NewsSwanson Notches 800th Win as Lady Cougars Take a Pair
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - Mount Vernon Nazarene University women’s volleyball coach Paul Swanson became the first NAIA coach and only the ninth active volleyball coach at the college level to record 800 career victories as the Lady Cougars defeated both Urbana University and nationally-ranked Walsh University on Saturday in an American Mideast Conference South Division tri-match in the Physical Education Center.
MVNU (21-9, 6-2 AMC South) got the day under way by rallying for a 24-30, 30-26, 30-19, 30-20 victory over Urbana (18-10, 3-5 AMC South). Junior middle hitter Shena Beheler led the Lady Cougars with 22 kills, two aces, and six blocks, while senior outside hitter Katie Ickes pounded 13 kills with three blocks. Senior setter/outside hitter Rachael Walpole contributed nine kills, 15 digs, and 43 assists, and freshman right-side hitter Courtney Springer contributed eight kills, three blocks, and 14 digs. Senior outside hitter Katie Vipperman posted a career-high seven blocks with 13 digs and two aces, while junior libero Tiffany Milburn tallied 20 digs. Sophomore middle hitter Lindsey Anderson also smashed seven kills.
"We were very flat to start out the day,” said Swanson. "However, we were able to battle back after the first game and get things rolling. (Urbana) is a good team who had already swept us this year, and I was glad to see that we were ready for the challenge this time.”
In MVNU’s other match, the Lady Cougars battled back to upset 22nd-ranked Walsh (22-2, 6-1 AMC South) 20-30, 30-28, 30-27, 30-26 to snap the Lady Cavaliers’ 17-match winning streak. Beheler blasted a career-high 28 kills in the match including 11 in the third game alone to go with five blocks and 12 digs, while Ickes finished with 11 kills. Walpole handed out 50 assists with five kills, four blocks, and three aces, and freshman middle hitter Stephanie Zollars contributed six kills and five blocks. Milburn posted 18 digs, while sophomore outside hitter Audrey Rider pounded five kills.
"We did not play well at all in the first game and we were down for much of the second game before battling back to win 30-28,” said Swanson. "Then, we used that momentum to carry us on and kept a margin in the final two games. Shena (Beheler) was outstanding today, and everyone did a great job of passing and working hard to get two wins over two very good teams.”
"These were two good wins for us,” said Beheler, who finished with 50 kills in 93 attempts on the day with only 14 attack errors. "Rachael (Walpole) did a great job of setting me, and our back row was doing a good job of passing the ball to her. Everyone contributed to these wins, and hopefully we can continue to build off of this.”
Swanson, who last week broke the previous NAIA career wins mark of 797 victories set by former Georgetown (Ky.) College coach Donna Hawkins, improved his career mark to 800-288 (.735 winning percentage) in 24 years at the NAIA level with the last 23 coming at MVNU. There are currently only eight other active coaches in all levels of college volleyball with 800 or more career wins.
"When I think about this milestone, I think of how much the Lord has blessed me and this program,” Swanson reflected after breaking the NAIA wins mark last week. "We have had so many great players and people come through this program over the years, and this milestone is really a culmination of all of their contributions and hard work. Reaching a certain number of wins has never been something that I have set out to do. I have always wanted to see my players grow and achieve great things both on and off the court, and reaching this mark reminds me of so many great things that have happened in the lives of the players and their families over the years.”
MVNU will return to action on Tuesday when the Lady Cougars will travel to Tiffin University for another AMC South Division match that will begin at 7:00 p.m.
NAIA All-Time Coaching Wins List (through Oct. 7, 2006)
school left NAIA after this year