants to turn around.â€
Gera and Rasmussen have already noticed the change in philosophy for their squad.
â€œWe knew we were going to be a different team,â€ Gera said. â€œWe were a little nervous, but we adapted to her quickly.â€
â€œWhen you have a coach like Lauren, she expects the best, but at the same time, tells it how it is,â€ Rasmussen said. â€œShe doesnâ€™t sugarcoat anything and tells us how good we are but where we need to improve.â€
Young team inspired by young coach
The two volleyball stars arenâ€™t the only ones getting used to the change of scenery in the North Gym.
Two former Buchanan High standouts have also grasped along in helping to rebuild a program.
Freshman Brianna Clarke turned down offers from Florida State and conference rivals Nevada and New Mexico State to play for the Bulldogs.
â€œItâ€™s a little more shocking,â€ Clarke said. â€œBuchanan is a big campus but this is bigger. Plus this is college.â€
Her former high school teammate, and new Bulldog teammate, Baylee Platt, is also adjusting to playing at the college level.
â€œYes, itâ€™s way different,â€ Platt said. â€œItâ€™s a whole new game.â€
The two young Bulldogs have already been asked by their new coach to make an immediate impact.
â€œItâ€™s a little intimidating as a freshman coming into a program like this, but Iâ€™m willing to step up,â€ Clarke said. â€œMy individual goals this year are to work really hard and learn the new footwork they have here.â€
Netherby-Sewell said thereâ€™s a significant reason why everyone needs to be a leader on the team this season.
â€œNot having seniors on the team is probably our biggest challenge,â€ Netherby-Sewell said. â€œItâ€™s a struggle for us. Having a team thatâ€™s been together for a couple of years for the most part and not having senior leadership.â€
Coach’s philosopy to focus on teamwork, not loss
As a junior, Lacey Gera is considered one of the veterans on the team.
â€œSheâ€™s asked me to be more of a leader,â€ said the 2006 WAC Freshman of the Year.
Rasmussen believes that a team-first mindset will lead to success on the court for the Bulldogs.
â€œAs much as I want to improve myself more, I have to look at the whole team because this is a team sport,â€ Rasmussen said. â€œIâ€™m not going to win myself, Iâ€™m going to win with five girls behind me.â€
The goal for the team is to win, but Nertherby-Sewell is also teaching the team something else.
â€œIâ€™m teaching them to just enjoy the journey and take one step at a time,â€ she said. â€œThey have dealt with a lot of adversity together. They just donâ€™t want to lose anymore.â€