TERRE HAUTE —
Wallace State volleyball may not come to mind when you think of college athletic dominance, unless you happen to follow Alabama Community College Conference volleyball.
West Vigo graduate Jessica Coombs is a freshman outside hitter for the Lions, who are ranked 17th nationally among junior colleges and have a 14-0 record.
Wallace State is undefeated in regular-season conference play since the midway point of the 2007 season, and this year’s squad has quickly extended the streak, sweeping all four league matches.
The Lions recorded their fourth ACCC victory of the season Thursday afternoon, cruising to a 25-9, 25-11, 25-19 homecourt win over Faulkner State.
Coombs, a 5-foot-8 freshman, set the tone Thursday by racking up seven aces, seven kills, nine digs and four blocks en route to the Lions grabbing an 11-2 lead in the first set. Coombs has immediately proved she can fulfill multiple roles for the Lions.
“Jessica is a good all-around player for us. She is aggressive, has a great work ethic and loves to win,” said Wallace State Coach Randy Daniel. “She has found her role with this team.”
So how in the world did a young lady from western Vigo County make her way to Hanceville, Ala.?
“I found Wallace by doing some research online and I e-mailed the coach,” Coombs said. “After he responded and I came down on my visit, I realized this was the place for me. The girls were very nice and had a love for the game.”
Wallace State recorded a 53-3 record last season, with two of the losses coming in the national junior college tournament.
“College volleyball is different because everyone is working diligently towards winning. Every practice is always a battle and in college you have the opportunity to travel more,” she said.
So far this season, the Lions played six matches in two days at a tournament in South Carolina and will eventually make their way to tournaments in Florida, Tennessee and Missouri.
Coombs has racked up some impressive statistics, ranking second on the team with 86 digs, fourth in kills with 87, and second in sets with 40 while recording 18 aces and 19 blocks.
Even though her collegiate career has just begun, Coombs has some predictable goals for the rest of her career.
“My long-term goal is continuing to play after I'm finished here,” she said. “Hopefully D-I, but I would be happy with anything. The most important thing is furthering my education.”
Coach Daniel has only one other non-Alabama player on his roster, outside hitter Erica Wicktora from Ohio, but will undoubtedly add Indiana to his recruiting area if he can find more players who contribute like Coombs has.
“We exchanged a few e-mails and I did a little background check on her with her club coaches, who gave her high reviews,” Daniel said. “I invited her down for a workout with the team and was impressed with her overall talents. I really liked her parents; they are great people and give Jess great support which is important to me.”
Coombs comes from an athletic family, as her older brother Morgan completed a four-year college baseball career last spring at Ball State after starting out pitching for Lincoln Trail.
Daniel credits Coombs’ mental toughness and determination with making her an outstanding player for his team.
“She does a great job handling the ball and attacking, and she is one of our current leaders with kills per set,” he said. “She is very aggressive, and plays with a lot of passion and effort that is most impressive for me and her teammates.
“Jess has a great personality, we just love her so much on and off the court,” Daniel added. “She still needs to improve on her serve receive, and attacking bad sets the most, but she is a major contributor to our team’s overall success.”
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Lynsey Higgins, Fr., Vincennes – Has 22 kills, one ace, one block, eight digs and three assists.
Breegan Andersen, Fr., Manchester – Has recorded no statistics in two matches.
Carmen Beabout, So., Lake Land – Stats unavailable.
Christy Fulk, assistant coach, Rose-Hulman – In her second year on the Engineer staff while pursuing a master's degree in recreation and sport management at Indiana State.
Kaylee Clark, Fr., Vincennes – Has one ace, 37 digs, four assists
Laura Payne, Jr., McKendree – In her first year at the school after playing the past two seasons at Lincoln Land. Has four assists, three kills, 73 digs and a team-high 117 total receiving attempts.
Beth Mahurin, Fr., Murray State – Has 26 kills, four digs and nine blocks.
Holli Moore, Fr., Lake Land – Stats unavailable.
Briana Harvey, Fr., Rose-Hulman – Has eight kills, six and three blocks this season.
Mikaela Chagnon, Fr., Cincinnati Christian – Has 13 sets, three assists and five aces and ranks second on team with 70 digs.
Terre Haute North
Casey Hayne, Sr., Oakland City – Career ended due to shoulder surgery. Serving as student assistant coach while completing criminal justice degree.
Sara Baugh, So., Navy – Has seven kills and one assist.
Mary Kate Etling, Fr., DePauw – Has four kills, one assist and one block this season.
Katlyn Anderson, Fr., Vincennes – Has 15 assists, two kills, four aces and leads team with 244 digs,
Laura Mauer, Fr., Marietta (Ky.) – Has 12 kills and five aces and leads team in assists with 171.
Terre Haute South
Kristen Seaton, Gr., Indiana –.Has 24 kills, two aces, five digs and eight blocks for 8-2 Hoosiers. On Friday, had two kills and a dig in a win over George Washington in a match played at San Diego.
Brittaney Pugh, Jr., Lincoln Memorial (Tenn.) – Leads team with 41 digs and also has four assists and two aces.
Shelby Crncic, So., Arkansas State – Season stats unavailable.
Jessica Chichester, So., Vincennes – Ranks fourth on team with 67 kills. Also has 25 blocks, five aces, 23 digs and three assists.
Taylor Hayne, Fr., Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) – Has 16 blocks and ranks second on 13-1 team with 118 kills.
Katie Moon, Fr., Indiana State – Has one assist and one dig in two matches.
Jessica Coombs, Fr., Wallace State (Ala.) – See related story.