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The following article will highlight some of the top coaches in the sport of women's volleyball at the Division III level of the NCAA. It will include coaches who have since retired, left the division and gone to another level, or who are still coaching but as assistant coaches after lengthy terms as head coaches.
The article will include coaches with large numbers of wins, high winning percentages, or success at the national championships.
1. Teri Clemens
Clemens coached 14 years at Washington University in St. Louis and finished with a record of 529-77. She is one of the top coaches in the NCAA Division III record book for a career-winning percentage of .873. Clemens coached the Bears to seven NCAA Division III National Championships, including six consecutive titles from 1991–96.
She was named the Tachikara/AVCA Division III National Coach of the Year in 1991, 1994, and 1996. Her 1992 squad is the only NCAA Division III Tournament team to finish a full season with a perfect record (40-0). Clemens led the Bears to first-place finishes in the University Athletic Association 11 times in 14 years at Washington University.
Clemens served on the AVCA All-America Committee as the chair of the South Region and was an AVCA poll voter. She also served as the Division III representative on the AVCA Board of Directors from 1990–93. During her time on the board, the AVCA instituted the Division III national poll to provide publicity for schools playing at that level.
Prior to her years at Washington University, Clemens coached for six years at St. Louis' Incarnate Word Academy and accumulated a 155-15 record with three Missouri State championships in 1982, 1983, and 1984. She was inducted to her alma mater Truman State Hall of Fame in 1995.
2. Larry Bock
This one gets an asterisk, as Larry's still going strong at Navy.
Bock left Division III having compiled an overall record of 1,352-283-4 (82.6%) in 40 seasons as a collegiate volleyball head coach. That tally included a mark of 1,252-192 (86.7%) in 34 seasons as the head coach of the women's program at Juniata and a mark of 100-91-4 (52.3%) in six years as the head coach of the Juniata men's team. Including his two years at Navy, he has compiled an overall record of 1,369-321-4 (80.9%) and a women's mark of 1,269-230 (84.7%).
Bock has won 130 more matches than the coach with the next highest tally of victories and has recorded 100 more wins than the second-place coach on the women's side of the sport. Additionally, the winning percentage for his women's teams ranks seventh among all NCAA coaches who have at least 10 seasons of experience.
Juniata's women's teams won at least 30 matches in each of the last 31 seasons and surpassed 40 victories on 10 different occasions during this span. The Eagles compiled a staggering 358-14 record (96.2%) against conference foes, and they last dropped a match against a conference opponent in 1983. And while Juniata competes on the NCAA's Division III level, Bock's teams posted a 67-23 record against NCAA Division I programs during his tenure at the school.
Bock guided the Eagles to each of the 30 NCAA D-III Tournaments that have been contested. Juniata won NCAA titles in 2004 and 2006, appeared in a total of eight national championship matches, and advanced to the semifinal match of the national tournament in 14 of his last 15 seasons and 25 times in all. Juniata posted a 94-36 record in the NCAA Tournament under Bock.
Individually, Bock's players garnered 65 All-America certificates, four American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) National Player-of-the-Year awards, and one National Rookie-of-the-Year laurel. Additionally, five Juniata players received College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America accolades, two were selected as the organization's Academic All-American of the Year, and two received an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship.
On the men's side, Juniata won a trio of Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association divisional titles under Bock, who himself was tabbed as the EIVA D-III Coach of the Year in both 1993 and '94.
Bock has received nearly every possible coaching award available over the course of his career. He has been tabbed as the AVCA (D-III) National Coach of the Year five times and as the organization's region coach of the year on nine occasions. Here are a few of Bock's other accomplishments:
- Was a member of the AVCA's inaugural Hall of Fame Class (2003)
- Was elected as one of the two NCAA Silver Anniversary (D-III) Team Head Coaches (2006)
- Received the AVCA Founders Award for service to the sport (2000)
- Garnered the USA Volleyball Trailblazer Award (2006)
- Was selected as the 2009 recipient of the All-Time Great Coaches Award by USA Volleyball
He also served as Juniata's athletic director for over 15 years and was named the Division III Central Region Athletic Director of the Year in 2005.
