Under the leadership of head coach Paul Swanson, the Mount Vernon Nazarene College women's volleyball team has become synonymous with success by compiling an impressive 441-183 record (.708 winning percentage) over the past fourteen seasons.
In the decade of the 1990s, MVNC has gained the reputation as one of the premier NAIA volleyball programs in the Great Lakes Region. The Lady Cougars have posted a 298-95 record (.758) during that time span. The team has also compiled a 91-8 home mark (.919) that includes an NAIA-record 70-match home winning streak which ended last season.
The 1997 season was no exception to MVNC's winning tradition as the Lady Cougars notched a 42-12 overall mark to tie the school record for second-most victories in a season. The team also finished second in the Mid-Ohio Conference with a 14-2 conference mark. That marked the sixth straight season that MVNC finished either first or second in the MOC.
The Lady Cougars also advanced to the semifinals of both the National Christian College Athletic Association National Tournament and the NAIA Great Lakes Region Tournament before losing to the eventual tournament champions in both events.
With only one senior graduating from the 1997 squad, Swanson has a lot to look forward to in 1998. Now, the horizon for the fall has an even bigger glow as Swanson has signed his three top recruits, Amanda Schumm, Andrea Rudd, and Deanna Stayman.
Schumm, a 5-foot-10 middle hitter from Rockford, Ohio, led Parkway High School to back-to-back Division III state volleyball titles during her junior and senior years. She was selected as a Division III Third Team All-Ohioan as a junior and a Second Team All-Ohioan following her senior season.
"Amanda is a high quality person and player," said Swanson. "She is a great fit for our institution and team, and we look for her to be a positive addition to our team. She has very fine all-around skills and comes from a great tradition of excellence (Parkway High School). We look for her to add to the excellence that this program strives for."
Rudd, a 5-foot-9 setter from Wilmington, Ohio, led her team to an 80-14 record and three straight Fort Ancient Valley Conference titles as a four-year starter. As a senior, she was selected as the unanimous FAVC Player of the Year and named a Division II Third Team All-Ohioan.
"Andrea is a first-class person and player," said Swanson. "She comes from a very strong high school experience being a four-year starter in a very successful program (Wilmington High School). She will compete and help us at the all-important setting position."
"We (the returning players and I) are excited about the unique blend of characteristics that Andrea brings to our team," Swanson added. "She has strong volleyball skills, good height for a setter, a committed Christian lifestyle, and a pleasant personality."
Stayman, a 5-foot-4 outside hitter/backrow specialist from Greencastle, Pennsylvania, was a four-time All-Mason Dixon Christian Conference selection at Shalom Christian Academy. As a senior, she led her team to a 25-1 record, the MDCC Tournament title, and the Accredited Christian Schools International Regional Tournament title.
"Deanna is a very talented athlete and a delightful person," said Swanson. "She has excellent speed, quickness, and jumping ability. We are looking forward to her learning and polishing her volleyball skills here at MVNC. Besides volleyball, she excels in music, is an outstanding student, and has a great personality."
With these three newcomers joining the quality group of experienced returning players, the 1998 season should prove to be another successful chapter in the history of MVNC volleyball.