By Patrick Moore, Director of Sports Information and Athletic Communication, Madonna (Mich.)
ADRIAN, Mich. -- 26 years after career win number one came against Grace Bible College, history was made Friday night (Nov. 2) as Madonna University head coach Jerry Abraham became just the second NAIA volleyball coach to win 1,000 matches as his No. 16-ranked Crusaders swept Siena Heights 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-23) at the SHU Field House.
In addition to Abraham's historic win, the victory gave MU its 13th Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference championship and an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship. MU will be making its 12th appearance at the national summit.
Abraham - who reached the 1,000 win mark less than 24 hours after Mount Vernon Nazarene's Paul Swanson became the first NAIA coach with 1,000 victories on Thursday - reached the historic mark faster than any coach in collegiate volleyball history, reaching the mark in just 25-plus seasons, more than two years sooner than his closest competitor.
The 2005 NAIA National Coach of the Year, Abraham's teams have averaged 38.4 wins per year and he has never won fewer than 29 matches in a season, posting 24 seasons of at least 30 victories and 13 seasons of at least 40 wins.
The ninth coach in collegiate volleyball history (NCAA Division I, II, III and NAIA) with 1,000 victories, Abraham is one of just four coaches who won all 1,000 matches at the same school, joining Andy Banachowski of UCLA, Dave Shoji of Hawaii and Russ Rose at Penn State to achieve the feat at one school.
The only coach the Crusaders have known and a 2004 NAIA Hall of Fame inductee, Abraham's record now sits at 1,000-261, good for a .792 winning percentage. His 175-18 mark in WHAC matches gives Abraham a .906 winning percentage in MU's 16 conference seasons.
Abraham is tied with Swanson for eighth all-time across all four levels of four-year collegiate volleyball. Larry Bock, currently coaching at the U.S. Naval Academy, leads the pack with 1,261 career wins.
All-Time Volleyball Coaching Wins
1. Larry Bock * (Navy) - 1,261
2. Peggy Martin * (Spring Hill) - 1,139
3. Andy Banachowski (UCLA) - 1,106
4. Dave Shoji * (Hawaii) - 1,095
5. Russ Rose * (Penn State) - 1,079
6. Tracy Rietzke * (Rockhurst) - 1,057
7. Rich Luenenmann * (Washington University St. Louis) - 1,039
T-8. Jerry Abraham * (Madonna) - 1,000
T-8. Paul Swanson * (Mt. Vernon Nazarene) - 1,000
*-active (current school)
"I'm not into the individual stuff but to be honest I was nervous all day long because of the magnitude of the 1000th game," said a soaked Abraham after getting doused by his squad following the final point. "It allowed us to get to nationals, host the conference tournament and it's really about the players. It really is. I was nervous all day because I knew we were playing on the road against a team that is playing very well as of late. I'm just proud of the way the kids hung in there and played well."
Sophomore outside hitter Samantha Geile (Muskegon, Mich. / Fruitport) led the Crusaders with 11 kills while four other Crusaders - senior middle hitter Nastija Baranovska (Riga, Latvia / Rigas Secondary No. 16) and senior outside Taylor Dziewit (Almont, Mich. / Almont) along with junior outside hitter Stacey Catalano (Macomb, Mich. / Eisenhower) and junior middle hitter Emilie Freeman (Livonia, Mich. / Lutheran Westland) - each added six kills apiece in the win. Junior setter Evia Prieditis (Milford, Mich. / Milford) had 32 assists and freshman libero Amanda Obrycki (Allen Park, Mich. / St. Frances Cabrini) led MU with 12 digs. As a team the Crusaders posted 11 total blocks including six solos with Baranovska accounting for a pair of individual rejections.
In the third and final set, the Crusaders fell behind early and could not get into rhythm, trailing 18-12 at one point in the set. A kill by Baranovska followed by a pair of Geile kills wrapped around a SHU miscue pulled MU within two, 19-17. SHU stemmed the tide for a moment after, pulling ahead by three, 20-17, before the two sides traded points before Geile put down a cross court kill and three straight SHU errors pulled MU even at 21-all.
SHU took a 23-22 lead on a kill by Chelsea Doyle but Dziewit squared the set at 23-all off of a Prieditis pass for the 11th tie of the set. Back-to-back Siena Heights hitting errors ended the set at 25-23 in favor of Madonna and put Abraham's name into even more select company.
"The first two sets, we established the middle and were very tough in the middle if we got a good pass," said Abraham about the third set. "We felt we had a mismatch in the middle with our size and our experience. The middle really clicked in the first game. You knew in game three they weren't going to give up. With that 10 minute break you have to come out and get all sweaty again and anything can happen. That game could have gone either way but I'm proud of how the kids hung in there."
The opening set saw MU open up a 15-2 lead early and never look back, winning 25-17. Freeman accounted for three kills while Prieditis posted a pair of service aces as MU took a 1-0 lead in the match.
Set two was even until back-to-back solo blocks by Baranovska broke a 16-all tie and put MU in front for good. Geile accounted for two kills down the stretch and Prieditis added a solo block as MU won 25-18.
Halie Baker led SHU with 11 kills while Lindsey Adams added 10 in the loss.
The Crusaders will now be idle until next Friday (Nov. 9) when they take on the winner of the Siena Heights against UM-Dearborn match (scheduled for Wednesday night) at Noon in the Activities Center. MU is the host for the four WHAC quarterfinal matches on Friday as well as Saturday's semi-finals and finals.
I think it's a big plus for our fans and our players," added Abraham when asked about hosting the annual WHAC summit. "Everyone likes to play at home. We've got a week to get prepared and we're really excited about it."