3. Doug Dannevik
Dannevik was the head volleyball coach at UC San Diego from 1979–96. His list of accomplishments certainly merits addition to this list.
- Six NCAA D-III national championships (1981, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990)
- Won inaugural NCAA D-III Volleyball Championship (1981)
- Four NCAA D-III national runner-up finishes (1982, 1983, 1991, 1992)
- Two NCAA D-III national quarterfinal appearances (1993, 1994)
- Tritons qualified for NCAA postseason play in every season they were eligible under Dannevik
- Winningest coach in UCSD women’s volleyball history at 448-199 (.692)
- Two-time Volleyball Monthly Coach of the Year (1987, 1990)
- Four-time West Region Coach of the Year (1986, 1990, 1993, 1994)
- 20+ wins in 14 of his 17 seasons
- 30+ wins five times
- 42 wins in 1986 is a program record
- Coached six national Players of the Year and 31 All-Americans
- One of just four coaches among all NCAA divisions to win five or more national titles in women’s volleyball
- Coached the UCSD men’s volleyball team for three seasons (1994-96)
4. Kris Russell
This is another coach with an asterisk as Kris is still coaching as part of the Elmhurst staff, albeit as an assistant.
Russell served as head volleyball coach at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater from 1981–2004. In her tenure as head coach, Russell guided the Warhawks to 10 conference championships, 15 NCAA tournament appearances, five trips to the NCAA final four, two national runner-up finishes, and an NCAA Division III Championship during the 2002 season. She retired from coaching duties at UW-Whitewater following the 2004 season.
Russell compiled an impressive 812-231 record while at UW-Whitewater and retired as one of the top-10 winningest volleyball coaches in all of NCAA history. Among Division III coaches, Russell ranks third in all-time victories.
A four-time American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III National Coach, seven-time WIAC Coach of the Year, and five-time AVCA Central Region Coach of the Year, Russell coached over 50 all-conference and seven academic all-conference players. Russell's players also earned 43 All-America honors, including one NCAA National Player of the Year.
Russell served as a member of the faculty at UW-Whitewater from 1981–2008. She also served as the Warhawks' Senior Women's Administrator from 1998–2005.
Prior to coaching at UW-Whitewater, Russell served as the head girl's volleyball coach at Random Lake High School in Wisconsin. In her seven seasons at the helm of Random Lake, her teams won a pair of WIAA Class B State Championships.
5. Joan Sitterly
Sitterly joined SUNY Cortland in 1983 as a faculty member in the Department of Physical Education. One of the nation’s most successful women’s volleyball coaches, she guided the Red Dragons for 22 seasons from 1983-2004. Sitterly finished with an overall record of 816-234 and, at the time, became only the second coach in Division III women’s volleyball history to reach 800 career wins.
A seven-time American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) regional Coach of the Year and a seven-time State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Coach of the Year, Sitterly led Cortland to 18 NCAA Division III tournament appearances and 13 conference titles.
She was Cortland’s director of athletics from 2004-2010 and had two previous stints as the interim, overseeing a 25-sport program that ranked among the most successful on the Division III level. Cortland is one of just six schools among more than 400 in Division III to rank in the top 20 of the all-sports National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Directors’ Cup standings each of the past 14 years, including a third-place national finish in 2006-07 and fifth-place showings in 2008-09 and 2005-06.
A 1974 alumna of SUNY Brockport, Sitterly earned a master’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1979 and a Ed.D. from Syracuse University in 1996. She was inducted into Brockport's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.
6. Rich Leunemann
Luenemann compiled a 480-62 (.886) overall record in 14 seasons at WUSTL and won three NCAA Division III national championships (2003, 2007, 2009). He also guided WUSTL to nine University Athletic Association (UAA) championships and 14 postseason appearances, including six trips to the NCAA title match.
