2001 Tachikara/AVCA Division III Region Coaches of the Year


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2001 AVCA Division III Tachikara/AVCA Region Coach of the Year

2001 Tachikara/AVCA Division III Region Coaches of the Year for Women's Volleyball Announced

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO - The following coaches have been selected by their region as Tachikara/AVCA Region Coach of the Year. Each of the honorees will represent their region on the National Coach of the Year ballot. The awards will be officially presented at the Tachikara/AVCA Coach of the Year banquet in San Diego on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2001, at the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Convention. Seven of the eight selections have advanced their teams to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal Round to be played on Nov. 17.

Central Region Coach of the Year
Gretchen Hansen, Bethel College
2001 Record: 25-10 (NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinalist, MIAC Champion)
In her first season as a head collegiate coach, Gretchen Hansen led Bethel College to its best MIAC record ever (10-1) and the first AVCA Division III Coaches Top 20 ranking in the school's history. Bethel entered the poll on Oct. 10, and has remained there since. Bethel, ranked 15th in the current national poll, has impressive wins over nationally ranked teams such as #10 Wartburg (3-2), #13 Elmhurst (3-1) and #17 St. Olaf (3-0, 3-1). Among its 10 losses, seven have come against teams currently ranked in the national top 20 poll. Coach Hansen accomplished these tasks while training a setter (as a senior) who had never played the position before, after losing the original starting setter to a career-ending injury before the season started. Despite this fact, Bethel was one of the national leaders in team assists per game. Coach Hansen was voted by her peers as the MIAC Coach of the Year. Bethel earned the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference automatic bid with a win over St. Olaf in the league tournament finals.

Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year
Michele Benoit, College of Mount St. Joseph
2001 Record: 31-6 (NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal Berth, Heartland Champion)
Michele Benoit has placed Mount St. Joseph into the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal Round for the third consecutive season with a 31-6 record. Mount St. Joseph, the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, ranks fourth in the AVCA Division III Coaches Top 20 Poll with wins this season over #2 Trinity, #3 Washington, #12 Ohio Northern (twice), #13 Elmhurst, #14 Wittenberg (twice) and #17 St. Olaf. Mount St. Joseph is 10-5 against teams ranked among the top 20 at some point this season. All but one of its six losses have been to teams ranked currently in the top eight, and the other was to NAIA nationally ranked Georgetown (Ky.). Benoit, with a 198-58 career record, has molded a team absent of eight players from last season's NCAA Quarterfinal Round team (four to graduation, four to players not returning for unexpected reasons). Further, Mount St. Joseph lost a potential impact freshman to injury on the first day of the season. Overall, Benoit has blended a starting lineup of two seniors, one junior, one sophomore and two freshmen.

Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year
Larry Bock, Juniata College
2001 Record: 28-8 (NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal Berth, Commonwealth Champion)
Larry Bock has led Juniata to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal round with a 28-8 reocrd this season. Juniata, undefeated in its region, holds victories over #4 Mount St. Joseph, #14 Wittenberg, and #16 Nazareth among current AVCA Division III Coaches Top 20 Poll teams. Juniata, the Commonwealth champion, is 6-1 against Division II teams this season, along with a win over Division I Princeton. All but one of Juniata's eight losses has come against teams currently ranked in the national poll. Juniata captured the Mercyhurst Tournament (Division II) and J.C. Guisler Tournament this season. Bock earned his 900th victory in women's collegiate volleyball and 1,000th overall (counting 100 as men's head coach at Juniata) early this season.

Midwest Region Coach of the Year
Kris Russell, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
2001 Record: 33-2 (NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal Berth, WIAC Champions)
Kris Russell, in her 21st season at Wisconsin-Whitewater, has coached the Warhawks to the number-one national ranking since Oct. 10. UWW has wins over #4 Mount St. Joseph (twice), #5 Central, #6 Juniata (twice), #7 Wisconsin-Oshkosh (three times), #12 Ohio Northern,  #13 Elmhurst and #15 Bethel. The only teams to defeat last year's national runner-up in 2000 have been #3 Washington and league-rival Wisconsin-Oshkosh. However, UWW defeated Wisconsin-Oshkosh 3-0 in the conference tournament championship and in the Midwest Regional Championship match this year. UWW, co-regular season champions of the WIAC with a 7-1 mark, faced a schedule that included 23 of its 35 matches against regionally ranked schools and 16 of its 35 matches against nationally ranked teams. Coach Russell, the 2000 Tachikara Division III National Coach of the Year, has improved her overall coaching record to 712-208 and won her 700th match on Oct. 12. UWW earned its 10th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament as the top-seed in the Midwest Region.

