With the four-set victory over Principia on Tuesday night, the Greenville women’s volleyball team collected its sixth straight regular season conference championship and third consecutive outright league title.
They have become the first volleyball program in SLIAC history to win six straight league titles, bettering the previous record of Fontbonne who won five straight from 2000-04.
The unprecedented run began in 2010 and included co-championships from 2010-12 before titles alone from 2013-15.
Over the last six seasons, Greenville has compiled a record of 139-47, a winning percentage of .747, and a 94-8 record in league competition for a winning percentage of .922
Greenville has hosted the conference tournament five times over that six year span, and this will be the fourth consecutive year of playing the tournament in Greenville.
The Lady Panther program qualified for the NCAA tournament as conference tournament champions in 2010, reached the SLIAC tournament finals in 2011 and 2012, and were SLIAC tournament semifinalists in 2013 and 2014. The 2010 team was the only women’s team in school history to qualify as a team for the NCAA tournament.
Led by four-time SLIAC coach of the year Tom Ackerman, this year’s squad has put together a record of 10-1 at home, only losing to Washington University who has spent time at No. 1 in the AVCA national poll. This was their sixth straight season of 20 or more wins.
"The shift in our culture started with our 2007 freshman class,” said Ackerman, who is second among Greenville women’s volleyball coaches in all time wins with a record of 255-148. “They were a special group of kids who were very driven to succeed from day one. They improved every year in their time here and they were able to get other players and coaches on board.”
After a third place regular season finish in 2009, the team reached the championship match of the SLIAC tournament and lost by two points to Webster in the fifth set.
“That loss sparked even more determination and drive, and that is when the culture shift happened,” said Ackerman. “Winning became the expectation, and the coaches and players have passed that tradition on over the years, leading us to where we are now.”
The last six seasons of Lady Panther volleyball have seen numerous women gain all-conference honors. Ten women earned first team all-conference honors, seven were on the second team, and five were honorable mention/third team selections.
Of these 22 all-conference recipients, two women earned the SLIAC player of the year awards – Jessica Dothager (2010) and Corinne Coon (2011) – and two were newcomer of the year – Coon (2010) and current student-athlete Allyson Mitchell (2014). Senior libero Jamie Schollenbruch was defensive player of the year in 2014.
The volleyball program has become the third program in school history that can boast of six or more straight conference titles. The men’s cross country program picked up 11 from 1995-2007, and the women’s cross country program won eight from 1995-2002.
With this accomplishment in their back pocket, Greenville prepares to host the conference tournament on Saturday, Nov. 7. They face Fontbonne at 2 p.m. in a semifinal, and a win places them in the championship match at 7 p.m. against the winner of Westminster and Webster.
STORY COURTESY OF GREENVILLE COLLEGE SPORTS INFORMATION OFFICE