Luenemann coached 47 NCAA Division III All-Americans at WUSTL, and three of his players earned College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-America honors. He was tabbed as the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division III National Coach of the Year on three occasions (2003, 2007 and 2009), and also earned UAA Coaching Staff of the Year honors five times.
Luenemann came to WUSTL from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill., where he compiled an 18-year record of 590-262 (.692) and coached the Fighting Saints to the NAIA Tournament seven times. He coached 15 NAIA All-Americans at St. Francis, and eight of his players were named NAIA Scholar-Athletes.
Luenemann is the fifth coach in NCAA history to eclipse 1,000 career victories, compiling a 1,070-324 (.768) record in 32 seasons on the sideline.
7. Joel Dearing
Joel B. Dearing retired from Springfield after the 2010 season from a 30 year and 40 season (combining women’s & men’s teams) collegiate coaching career. He remains full time on the Springfield College (MA) faculty, teaching full-time in the athletic administration graduate program. During his coaching tenure at Springfield College, Dearing established his program as one of the best in the nation. He finished with a 728-310 career record and .710 winning pct. for his women’s teams which ranks in the top 10 in NCAA Division III history.
- AVCA Regional Coach of the Year: 1993, 1994, 1996, 2003,2008
- USA Volleyball Level III Certification
- Member of USA Volleyball CAP (Coaching Accreditation Program) CADRE (National Faculty)
- Has coached 10 All-Americans at Springfield
- Also coached Springfield men’s team from 1990-96 and led 1996 SC Men’s Team to end of season #1 National Ranking
- International Clinician in Ireland, Aruba, Bermuda, China, Argentina
Author: Volleyball Fundamentals Published in June, 2003 by Human Kinetics and William G. Morgan – Inventor of Volleyball Published in November, 2007 by WingSpan Press.
8. Lisa Herb
Herb compiled a 626-208 record (.751 winning percentage) in her 22 years at Eau Claire and coached 1,086 career matches in 28 years, finishing with a 789-297 career mark (.726). She started the 2006 season as the third-winningest coach in Division III, trailing only Larry Bock of Juniata, Pennsylvania who currently has 1,100 wins and Rich Luenemann of Washington University, Missouri, who has 871 wins.
Herb will rank third among Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) coaches for wins while at a UW school and second in all-time wins behind Kris Russell of UW-Whitewater who went 812-231 in 24 seasons. Marty Petersen of UW-Oshkosh amassed a 630-368 record in 22 seasons at UW-Oshkosh
Under Herb the Blugolds advanced to nine NCAA post-season tournaments. Eau Claire finished 9-9 overall in NCAA play but compiled a 6-3 record in its last three tournament appearances in 1997, 2005 and 2006. The Blugolds advanced to the Sweet Sixteen seven times, reaching that round in 1987, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1997, 2005 and 2006.
Eau Claire won WIAC championships in 1987 and 2006. The Blugolds finished second in the regular season standings in 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1997 while placing third in 1985, 1992, 1993, 1996 and 2005.
With Herb as head coach the Blugolds posted winning records in 21 of her 22 seasons. Eau Claire finished 52-3 in 1987 which is the second-most match wins ever recorded by a WIAC school in one season. The Blugolds also notched a 42-14 record in Herb’s second Eau Claire season in 1986. During Herb’s tenure, the Blugolds have posted nine 30-plus win seasons and 20 20-plus win seasons.
As the Blugold head coach, Herb produced 15 All-Americans. Only UW-Whitewater with 32 and UW-Oshkosh with 18 produced more over the same time frame. The Blugolds have received the most All-Americans among WIAC schools in the last two years as five players have achieved that honor.
Before Herb’s arrival, only three Blugolds received All-Conference status. In the last 22 years, Eau Claire has had 70 first team, honorable mention or all-defensive honors. Forty-eight Blugolds have been named to the first team in addition to 17 honorable mentions and five all-defensive recipients. Only Whitewater has received more all-conference honors during that time with 76.
