Jan 21, 2020

Fresno State Classic to test ‘Dogs

Brianna Campbell / Collegian File Photo

The ‘Dogs will try to rally around each other during the tournament.

The volleyball team hosts its first home tournament of the year

When head volleyball coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell first stepped onto campus in 2008, she wanted to bring a preseason tournament to Fresno State that could help prepare her players for the rigors of a regular season. So in her first year, Netherby-Sewell established the Fresno State Classic, which begins today at 5 p.m. at the Save Mart Center.

Competing in The Classic this year are No. 20 Oregon, Santa Clara and UC Riverside alongside host, Fresno State.

“I’m excited about the level of competition to open our home weekend with two teams that are in the Top 25, well at least receiving votes for it, and a strong upcoming program with UC Riverside,” Netherby-Sewell said. “It’s a great way to start. We’re setting the tone really high right away.”

Netherby-Sewell will be in charge of a much improved squad from last year which returns five starters, including preseason All-Western Athletic Conference (WAC) selection Brianna Clarke. Clarke led the team in kills and blocks as a sophomore in 2009.

Preseason expectations are also higher. The 2010 squad was voted by WAC coaches to finish third in the conference, the highest the team has been predicted to finish since 2004.

“All I know is that our ball control is much improved,” Netherby-Sewell said. “We’re going to be able to play at a higher level.”

Infographic by Michael Uribes / The Collegian

Netherby-Sewell said that she expects a different style of play this year. The team will take more of an attacking approach on offense this season as compared to Netherby-Sewell’s first two years at the helm.

“Our focus is different,” she said. “Last season, we were really focused on outside of the competition stuff and just our ability to practice at a higher level and be able to execute skills at a higher level.”

But that is going to change this season. The reason for the change of philosophy is to force opposing teams out of their comfort zone.

“The main thing is that we hope we are attacking more efficiently than our opponent and we’re getting them out of system a lot more,” Netherby-Sewell said. “So we’re putting them in uncomfortable situations.”

Netherby-Sewell also stressed how important serving is to a team’s success. She expects this year’s squad to make drastic improvements in that area.

“I want to see by this Saturday that our team isn’t afraid to serve tough because when you play opponents that are supposed to be better than you, you have to out-serve them,” she added. “That’s the way to do it, to get them out of their offensive rhythm, so that’s our goal.”

The Fresno State Classic will be an early test for the Bulldogs.

“We have very tough teams coming in,” Netherby-Sewell said. “There’s going to be awesome battles throughout the weekend.”

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