2005 Tachikara/AVCA Division III Region Coaches of the Year

11/5/2005

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2005 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 Tachikara/AVCA National Coach of the Year ballot. The awards will be officially presented at the Tachikara/AVCA Coach of the Year and Victory Club Awards banquet in Long Beach, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 15, at the 2005 American Volleyball Coaches Association Annual Convention.

Tachikara, the sponsor of the AVCA Coach of the Year program, can be found on the world wide web at http://www.tachikara.com/.

Tachikara/AVCA Division III Central Region Coach of the Year
Rich Luenemann, Washington University in St. Louis
2005 Record:
33-1, 11-1 University Athletic Association
Washington University in St. Louis, ranked third nationally with one loss in the regular season finale, has posted an 11-1 record against teams currently in the CSTV/AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Poll. Washington U. is 1-1 against top-ranked Emory, 1-0 versus second-ranked Juniata and 2-0 against fourth-ranked New York University. The Bears earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament after finishing second at the University Athletic Association Championship. The Bears won their first 33 matches of the season, the third-longest winning streak in program history. Washington U. is making its 19th-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, including a spot in the championship match the past three seasons. Luenemann has been named Tachikara/AVCA Division III Central Region Coach of the Year three times (2000, 2003 and 2005), along with Tachikara/AVCA Division III National Coach of the Year in 2003. He recorded his 800th-career win this season.

Tachikara/AVCA Division III Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year
Pam Briggs, Capital University
2005 Record:
32-4, 10-2 Ohio Athletic Conference
Capital, which shared the top spot in the Ohio Athletic Conference Preseason Poll with Ohio Northern, has climbed to 20th in the current CSTV/AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Poll with a school-record 32 victories. The Crusaders are 4-0 against current nationally ranked teams. Capital, with six starters back from 2004, won 20 straight matches between Sept. 9 and Oct. 20. Briggs earned her third Ohio Athletic Conference Coach of the Year award this season. Capital has recorded its second 30-win season under Briggs' leadership, surpassing a 30-9 mark recorded by the 2002 squad. The Crusaders enter the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time on an eight-match win streak, including the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament championship. Prior to this season, Capital had only been ranked nationally one week, a number-14 placement on Sept. 11, 1996. Briggs, the winningest volleyball coach in school history, holds a 277-156 overall record and 71-45 mark in the OAC.

Tachikara/AVCA Division III Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year
Mark Birtwistle, Eastern University (Pa.)
2005 Record:
30-5, 12-0 Pennsylvania Athletic Conference
Eastern enters the NCAA Division III tournament as the 25th-ranked team in the CSTV/AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Poll. Eastern began the year with a program-record 22-0 start and climbed as high as 19th in the national poll. The Eagles won their first four tournaments of the year. Eastern has picked up wins over regionally ranked opponents SUNY Cortland, Johns Hopkins, Lebanon Valley, Gettysburg, MIT and Tufts. Eastern captured its ninth consecutive PAC Tournament title en route to its seventh NCAA Division III Tournament appearance where the Eagles have advanced to the ‘Sweet 16' the past two seasons. The Eagles' have five losses on the season, and four have been to teams currently in the national poll (second-ranked Juniata, fourth-ranked New York University, seventh-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater, 21st-ranked Elmhurst). Birtwistle, who also earned the Tachikara/AVCA Division III Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year in 2002, has compiled 355-career victories.

Tachikara/AVCA Division III Midwest Region Coach of the Year
Brian Schaefer, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
2005 Record:
35-4, 7-1 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Schaefer, in his first full season as head coach, has led Wisconsin-Oshkosh to its 10th NCAA Division III Tournament berth. UW-Oshkosh has posted a 4-3 record against current top 25 teams and is ranked eighth in the CSTV/AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Poll. The Titans split a pair of matches with seventh-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater and 11th-ranked Wisconsin-Eau Claire, while winning single matches against 13th-ranked St. Thomas (Minn.) and 22nd-ranked Wisconsin-Platteville. The Titans have improved from 22-11 last season to 35-4 this year after being picked seventh in the WIAC Preseason Poll. UW-Oshkosh, on pace for the fewest losses in school history, reached the 30-win plateau for the first time since 2001 en route a share of the WIAC regular season title with a 7-1 mark. Wisconsin-Oshkosh has won five regular season tournaments in 2005. Schaefer took over as interim head coach for 16 matches last season and was named to the post permanently this past summer.