With the University of Dubuque
Prior to her arrival in Eau Claire, Herb spent six seasons as the head coach at the University of Dubuque, Iowa. During her stint at Dubuque, the Spartans went 163-89, winning the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) championship in 1982 with a second in 1983. Herb’s 1982 team still holds school records for best season record at 46-5, matches won at 46 and most service aces with 384.
In six seasons, seven Spartans received all-conference honors with two winning IIAC Player of the Year honors and one Academic All-District honoree. Herb was inducted into the University of Dubuque Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001 and her 1982 team was inducted in 2004.
Herb inherited an Eau Claire program that had won 100 matches in 10 seasons and an overall record of 6-65 in the two previous seasons. Herb went on to win 32 matches in her first season. She was named the WIAC Coach of the Year in 1997 and 2006.
9. Stephanie Schleuder
Following a distinguished 34-year collegiate head coaching career, Macalester volleyball coach Stephanie Schleuder retired from coaching. Macalester’s volleyball coach for 12 years, Schleuder retired with 702 career victories to rank among the all-time leaders in the college ranks.
Schleuder began her head coaching career at Bemidji State University in 1972. She was head coach at the University of Alabama from 1974-81 and head coach at the University of Minnesota from 1982-94 and became the Macalester coach in 1998.
Schleuder was president of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) from 2002-04 and was the only non-Division I coach ever to be elected president of the 3,800-member national coaches association.
In addition to serving as president of the AVCA, Schleuder has played several leadership roles with USA Volleyball. She received the Karen Johnson Human Relations Award from USA Volleyball for her work on behalf of volleyball and in 2007 received a Boyce Award from USA Volleyball Foundation, winning a George J. Fisher Leader in Volleyball Award. Since its inception Schleuder has served as a Cadre Instructor in the Coaches Accreditation Program (CAP). In 1990 she coached the North Team to the Gold Medal in the U.S. Olympic Festival.
10. Mary Frances Heishman
Mary Frances Heishman played three sports—basketball, field hockey and tennis—during her time as a student at Bridgewater College. It was during her years as a coach at her alma mater where she made a lasting impression as one of the most successful coaches in the College’s history.
Heishman coached lacrosse at Bridgewater from 1971-87, finishing with a 119-113-5 record. She was named ODAC Coach of the Year in 1987.
It was on the volleyball court where Heishman became one of the most successful coaches in the nation. She established the volleyball program in 1975 and coached until 2008, compiling a record of 653 wins and 268 losses. The 653 wins ranks eighth all-time in Division III.
Her teams had 27 winning seasons, captured five ODAC titles and made three trips to NCAA tournament play. Coach Heishman was named ODAC Coach of the Year seven times and South Region Coach of the Year in 1988 when the Eagles finished with a 33-2 record. She coached seven ODAC Players of the Year and 37 first-team All-ODAC players.
Following graduation from BC, Heishman received a master’s in health and physical education from James Madison University. She earned a doctorate in motor learning with specialties in sports psychology and health from the University of Virginia.
Heishman also serves as a professor in the College’s Department of Health and Exercise Science. In 2010 she was awarded the Martha B. Thornton Faculty Recognition Award.
11. Marty Petersen
Petersen retired from coaching in 2004 after a distinguished 22-year career that included 630 wins, five Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) championships and three National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Final Four appearances.
Petersen replaced Betty Ralston as the head women's volleyball coach at UW-Oshkosh in 1983. The 1975 UW-Oshkosh graduate guided her alma mater to a 630-368 record (.631 winning percentage), including 12 30-plus win seasons. The Titans reached 40 wins six times under Petersen's guidance, going 42-21 in 1984, 41-20 in 1988, 44-5 in 1990, 42-8 in 1991, 41-5 in 1995 and 40-5 in 1996.
UW-Oshkosh qualified for NCAA Division III postseason play nine times during Petersen's tenure, highlighted by a second-place finish in 1994 and fourth-place finishes in 1991 and 1996. The Titans also competed in the NCAA Division III Championship in 1990, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2000 and 2001 and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Tournament in 1988 and 1989.
