Finding the right place to call home is not always easy but was possible for one volleyball player at Fresno State.
Desiree Suhkov grew up in Murrieta, California, with her parents, Alex and Jody, and three older brothers. Her hometown was small, she said, but she loved living there, “It was awesome, actually, I wouldn’t have asked for a better place to grow up.”
Suhkov said that the community was very involved and because the city was small, all of the people in that community knew each other and were friends.
Aside from the city being a welcoming community, volleyball was also something that was very big there. She said that the competitive level of volleyball there is really high but she didn’t get into volleyball until her freshman year.
“I started playing volleyball around my freshman year of high school,” Suhkov said. “So, I was kind of a late bloomer. Most people usually start much younger, but I started at like 14 or 15.”
Suhkov’s talent on the volleyball court earned her a spot on the varsity team her sophomore year in high school.
She finished her high school career earning second team all-league, offensive team All-Southwestern League honors and winning team MVP as a junior and senior. She also led her team to the CIF playoffs in all four seasons.
Outside of school, Suhkov also played for two volleyball clubs in Murrieta, Forza 1 and Viper Temecula. She earned MVP honors at the Junior Olympics in 2017.
All that talent was seen by schools, and she began to get scholarship offers from universities, like Wake Forest, the University of California, Irvine, Cal State LA, the University of California, San Diego, CSU Bakersfield and Portland State University.
When it finally came time to decide, she went with CSU Bakersfield.
“At the time, I thought it was the best thing for me as far as the level of play,” Suhkov said. “It was also close to home, which I thought was super important because I’m super family oriented and I wanted to stay closer to my family.”
In her first year at Bakersfield, she recorded 11 double-doubles and led her team to the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) title and an NCAA tournament appearance.
But she wasn’t happy in Bakersfield. She felt as if she wasn’t able to play at her full potential and most importantly, she didn’t feel like part of a family.
“I was super tentative and not free, and I didn’t want to make a mistake,” Suhkov said. “I wasn’t part of the true family. It was a little forced, and it was not natural.”
During her second year with the Roadrunners, she decided that it was time to find a better place to call home.
“There’s this new thing called the transfer portal, and when you decide to leave a school, you get put on this transfer portal and it tells the coaching staff where you’re from, where you’ve played and a bunch of details about you.” Suhkov said.
During this time, Suhkov began to speak with a recruiting coordinator from Murrieta. The recruiting coordinator and Suhkov were going back and forth talking about schools that were interested in her and schools she was interested in.
On one of those phone calls with the recruiting coordinator, she was told to expect a phone call from Fresno State. Fresno State was interested in talking with her about a potential career as a Bulldog.
“I was super excited and was like, ‘Oh my gosh! That’s cool.’” Suhkov said.
The very next day, she received a phone call from the assistant coach from Fresno State, Maggie Eppright, and they just hit it off, she said.
“The best thing about that was, on the phone, she wasn’t just talking about volleyball. She really wanted to know the core me and everything about me and my family,” Suhkov said.
Suhkov got a sense of love, respect and family on that phone call. After that phone call, she knew that Fresno State was the right place to call home.
Suhkov said that one of her most prized accomplishments in her entire volleyball career was making it to Fresno State.
“Making it to Fresno State, I mean, when I was in Bakersfield and we won the WAC, hands down a great moment of my career,” Suhkov said. “But, obviously, I’m doing so much better as far as happiness and volleyball. So just committing here and saying those words on the phone, best moment ever.”