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Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

Fresno State's student-run newspaper

The Collegian

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From last in the polls to first on the court

The Fresno State volleyball team wins first Mountain West Championship in program history.
The+Fresno+State+volleyball+team+celebrates+after+a+win+against+Wyoming+at+the+Save+Mart+Center+on+Oct.+21.+
Jacqueline Carrillo/The Collegian
The Fresno State volleyball team celebrates after a win against Wyoming at the Save Mart Center on Oct. 21.

Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. That’s a date the Fresno State women’s volleyball program will remember for years to come.

Fresno State narrowly avoided defeat, pulling off a reverse sweep against Colorado State to capture its first Mountain West Championship in program history.

It was a rough start for Head Coach Leisa Rosen and her team who were down the entire first set. Colorado State ultimately took the win 25-20.

The Bulldogs built up a 14-7 lead in the second set but were unable to hold it as the Rams cut the deficit and came back to win it.

After losing a seven-point lead and going down by two sets, it looked like Colorado State was on its way to a sweep and taking the Mountain West Championship.

Fresno State was down 2-0 and found itself in a big hole. However, the Bulldogs were poised to dig themselves out of it.

In a back-and-forth third set where the Bulldogs led by two points for most of the way, they fended off a persistent Rams offense to take it, 26-24.

Set No. 4 was even closer and saw the most dramatic moments of the match.

Colorado State was ahead of the Bulldogs by four points throughout the majority of the set, leading 21-17 near the end.

At this point, a Rams championship victory over Fresno State looked imminent.

Colorado State had three opportunities to score a match point after leading 24-22, 24-23, and 25-24.

Every point seemed like an endless rally, every huddle was an intense speech for Rosen, each attack was full of determination and every player dove at every ball on the court, hoping to pick up seemingly impossible digs.

The ‘Dogs kept battling and came back to win it 28-26,  forcing a fifth set.

Fresno State and Colorado State once again found themselves going back-and-forth, but eventually the Bulldogs gained the upper hand and found themselves leading 14-11, one point away from the title.

It was during this moment that Rosen called a timeout to gather her team for one last huddle.

The Rams won the next point coming out of the timeout. In the last play of the match, Colorado State’s defense attempted to keep the ball in play, knocking it out of bounds, giving the ‘Dogs the championship-winning match point.

The Fresno State players standing on the sideline rushed onto the court to join their teammates and celebrate the program’s first-ever Mountain West title.

Fresno State was predicted last in the preseason poll after winning only one match last year.

Libero and Freshman of the Year Dionii Fraga led the defense and picked up 16 digs, many of which were crucial to keep the Bulldogs in the match.

Setter Brooke Cowie, who was named the tournament’s MVP, kept the ball in play several times herself with 10 digs.

Middle blocker Grace Doyle was the defensive leader on the front line, getting five blocks to keep Colorado State’s attacks at bay.

Outside hitter Ella Rud was the team’s key offensive player in the match, leading the Fresno State offense with 20 kills. She also assisted on defense with 12 digs.

By winning the Mountain West Championship, Fresno State has earned a spot in the NCAA tournament.

It’ll be the Bulldogs’ first appearance in the tournament since 2002. Date, time and opponent are still to be determined.

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