In the WIAC, Petersen led UW-Oshkosh to league titles in 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995 and 2001. The Titans also finished second in 1993.
Petersen has been honored as a coach of the year award winner four times during her UW-Oshkosh reign. She was named NCAA Division III Coach of the Year by Asics in 1994 and 1996 and WIAC Coach of the Year in 1990 and 1996.
Collectively, members of the UW-Oshkosh women's volleyball program have combined to receive 14 NCAA Division III All-America, one NAIA All-America and 38 All-WIAC selections under Petersen's leadership. Among the honorees is Amy Ward, who was named the NCAA Division III Player of the Year in 1996, and three-time All-Americans Amy Cayemberg (1989-91) and Christina Southward (1999-2001).
12. Jean Lojko
Lojko, who served as the head volleyball coach at Greensboro for 31 years, accumulated an overall record of 649-446. Greensboro volleyball earned national rankings during four seasons and regional rankings during 14 seasons. The program also claimed the conference regular season title eight times, while winning the tournament title an additional four times.
In addition, Lojko previously coached the women's basketball and women's tennis teams at Greensboro College. On the administrative side, Lojko served as Associate Athletics Director at the College from 2002-2009 and Athletics Director from 2009-2012. She had been the department's Senior Woman Administrator and was elevated to Associate Professor of Physical Education in 2006.
13. Margaret 'Peg' Worthington
Worthington coached the Gallaudet women's volleyball team for 26 years (1970-81, 1984-97) and compiled a 615-305 record. She led the Bison to the NCAA tournament twice (1985, 1996), three Capital Athletic Conference championships (1992, '95, '96), four Chesapeake Women's Athletic Conference championships (1984, '85, '86, '87), three berths into the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national tournament.
Her 1981 team was ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation; it was the first national ranking in program history. She was named CAC Coach of the Year in back-to-back seasons (1995, '96) and was the 1996 Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year. Worthington was Gallaudet's Senior Woman Administrator for nine years and served as Assistant Athletic Director for three years.
14. Susan Roberts
Roberts, who retired after the 2013 season, guided Grove City to 13 20-win seasons and seven total postseason appearances. Roberts owns a 583-424 (.579) record as Grove City head coach. She earned her 500th win as Grove City head coach Sept. 18, 2007, as the Wolverines defeated Penn State Behrend.
Roberts became Grove City College's all-time leader in total coaching wins Oct. 28, 2008, when the Wolverines downed Bethany. She has 734 wins as a head coach at Grove City.
On October 5, 2011, Roberts recorded her 600th win as a collegiate volleyball coach when the Wolverines earned a 3-2 win at Waynesburg. Overall, she has a 635-448 career record in 30 years as a head volleyball coach.
Roberts made an immediate impact on the Grove City program, leading Grove City to a 41-1 record in 1985, including the program's first PAC title and a berth in the NCAA Championship Tournament.
Roberts earned the Collegiate Volleyball Coaches Association's Division III Coach of the Year award following the 1985 season.
Grove City finished the regular season ranked No. 1 nationally in the AVCA poll that year. Grove City closed the 1980s as the PAC's dominant program, winning conference titles in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1989.
That dominance continued into the 1990s as the Wolverines won conference crowns in 1992, 1993 and 1995.
15. Jennifer King Soderquist
King Soderquist, a 1977 graduate of Wheaton College, was named the head coach of the Wheaton volleyball program in 1986. She served in that capacity at her alma mater for 27 seasons and spent 30 years total coaching in the college ranks.
In her 30 seasons as a collegiate volleyball coach, King Soderquist compiled a career record of 641-568. Her 641 career wins is 14th all-time among NCAA Division III head volleyball coaches and she concluded the 2012 season ranked eighth all-time in victories among active Division III head coaches.
In 27 seasons at Wheaton, King Soderquist compiled a record of 611-509, guiding Wheaton to a CCIW Championship in 1989. She led Wheaton to a pair of NCAA Division III Volleyball Tournament appearances, as the program reached the postseason in both the 1987 and 1989 seasons. Her teams have finished in the top-three at the CCIW Tournament 11 times and have compiled a total of 17 seasons of 20 or more wins. Three of her student-athletes have earned All-American recognition and nine have been selected as All-Region honorees.
