Of the 17 Titans who make up Fullerton’s roster, four of them will graduate before the 2018 season, and thus step into Titan Gym for the last time this weekend.
Holding a 1-10 record in conference play, Cal State Fullerton volleyball will gear up for its final two matches in the 2017 season against UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly on Nov. 17 and 18 at 7p.m.
The four veterans on the team have realized their final moments of being a Titan are fast approaching and their contributions on the team are left with the underclassmen.
Setter Katie Roux and outside hitter Katelyn Nielsen were two of the six athletes who remained on the squad during the coach its change back in 2015. Titans Head Coach Ashley Preston is grateful the two seniors decided to grow with the new team.
“To see Katelyn and Katie just continue to stick with the program and understand there’s going to be growth … That’s tremendous,” Preston said. “Our relationship has grown. Those two, they know me like the back of their hands.”
Roux has appeared in all 21 matches this season, with nine starts, for a total of 76 sets, in which has made only two errors. She is the fifth highest in digs (147) and assists (16) on the Titans roster.
“I’m thankful for the coaches for 100 percent believing in me to be a Division I athlete,” Roux said. “I’m really excited to move out of the volleyball world.”
Before Preston took over the CSUF program, Nielsen started for the Titans. She made her starting debut for the 2017 season under Preston on Oct. 14 in the match against UC Davis where she was the second highest scorer for the Titans.
“I went through a coaching change. We went through tough seasons and being able to stick to it and making on the other side of that adversity is going to help me in life,” Nielsen said.
Outside hitters Kyra Hill and Shimen Fayad were recruited the same year Preston was assigned the head coach title.
Hill appeared in 11 matches in her junior year and earned a career high of 11 kills against Weber State. However, an unforeseen injury before the 2017 season halted her career until she recovered. With Hill missing from the lineup the entire season, the Titans hope to give her one last chance to step on the court as a Titan before the official closure of conference play.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able have her serve for the last match of her career,” Preston said.
Fayad, also known as Preston’s “wild child,” was present in 22 matches and offered the Titans 114 kills. She finishes as the fourth highest in kills with 127 points and total attacks (379) on Fullerton’s roster.
“I just want my family to be here, to be able see me play,” Fayad said. “I’m a first generation (student) so it’s a big deal for them for me to have finished this without quitting when I could have.”
Although the four Titans will not make any appearances starting in 2018, their contributions to the team’s season this year are still recognized despite the tough losses Fullerton continuously endured.
Following their only win in conference play, the Titans broke a 12-game losing streak against UC Riverside, only to fall back into another losing skid that left Fullerton in ninth place in the Big West.
The relatively young team continued to return to practice to work on its serve-receive and passing as it has been motivated to be the best in those skills in every match.
“We’ve worked on more getting more service aces and siding out at a faster and higher percentage,” Preston said.
The last time CSUF faced UCSB and Cal Poly, the matches were dominated by the opponents which led to 3-0 sweeps in late September.
Though the outcome of the season was not what Preston had expected, she is grateful for the growth the underclassmen showed that would prepare them for the next season.
“That’s one of the positive takeaways that we had,” Preston said. “We had a lot of five-set matches that just didn’t go our way, but that shows that we’re competitors and we’re being tough.”
The results of their season was not what the Titans hoped for, but they value the growth they saw within the season and the seniors acknowledge the opportunities and memories they were given through the program.
“I’m just looking forward to put on my Titans jersey for the last two times,” Nielsen said.