Bulldog spikers earn respect on campus

FRESNO, Calif.

"The only reason they're here is because they love the sport," said head coach Brian Tsukimura. "I mean they have to pay and pay. All their trips. All their travel."

But what the Bulldog men's club volleyball team does have is a passion for the game, a love for competition, and unrivaled team chemistry.

"None of the guys here get paid to play," said Bullard grad Hunter Knight. "They don't get scholarships. We all play just because we love to play. We pay money for it and have a great time. We enjoy each other's company."

The 2009 national collegiate club champions have come out on fire this season, winning 19 of their first 20 matches, and both tournaments they've entered.

"When you put them together it's like they become this working machine that's able to overcome almost anything that's thrown at them," said Tsukimura.

And the Bulldogs fear no one. They took down Orange Coast College in last weekend's Far Westerns Tournament final, despite the Pirates being a favorite to win a JUCO state title this season.

"It came down to we had more heart than the other team," said Knight. "We were willing to work harder than them. We were able to make plays when it counted the most."

"I've never been so proud of a bunch of guys just gutting it out," said Tsukimura. "Pure just gutting it out. They could barely walk when they were done. They can barely walk now."

All accomplished by a group of nine Fresno and Clovis natives, and one Honduran. They might not have varsity status, but it hasn't stopped these Bulldogs from representing the school, and the community, all the way to the top.

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