EVANSTON, Ill. — Getting the opportunity to coach in her home state for the first time in her 32-year SFA career, it seemed only fitting for Ladyjack head volleyball coach Debbie Humphreys to lock down her 700th career victory in front of family and friends who helped start her on a lifelong path of volleyball greatness.
SFA's longest-tenured bench boss achieved her latest incredible coaching milestone by watching her squad dice up Austin Peay using to a .373 attack percentage which helped the Ladyjacks score a 3-0 win that kept the Governors firmly entrenched in the ranks of the winless through 2019. The match was SFA's second at the Northwestern Under Armour Tournament and helped the Ladyjacks improve to 6-0 in 2019.
One of only 11 active NCAA Division I head coaches who have hit the 700 win mark, Humphreys' milestone victory was a little more memorable than usual as it came in her home state. Flanked by family and friends in the stands, SFA's 32nd-year head coach penned the latest chapter in a volleyball legacy that stands among one of the greatest of all time.
KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE
• Evans paced the Ladyjacks' attack with an 11-kill, 12-dig double-double.
• Daron was a big-time two-way threat in the straight-set win, finishing with 10 terminations and a match-high five blocks.
• A highly efficient attacker, Hill totaled eight kills on just nine swings for a sterling .889 attack percentage.
• Hollas and Dean dished out 22 and 16 assists respectively while Ariana Pagan came up with 11 of SFA's 42 digs in the victory.
• Moore finished with a match-high 13 kills for Austin Peay, but no other Governor generated more than six.
HEAR IT FROM HUMPHREYS
On SFA's three wins in two days | "Last night in the match against Loyola we were able to get some of those travel jitters out of the way. Today we had a fresh slate and everyone seemed to have their legs back under them. We have played some really, really good volleyball today. Although we started off a little slow, we were able to make it 14-all and then never looked back against Texas Tech. That match saw us play really good defense and that allowed the offense to start clicking. From there we carried that over to the Austin Peay match really enjoyed one of our best matches of the year from that standpoint."
On the effect SFA's defense has on its offense | "I can definitely tell you that our defense- which has been good – was even better today. That led to a lot of great offensive opportunities. We executed a game plan almost to perfection against Austin Peay. There are some things they do really, really well. We didn't allow them to score on any of their unorthodox plays that can cause teams problems if you aren't prepared for it."
On reaching the 700-win milestone | "Typically I wouldn't know that those milestones are coming but I did know this year because I remember when we went to the NCAA Tournament last year someone mentioned that if we win a national championship then that would be my 700th win. You do the math from there and think, 'well, I guess I only need six, then,' so that stuck out a little bit.
On getting the milestone win in Illinois and what it means overall | "The fact that we were able to do it here meant more to me than some of those other milestone. I had family and close friends that came out to watch which made things very special. It's definitely fun for me – that's why I continue to do it. I'm very passionate about the sport of volleyball. I feel blessed to have had this opportunity so long and that SFA gave me this opportunity when I was a 23-year-old. All of the players that have come through this program, this was all them. I have never once put on a uniform and went out there to complete. Those wins are for them, all of the assistant coaches who have come through the program and helped make it what it is today."
SFA 3, NORTHWESTERN 1 (Saturday)
In the span of three days, the SFA volleyball knocked off a Big 12 opponent and a Big Ten foe in order to maintain their reputation as one of the nation's finest mid-major volleyball programs.
For just the second time in the history of the program the Ladyjacks got the better of a Big Ten opponent by frustrating Northwestern into 39 attack errors during a 3-1 victory over the Wildcats in the championship match of the Northwestern Under Armour Challenge.
KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE
• SFA didn't need to put up any kind of otherworldly offensive numbers to lock up the win. The Ladyjacks, rather, relied on their defense to get the job done.
• Northwestern was allowed to hit just .083 as SFA racked up 17 blocks and forced a total of 39 attack errors by the Wildcats.
• Daron finished with six blocks while Hollas and Mitchell racked up four apiece. Hollas complimented her blocking total with 12 assists and seven digs.
• Northwestern received a match-high 18 kills from Thomas-Ailara while Robinson chipped in 14.
• Daron, Dean and Evans earned spots on the All-Tournament Team while Evans was named the MVP.
COMING UP NEXT
• Still undefeated, the Ladyjacks will put their flawless record on the line again on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. when they face Arkansas State in the opening match of the Arkansas State Invitational.