New England Region Coach of the Year
Dorothy Webb, Wellesley College
2001 Record: 26-4  (NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal Berth, NEWMAC Champion)
Dorothy Webb earned her fifth consecutive Tachikara New England Region Coach of the Year award for leading Wellesley to a current 26-4 record. Wellesley holds a 19-1 record within the New England Region with the only slip against Springfield in a five-game match. Webb has led her team back to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals for the third year in a row after winning the NEWMAC title. The team finished second in the NEWMAC during the regular season, but rebounded to win the conference tournament and earn the league's automatic bid. Webb, 243-64 as a head coach during her nine-year tenure at Wellesley, has led her team to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth straight season. This year she did it with the aid of just one senior. With the exception of its early-season loss to Springfield, Wellesley defeated all regionally ranked opponents in the New England Region including Amherst, Coast Guard, MIT, Tufts and Williams. Wellesley avenged its earlier loss to Springfield with a three-game victory in the NEWMAC Tournament championship. Wellesley won the New England Region as the number-one seed.

New York Region Coach of the Year
Linda Downey, Nazareth College
2001 Record: 36-2 (NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal Berth, Empire 8 Champion)
Linda Downey, just in her third year at Nazareth, has built the Golden Flyers into one of the top teams nationally. Nazareth is 28-0 within the New York Region, including four wins over Ithaca, three over RIT, one over SUNY Brockport, one over SUNY Cortland and two over NYU. The only losses on the Nazareth 2001 schedule are to nationally ranked Juniata and previously ranked Carnegie Mellon. Nazareth won the Empire 8 championship en route to securing the New York Region's top seed. Downey has earned the Tachikara New York Region Coach of the Year award for the second consecutive season. Nazareth excelled on a team effort, which included three members on the 2001 AVCA All-New York Region Team.

South Region Coach of the Year
Julie Jenkins, Trinity University (Texas)
2001 Record: 35-4 (NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal Berth, SCAC Champion)
Julie Jenkins has taken a Trinity squad with only one senior from a team that posted a 33-8 record in 2000, and led it to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals. Trinity, ranked second in the AVCA Division III Coaches Top 20 poll, has posted wins over #6 Juniata, #10 Wartburg, #11 Emory and #14 Wittenberg this season. Further, Trinity has a 4-0 record against Division II teams in the state of Texas, in addition to a victory over Division I Prairie View A&M. Trinity earned its NCAA Tournament berth by winning the SCAC title. Jenkins earned the 1999 Tachikara AVCA Division III National Coach of the Year as she led her team to the national title match that season. Trinity placed four members on the 2001 AVCA All-South Region Team, including the AVCA South Region Freshman of the Year.

West Region Coach of the Year
Don Flora, University of La Verne
2001 Record: 24-1 (NCAA Tournament Quarterfinal Berth, SCIAC Champion)
Don Flora has guided eighth-ranked La Verne to a near perfect season with a 24-1 record and the best winning percentage in Division III. La Verne, ranked sixth in the West Region as late as a week left in the regular season, has proved a worthy team as it advanced through the NCAA West Region tournament for a berth in the NCAA Quarterfinals. ULV has defeated Cal State Hayward (#9 nationally), Emory (#11 nationally), split with Cal Lutheran (West Region #7) and defeated Colorado College (West Region #8). Flora's squad entered the NCAA Tournament as the SCIAC's automatic qualifier for winning the league title. His squad won the ULV Leo Classic this season with two significant wins over Emory. ULV started the season ranked seventh in the AVCA Division III Coaches Top 20 Preseason Poll. Over the past two seasons, Flora's team has a combined 49-3 record.

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