Voleyball: ‘Dogs expect tough foes at Bakersfield

Fresno State sophomore libero Maggie Eppright fields the ball during the Bulldogs’ appearance at the Adidas Rice Invitational last August. Photo by Geoff Thurner/Fresno State Athletics
Fresno State sophomore libero Maggie Eppright fields the ball during the Bulldogs’ appearance at the Adidas Rice Invitational last August. Photo by Geoff Thurner/Fresno State Athletics

Fresno State sophomore libero Maggie Eppright fields the ball during the Bulldogs’ appearance at the Adidas Rice Invitational last August. Photo by Geoff Thurner/Fresno State Athletics

The Fresno State volleyball team is hoping to build on its strong three-win showing at the Jack Kaiser Classic in New York this past weekend. The Bulldogs made strides and have now improved to a 5-6 record.

And they expect tougher competition at the Roadrunner Classic in a four-team tournament in Bakersfield this weekend.

Fresno State head volleyball coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell isn’t surprised by how the season has played out so far, but likes how the team has gelled and wants to see the team’s consistency improve.

“I think it’s a little bit typical right now,” Netherby-Sewell said. “We have a lot of new players playing. Right now, we’re either beating the heck out of teams, or we’re losing matches that I think we have shots of winning. We’re trying to find more stability. We’ve got to be able to defend the outside a little better.”

Sophomore libero Maggie Eppright and redshirt freshman outside hitter Haylee Roberts helped provide some stability to the team in New York. Their performances landed them onto the Jack Kaiser Classic all-tournament team.

Eppright leads the team with 154 digs on the season, which ranks third in the Mountain West.

“I think we improved with our consistency for the most part, and staying mindful throughout the whole game has allowed us to beat certain teams 25-6, 25-8, 25-9,” Eppright said. “So it definitely showed us our potential and gave us a goal to reach every game.”

The team had a full week of practice after a busy span that included a mid-week game at Long Island University Brooklyn and seeing sights such as the Freedom Tower in New York.

“This week, we’ve been working on all the little things, [such as] the out of system balls that we’re not taking advantage of,” Netherby-Sewell said. “We’re working on one thing at a time and hoping that our performance will keep increasing as the weeks go on.”

Conference play begins on Sept. 25, but first the Bulldogs have their final nonconference road trip to Bakersfield.

“This weekend’s tournament I think we’re just hoping to come out and do what we did in New York against some very good teams and hold ourselves to the standard that we held ourselves to in New York,” Eppright said.

The four teams participating in the Roadrunner Classic along with the Bulldogs include Long Beach State (7-3), Oregon State (7-1) and host Cal State Bakersfield (3-7).

It’s a tougher task for the Bulldogs to prepare for nonconference opponents with little film available. They will continue to prepare for their opponents between games this weekend.

“We are grateful enough to get some film on these teams and start to learn the hitter tendencies from the previous matches of the tournament,” Eppright said. “It’s a little bit of a challenge to try to pick up on the tendencies throughout the game, and it’s just making us better volleyball players having to adjust to these every match.”

Fresno State will open the tournament today at noon against Long Beach State. The Bulldogs will then take on Oregon State later this evening at 5 p.m., and they wrap up the weekend against CSUB on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday’s game will conclude 14 consecutive games on the road before the Bulldogs host an exhibition game versus Fresno Pacific on Sept. 23.

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