Tachikara/AVCA Division III New England Region Coach of the Year
Candice Parent, Colby College
2005 Record:
34-3, 10-0 New England Small College Athletic Conference
Parent led the Mules to their first-ever NESCAC title and a first-time bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Mules clinched the NESCAC regular season title with a 10-0 record and rolled through the conference tournament with three straight sweeps, including a 3-0 victory over Tufts in the NESCAC title game. In its only match-up with a top 25 team, Colby gave second-ranked Juniata all it could handle forcing the Eagles to four games. Parent led Colby to a 14-match improvement over last season as the team finished 21-10 in 2004. Colby returned five starters and its main libero from 2004, in addition to eight letterwinners. The Mules gained a five-match improvement in the NESCAC as the 2004 team was 5-5. This is Parent's first Tachikara/AVCA Division III New England Region Coach of the Year honor.

Tachikara/AVCA Division III New York Region Coach of the Year
Ed Caesar, New York University
2005 Record:
32-7, 8-4 University Athletic Association
Caesar led the Violets to a 32-7 record and a number-four ranking for the last five weeks in the CSTV/AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Poll. NYU hasn't been ranked lower than sixth all season and has moved back into the fourth position. The Violets scored wins over 21st-ranked Elmhurst and 25th-ranked Eastern (Pa.). Of NYU's seven losses, six of have been against ranked teams. Five of those losses came to the top-three ranked teams in the country. The Violets earned the number-one seed in the New York Region for the NCAA Division III Tournament. NYU has won the NYSWCAA tournament three consecutive years. NYU returned four starters and nine letterwinners from last year's NCAA Tournament semifinalist team. This is the second time that Caeser has been named Tachikara/AVCA Division III New York Region Coach of the Year.

Tachikara/AVCA Division III South Region Coach of the Year
Jenny McDowell, Emory University
2005 Record:
30-5, 11-1 University Athletic Association
McDowell led Emory to a 30-5 season, the eighth 30-win season in her tenure. Emory won 19 straight matches and 57 consecutive games from Sept. 9 to Oct. 11. The Eagles held a top-five ranking the entire season and are currently ranked number one for the first time in school history. Emory posted a 3-2 record against teams ranked in the top 25. The Eagles most impressive win of the season came in the UAA title game when they downed previously undefeated Washington (Mo.) 3-0. The Eagles also played well against North Alabama, ranked fourth NCAA Division II, before losing in four tightly contested games. Emory, which returned four starters and 15 letterwinners from 2004, will be making its 11th consecutive NCAA Division III tournament appearance, as the Eagles host the South Regional. This is the second straight year McDowell has been honored as the Tachikara/AVCA South Region Coach of the Year. She holds 308-84 overall record.

Tachikara/AVCA Division III West Region Coach of the Year
Steve Rupe, Whitworth College
2005 Record:
20-3, 15-1 Northwest Conference
Rupe led the Pirates to a 20-3 record and a Northwest Conference Championship. The Pirates split against 18th-ranked Linfield this season, which was Whitworth's only conference loss of the season. The Pirates snapped Linfield's season-opening 11-match win streak. Of Whitworth's three overall losses, two came to nationally ranked teams. The Pirates were ranked in the CSTV/AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Poll for most of the season and currently hold their best ranking in school history at 15th. Whitworth closed out the season winning 16 of its final 17 matches. The Pirates will be making their third NCAA Division III tournament appearance the last five years as they host the West Regional. This is the first time Rupe has been named Tachikara/AVCA Division III West Region Coach of the Year. Rupe is 120-57 since taking over the Whitworth program in 1999.

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