Aztec graduate benefits from experience in Croatia

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Aubrey Folk is gearing up to be a vital part of the Fresno State volleyball team’s new up-tempo style of play on the court this fall.

She wants to be as well-rounded a player as possible to quickly acclimate to first-year coach Jonathan Winder’s vision for the Bulldogs.

“It’s an offense that requires patience and agility,” the 2015 Aztec volleyball graduate said. “It requires a fierce consistency with your footwork and your timing.”

The 6-foot-3 Folk already has a rocket for an arm to deliver quick strikes at the net.

“I’ve always valued my offense,” Folk said, adding the new system will allow her to move to her point of attack more freely and naturally.

But the changes didn’t end there for Folk, who will move from outside hitter to right-side hitter.

During a trip to Pula, Croatia, July 9-13 for the 14th annual Global Challenge, in which she played for the Mountain West Conference’s U23 team, she played in both the front and back rows. She realized she had to work on reading and reacting to hitters even quicker on defense, whether she’s at the net or falling back on that side of the floor.

“That’ll help me move quicker and anticipate the play,” Folk said. “The international play (in Croatia) is all about adaptability, your ability to read the ball and be flexible with what’s going on.”

Although she’s already tallied 412 total kills at Fresno State, Folk’s amassed just 120 total blocks and 64 total digs.

Folk said if she can get some extra stops on defense, it can also help her do more damage with counterattacks.

“She’s got a lot of potential still. She’s a good, long athlete. I know there’s a lot more to come,” Winder said. “She has some length and power that she can drive the ball a little bit to score and get our team out of some tough situations.”

Folk expects to have more well-rounded numbers while playing in a faster system in which being versatile can do wonders.

“The experience in Croatia will just help me with what’s to come,” Folk said.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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