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Former Eagle Melissa Myers named head WVB coach at Illinois State

(Posted May 6, 2008)

Former Juniata women's volleyball standout Melissa Myers, at the announcement of her hiring as the new head women's volleyball coach at Illinois State. Photo courtesy Illinois State University Sports Information/Dennis Banks.

NORMAL, Ill. -- Melissa Myers (Juniata '98), who compiled three-consecutive 30-win seasons the last three years as the head coach at California University (Pa.), was named the sixth head volleyball coach at Illinois State, as announced by director of athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger at a press conference at the Kaufman Football Building Friday afternoon. Myers spent the past six seasons at the helm of the Vulcans.

"In Melissa Myers, we are hiring a coach that has taken a team from ground level and turned it into a championship program," said Zenger. "I feel very fortunate to have found an individual that is such a good fit for Illinois State University, Illinois State Athletics and the young women who are members of our volleyball team.

"Coach Myers is an intense competitor and a consummate professional. After spending quality time with her, there was no doubt in my mind that Melissa is a highly-intelligent individual that has committed herself to being a student of the game. Once our volleyball and campus community, as well as high school and club coaches from across the state, have the opportunity to get to know her, I know that they will find her to be engaging, knowledgeable and a winner."

Myers compiled a 161-49 (.767) record at Cal (Pa). She was named both the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West Coach of the Year and the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Regional Coach of the Year in 2004, 2005 and 2007. During the 2006 season, the Hastings, Pa., native became the winningest coach in Cal (Pa.) volleyball history.

"This is a tremendous opportunity, and I am honored to be the next head coach at Illinois State," said Myers. "During the process, I was extremely drawn to the history and tradition of Illinois State volleyball. It has a strong and rich tradition, so that was appealing. We have a solid team returning in the fall, and I am a competitive coach, so it is comforting to know that I am walking into a great situation already.

"From what I have seen, the leadership and support of president Al Bowman and athletics director Sheahon Zenger at Illinois State is unprecedented, and I am proud to be a part of that."

Myers was also intrigued by the strong volleyball presence in the Bloomington-Normal community.

"If it (Central Illinois) is not the strongest area in the country for volleyball, it is right up there near the top," said Myers. "There are a lot of different pockets of volleyball in the country, and the areas surrounding Bloomington-Normal are the most saturated, when you factor in Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis and in areas around Minnesota and Iowa. It is an extremely strong area talent-wise, and we plan on using that to our advantage in recruiting.

"Some of the most successful players in Division I volleyball history have come from the Bloomington-Normal area. That is going to be huge for us."

Last season, Myers led the Vulcans to a 35-4 record, with a 10-0 mark in the PSAC, and advanced to the Elite Eight of the Division II NCAA Tournament. It was just the second undefeated league slate in Cal (Pa.) history. The Vulcans also rattled off 33-consecutive wins during the stretch, and had three players garner all-America plaudits, including sophomore setter Renata da Silva's AVCA third-team honor.

In 2006, Cal (Pa.) posted a 30-7 record and advanced to the PSAC and NCAA Regional championship matches. One year earlier (2005), Myers guided the Vulcans to a 33-3 overall mark, capturing their first league title since 1992, along with a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the previous four seasons.

Prior to accepting the head coaching job at Cal (Pa.), Myers served four seasons as a college assistant coach. She spent three seasons (1998-2000) at PSAC West rival Lock Haven University, before moving onto Juniata College, her alma mater, where she served as an assistant coach for the men's volleyball program for one season (2001-02).

The 32-year old Myers (12/26/75) was a four-year letterwinner, and three-year starting right side hitter, at Juniata College in both volleyball and track and field, while earning a bachelor's of science degree in human behavior and communications. She also earned her master's of science degree in exercise science and health promotion with an emphasis in performance enhancement, from Cal (Pa.) in July 2005.

Myers garnered numerous individual awards and recognition in her playing days, including a Middle Atlantic Conference Volleyball Player of the Year nod (1997), along with AVCA All-America honors. She also earned NCAA Track and Field all-America honors in 1998.

At Cal (Pa.), Myers was very active in the surrounding volleyball community, hosting quality summer camps and club volleyball tournaments. Each winter, the Vulcans volunteered at the Pennsylvania Special Olympics State Games at Hidden Valley Ski Resort. Last year, Cal (Pa.) also volunteered and raised money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, in an effort to increase the awareness of breast cancer.

Prior to the 2005 season, Myers traveled with her team on a 12-day volleyball tour of China, playing four matches while visiting Beijing and Shanghai.

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.