Over the past 15 seasons, head coach Paul Swanson has led the Mount Vernon Nazarene College women's volleyball team to a 495-190 overall record (.723 winning percentage).
In the decade of the 1990s, the Lady Cougars have gained the reputation as one of the premier NAIA volleyball programs in the Great Lakes Region. MVNC has posted a 352-102 record (.775) during that span with three conference championships and four runner-up finishes. The Lady Cougars have also compiled a 106-8 home mark (.930) that includes an NAIA-record 70-match home winning streak from 1991-1997.
The 1998 season was no exception to MVNC's winning tradition as the Lady Cougars posted the best record in school history with a 54-7 overall mark that included an American Mideast Conference championship, the AMC Tournament title, and semifinal appearances in both the National Christian College Athletic Association National Tournament and the NAIA Great Lakes Region Tournament.
Swanson must replace NAIA Second Team All-American Tara Seiter (a middle hitter) and setter Mandy Hendrickx from the 1998 squad due to graduation, but MVNC returns the other four starters from its record-setting season. In addition, Swanson has landed two recruits, Katie Zipf and Mary Jo Porter, to help fill the empty roster spots.
Zipf, a 6-foot middle hitter from Westerville, Ohio, was a First Team All-Ohio Capital Conference and First Team All-District selection at Big Walnut High School following her senior season after she recorded 64 kills, 61 blocks, and 88 digs. She was also involved in Junior Olympic volleyball for four years.
"I am glad that Katie is going to join our school and volleyball program," said Swanson. "She has a lot to offer our institution and volleyball team. She comes to us as a very experienced high school player. Big Walnut has an outstanding program, and her club volleyball experience is also a plus."
"I wanted to play volleyball and major in Elementary Education," Zipf said as she explained her choice to attend MVNC. "I felt that MVNC had the best opportunities for me in all the things that I wanted to do."
Porter, a 5-foot-7 outside hitter from Medina, Ohio, was a two-time All-Conference selection at First Baptist Christian School. She was also a Second Team All-Medina County honoree following her junior season when she set school records for aces (109) and kills (134).
"Mary is a very pleasant surprise for us," Swanson said. "She comes from a small high school program and limited experience, but she has such good potential. She is like a diamond in the rough. I am really looking forward to seeing how good a player she can become."
"I found that MVNC met the majority of my expectations and needs," said Porter, who is undecided as to what her major will be. "The school has a good Christian atmosphere and it is a growing college. I immediately liked the volleyball program and the people involved with it when I visited."
With the addition of these two players and the solid core of returning players, MVNC will look to continue its success when the 1999 season gets under way at the end of August.