16. Floretta Crabtree
Crabtree, the first coach in the history of Eastern Connecticut State women's volleyball, retired after 22 seasons.
When Crabtree retired, she had the second-most coaching victories in the university's athletics history and was the winningest coach in New England collegiate women's volleyball. Crabtree coached 919 matches, winning 616 against 295 losses for a winning percentage of 67.6.
After instituting the women's volleyball program in 1975, Crabtree led the Warriors to postseason tournaments every season beginning in 1977.
Crabtree was named New England Region coach of the year in 1995. She served as chair of the NCAA Division III New England regional advisory committee since its inception.
Crabtree was named to the Eastern Connecticut State faculty in 1971 after coaching and teaching on the high-school level in Michigan and New York. She earned her bachelor's degree from Keene State and her master's degree from Cortland State.
17. Gale Lackey
In 37 years at Wesleyan, Gale has compiled a 464-396 mark over her 29 seasons with the volleyball team. Gale joined the Wesleyan staff in 1978 after spending a year coaching volleyball at the University of Bridgeport. With 13 wins there, Gale has a lofty 490 victories in her career, which ranks among the national leaders in Division III. Prior to her stint at Bridgeport, Gale coached volleyball at Spring Grove (Pa.) High School for seven years. She is a 1970 graduate of West Chester (Pa.), and later earned her M. Ed. degree there.
Named 2001 NESCAC Coach of the Year after guiding her squad to a best-ever 30-6 record, a first-place regular-season finish in the NESCAC with a 9-1 mark, and a first-ever invitation to the NCAA Division III tournament, Gale had taken her 2000 squad to an ECAC North Region Division III title. In between, Gale arranged for her squad to embark on a memorable trip to Cuba during the winter break in January 2001. There her team competed against a Cuban junior national team. Her teams have posted nine winning seasons over the last 15 years with a collective 230-167 mark (a .579 winning percentage).
Gale, who holds the rank of adjunct professor of physical education at the college, is the athletic department's senior woman administrator and was named an associate director of athletics in 2001. Gale has Stage 1 level international coaching certification from the FIVB and was inducted in the Connecticut Volleyball Hall of Fame in November 2010.
Gale formerly coached the field hockey team at Wesleyan from 1978 through 1984, directing the 1980 squad to the only undefeated (8-0-3) record in program history and a spot in the Wesleyan Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011. She also coached the women's lacrosse team for 19 seasons (1979-1997).
18. Sheila Wallace-Kovalchik
Wallace-Kovalchik coached the Ohio Northern volleyball team from 1969 to 1990 and finished her career with 569 wins and 196 losses. She led the team to 10 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, highlighted by a national runner-up finish in 1989. She had 12 straight seasons with 30 or more wins, and she was named OAC Coach-of-the-Year three times.
© 2014 JOC
JOC (author) from Syracuse, NY on February 08, 2015:
Good catch, a little before my time, but definitely belongs in this group.
Don Shaw on February 07, 2015:
This article omitted the DIII coach with whom the conversation should begin. Before Teri Clemens began her run of championships in '89, Doug Dannevik of UC San Diego had already won 5! Before he finished, Doug had won 6 DIII championship to go along with 4 runner-up finishes in a 12 year span from '81-'92.
JOC (author) from Syracuse, NY on November 11, 2014:
Still active in Division III, so she is not past yet. She's on my list of the top D3 Coaches currently.
Tammy Courtney on November 11, 2014:
Take a look at Julie Jenkins:
Coach Jenkins was elected the SCAC Co-Volleyball Coach of the Year for the 12th time in her 30-year tenure with the Tigers. Jenkins is one of just four coaches in SCAC history to earn Coach of the Year 10 or more times in a single sport. Jenkins is the winningest active coach in Division III, amassing more than 800 wins in her career