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  • Writer's pictureJason

We Have To Talk About Fresno State

Updated: May 24


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Fresno State won the Mountain West conference tournament yesterday and punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament. While this might not seem like a huge deal at all, you need to understand the context as to why this is such an impressive accomplishment. To understand that we have to go back over the last couple of seasons.


They are currently on their 3rd coach in 3 years:

Windsor - 2021

Wright - 2022

Rosen - 2023


Program Records over the last 3 years:


2021

12-14 overall; 8-10 in conference


2022

7-23 overall; 1-14 in conference


2023

19-13 overall; 10-8 in conference


Now there are probably 0 people that put Fresno State into the running as a conference champion or even the NCAA tournament, but that's where they are. There are two other things that are impressive about this accomplishment, in my opinion.


First, they did it with the same roster. That's right. The new coaching staff that came for the 2023 season kept the same athletes that were on the 2022 roster. The same group of athletes went from a 7-23 record to a 19-13 record. No one got cut, as far as I can tell. No transfers incoming. 4 new freshmen were the only additions and only 1 of them (a DS) getting any sort of real playing time.


Second, looking past their record and looking at some individual matches, it could make you wonder how they got this far at all! But, that's volleyball right? Every time you step foot on the gym floor, you have an opportunity to beat someone. They lost to Southern Utah in the preseason (6-20); They split with Cal State Northridge (6-23).


What really matters is the conference season though, right? They lost to SJSU (didn't make the conference tournament), twice; they lost to Air Force (didn't make the tournament) twice; they lost to Boise State (#4) twice; they beat UNLV (#3) and New Mexico (#6) twice and beat Colorado State (#2) in their only meeting of the conference season.


Fresno State ended up as the #5 seed in their tournament (it looks like that win against CO State was HUGE for them). They had to beat Boise State and did. A team they had lost to twice in the season. They ended up facing the #1 see in Utah State, a team they had lost to twice during the season and beat them. In the final match of the conference tournament they faced off against Colorado State (again) and beat them in 5 as they had done a few weeks prior.


Huge congrats to them! I think it was the red and white checkered arm sleeves.





What does this have to do with recruiting?


Oh right! I like talking about underdogs :)


I hear from parents and athletes a statement similar to these below:


"We are interested in them, they aren't very good"


"We'd like to play for a winning program..."


But what a difference a year makes!


How many athletes and schools passed on Fresno State because they "weren't good" or because they wanted to play for a "better program"? Now that team is playing in the NCAA tournament.

Conference championship ring?

Trip to the NCAA tournament?

Being 1 of 64 teams left playing in the country?

Who wants that?


Everyone.


Look, it's completely understandable to want to play for a successful program as you're going through your recruiting process. Maybe, just maybe, think about what impact you COULD have on various teams. It takes a lot of grit and resilience to go from 1 conference win, to winning your conference tournament the next year. Be an athlete that wants to help create that kind of environment in a program.


What schools and conferences could you make an impact on as you help another school do what Fresno State just did? That's a great place to start when you're talking about creating your recruiting list.


Congrats on a fantastic season, Fresno State!



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