FRESNO STATE - The resurgence of the Fresno State volleyball program garnered notice with the selection of the Bulldogs to finish third during the upcoming 2010 season in the Western Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, which marks the highest predicted finish in the poll since 2004.
"We're gaining momentum and respect within the conference. I like this," head coach Lauren Netherby-Sewell said of her program. "Many of teams like Boise State have similar momentum and will be tough to compete with. Nevada and Utah State have an experienced team coming back. But I suppose our fast-track rebuilding has earned notice and I'm humbled. We look forward to working with high-expectations. We thrive off of that."
The coaches also honored Fresno State's Brianna Clarke as one of 12 student-athletes on the 2010 Preseason All-WAC team. Clarke, a native of Clovis, Calif. and attended Buchanan High School, enters her junior season after two impressive seasons in a Bulldog uniform. She became the first Bulldog since 2003-04 to earn back-to-back All-WAC honors as a member of the 2009 Second-Team All-WAC and 2008 All-WAC Freshman team.
"I congratulate Bri on earning consistent respect within the conference season after season," Netherby-Sewell said of Clarke. "My excitement for her isn't the potential of winning another award, but the drive she's found this summer to reach her personal best and help this team compete for a championship."
Hawai'i, the 14-time defending WAC champion and advanced to the 2009 NCAA Final Four, was picked as the conference favorite with eight first-place votes. New Mexico State received the other first-place nod, as coaches cannot vote for their own team. Hawai`i earned 64 total points and New Mexico State tallied 57 points. Fresno State followed as the pick to finish third with 44 points with Utah State fourth at 38 points. Boise State was tabbed to grab fifth with 35 points, while Idaho was selected sixth with 32 points, just ahead of Nevada with 30 points in seventh place. Louisiana Tech and San Jose State rounded out the poll with 15 and nine points, respectively.
Fresno State's third-place selection is the highest predicted finish in the annual poll since the coaches tabbed the `Dogs to finish second in 2004. The Bulldogs are fresh off an appearance in the 2009 WAC Tournament Semifinals and will begin Netherby-Sewell's third season at Fresno State when the `Dogs host the Fresno State Classic on Aug. 27-28 in the Save Mart Center.
"The buzz amongst our staff and players is intoxicating," Netherby-Sewell added of her excitement for the start of the season. "We're chomping at the bit to get in the gym and continue our preparation for conference play. The curiosity of the impact our new blood will have on this team is eating at me. It's an exciting time."
The WAC coaches also honored Hawai`i junior Kanani Danielson as the unanimous pick for WAC Preseason Player of the Year. The 2010 WAC Volleyball Tournament will be held Nov. 22-24 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and will include the top six teams in the regular-season standings. The championship match will be televised live on ESPNU.
Bulldog fans can meet the team, get autographs and take pictures on Thursday night at the Farmers' Market area at River Park.
The `Dogs arrive back on campus Monday, Aug. 9 for the start of camp before classes begin Aug. 23.
2010 WAC Preseason Coaches' Poll
Rank - Team (First-Place Votes) - Points
1 - Hawai`i (8) - 64
2 - New Mexico State (1) - 57
3 - Fresno State - 44
4 - Utah State - 38
5 - Boise State - 35
6 - Idaho - 32
7 - Nevada - 30
8 - Louisiana Tech - 15
9 - San Jose State - 9
2010 Preseason All-WAC Team
Player - Yr. - Pos. - School
Lindsay Baldwin - Sr. - MB - Nevada
Kelsey Brennan - Jr. - MH - New Mexico State
Brianna Clarke - Jr. - MB - Fresno State
Kanani Danielson - Jr. - OH - Hawai`i
Jennah DeVries - Jr. - S - New Mexico State
Kayleigh Giddens - Sr. - OH - New Mexico State
Kylie Harrington - Sr. - OH - Nevada
Brittany Hewitt - So. - M - Hawai`i
Dani Mafua - Sr. - S - Hawai`i
Sadie Maughan - Sr. - MB - Boise State
Kelsey Taylor - Sr. - MB - Idaho
Whitney Woods - Sr. - OH - New Mexico State
Preseason Player of the Year
Kanani Danielson, Jr., Hawai`i