Setting an example

Smoothly moving underneath a poorly dug volleyball, star setter Dominique Fradella casually lofts a perfect assist to senior middle blocker Michele Segun, who slams a kill into the center of the Stott Center court during practice.

Smoothly moving underneath a poorly dug volleyball, star setter Dominique Fradella casually lofts a perfect assist to senior middle blocker Michele Segun, who slams a kill into the center of the Stott Center court during practice.

This is typical for the accomplished sophomore, who continues her stellar freshman year by winning the first Big Sky Player of the Week of 2007 after compiling 99 assists, 10 kills and a .533 hitting percentage in three matches.

“She has something special,” said Jeff Mizzochi, assistant head coach. “She continually makes everyone around her better. She has an even temperament, which is exactly what you want from your setter or point guard or quarterback.”

Fradella arrived at Portland State and hit summer workouts hard in 2006, proving to the coaching staff that she deserved to be in the starting lineup as a freshman.

“She came in early and established herself and after a few weeks of training there was no questioning who to start,” Mozzochi said.

Fradella led the Big Sky as a freshman, with 13.27 assists per game. She was instrumental in the Vikings’ placing second in the Big Sky in kills, with 16.06 per game, as well as recording the fourth-best in hitting percentage with a .207 average.

She learned she could handle the job last year by leaning heavily on Big Sky Most Valuable Player Jessica Brodie and star outside hitter Jessica Frederick. Now, with both departing after stellar senior seasons, Fradella’s abilities will really be tested.

So far she’s passing with flying colors.

“In all my years of coaching, she is hands down the most coachable player I have ever worked with,” said head coach Michael Seemann.

Fradella, or Nique (pronounced Nicky) as she is known as by her teammates, made a big impression when Seemann scouted her in 2005. Before long, she was telling him which offense she best fits into, how she runs the floor while setting and displaying specific knowledge above most high school recruits.

“When I looked at the things that she had accomplished during high school, I was interested, but when I got to see her run a game and talk to her afterwards is when I decided that I 100-percent wanted her to come to PSU,” Seemann said.

The Lake Arrowhead, Calif., native started playing sports in fifth grade. She excelled at both volleyball and softball during her youth and attributes a lot of her athletic success to her father, a former international baseball player who played regularly in Italy. After choosing volleyball as her primary sport, Fradella played in the highly competitive Southern California club teams, which Seemann considers only a half step below Division I Volleyball.

“Nique is one of those players that has a lot of passion and desire and love of the game,” Seemann said.

Seemann considers Fradella an extended coach on the court and is ecstatic about where she will guide the team.

“I joke about it all the time, but for me to take any credit for her success would be false,” Seemann said. “She is one of those players that I can step away from and work on other areas of the team and know that she will be consistently doing what she needs to do.”

This year, Fradella will lead a raw set of outside hitters—including juniors Lindsey Steele and Jennifer Oney and sophomore Marija Vojnovic—into a grueling Big Sky schedule.

“She does everything right as a leader,” Mozzochi said. “Even the little stuff like calling her teammates to check in, she’s a great student and just an overall great representative of the team.”

Fradella has performed well, though her decision to come to Portland State was not easy. She didn’t make her final decision until September of her senior year—which is generally late for college athletes to commit. The biggest issue being that Portland is very far from her beloved family.

“Family is super important to me,” Fradella said. “My mom and I are really close, we talk on the phone everyday. It is really hard being so far from them.”

She has overcome her longing for family by creating another family with her teammates. She currently lives with Vojnovic and sophomore middle blocker Erika Jespen. The trio has summer movie nights, where the entire team piles into their West Hall apartment to enjoy a flick.

Fradella’s future plans are to follow in her mother’s footsteps by becoming a nurse, if no international or beach volleyball teams are interested in her after college. But for now, she is excited to see what the volleyball team can do this year.

“What makes this year so exciting is we don’t have to rely on one player,” Fradella said. “We have a lot of depth at all of our positions and that will help me be able to mix up the offense.”

2007 Big Sky Schedule

Date           Opponent         Time
Sept. 13     Idaho State        7 p.m.
Sept. 15    Weber State        1 p.m.
Sept. 20    Montana         7 p.m.
Sept. 22    Montana State        7 p.m.
Sept. 27    Northern Arizona    7 p.m.
Sept. 29     Northern Colorado    7 p.m.
Oct. 5        Eastern Washington 1 p.m.
Oct. 9        Portland         7 p.m.
Oct. 12        Sacramento State    7 p.m.
Oct. 18        Weber State        7 p.m.
Oct. 20        Idaho State        7 p.m.
Oct. 25        Montana State    7 p.m.
Oct. 27        Montana         7 p.m.
Nov. 1        Northern Colorado    7 p.m.
Nov. 3        Northern Arizona    7 p.m.
Nov. 10    Eastern Washington     2 p.m.
Nov. 17    Sacramento State    7 p.m.

* Bold indicates a home game

2007 Volleyball Roster

#    Player                            Pos.     Ht.     Year
1    Savannah Reid           S          5’8”   So.
2    Christie Hamilton        MB       6’3”   Fr.
3    Tracy Vargas               MB       6’1”    Fr.
4    Lindsey Steele            OH       5’11”  Jr.
6     Jennifer Oney             MB       5’11”  So.
9     Marija Vojnovic          OH       5’9”     So.
10    Nicole    Bateham     DS       5’7”     Fr.
11    Dominique Fradella S          5’9”     So.
12    Jalen Pendon            DS       5’9”     Jr.
13    Andrea Brodie           OH       6’0”     Fr.   
14    Erica Jepsen              MB       6’0”     So.
16    Diana Villalpando     DS       5’5”     Fr.
22    Michelle Segun          MB       6’1″     Sr.
23    Jacqueline Thomas   DS       5’7”    Jr.

Players to watch

Jacqueline Thomas
Spanaway, Wash.

•    Replacing Sarah Sirianni as the team’s defensive specialist
•    Averaged 1.88 digs per game in 2006, fourth best on the team
•    Recorded 28 service aces last season, third among Viking players

Michelle Segun
Middle Blocker   
Salem, Ore.

•    The lone senior on a Viking roster that included four seniors last season
•    Will remain at middle blocker but can expect more offensive opportunities
•    Tallied 183 kills and was fourth in Big Sky in solo blocks with 26 last season

Lindsey Steele
Outside Hitter      
Loveland, Colo.

•    Averaged 2.46 kills per game and accumulated a total of 243 kills as a sophomore
•    Appeared in 100 games in 2006, one of six Vikings to surpass the century mark
•    Recorded six double-doubles—more than 10 digs and kills in a match—last season