Volleyball Team Honored by AVCA

Published on 13 August 2015

The St. Louis College of Pharmacy women’s volleyball team was one of 46 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) volleyball teams to be honored by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) with the AVCA Team Academic Award for the 2012-13 season. This is the first time in the team’s 20-year history that it has been honored with such an award.

The award, founded in 1992, honors collegiate and high school volleyball teams that have displayed excellence in the classroom during the school year by maintaining at least a 3.30 cumulative team grade point average on a 4.0 scale. The STLCOP women’s volleyball team had a 3.45 cumulative GPA for the 2012-13 year.

"Excellence doesn't happen by accident, either on the court or in the classroom," says AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. "It takes consistent preparation, relentless effort, and determined leadership. A full year of academic achievement by an entire team of individual students is a remarkable achievement.”

Randi Tyler, head coach of the STLCOP women’s volleyball team, believes the honor is even more remarkable considering the College’s demanding curriculum. “It really means extra to us because we know how hard the program is and how hard student athletes work to earn awards like this,” she says. “We’re really proud that they can maintain a 3.45 GPA. Our athletes are going to class every day, going to labs, studying on the bus, studying up until the minute we start practice. As soon as practice is over, they go right back to it.”

Kaitlyn LaBoube, third-year student-athlete and starting setter on the team, says that her coaches, including Tyler and Assistant Coach Katie Payne, understand the rigors of the STLCOP curriculum and accommodate their players when they need to focus on studying or classwork. “The coaches do a good job of letting us go if we need to study. If we’re behind, they say, ‘You can go. Take a night off. Get caught up on everything,’” says LaBoube, who, in addition to excelling in the classroom, broke the STLCOP record for assists per set for a season last year.

Kelly Plach, fifth-year student-athlete and starting middle blocker, says that the responsibility of playing collegiate volleyball, as well as progressing through a demanding six-year pharmacy program, helps keep her focused. “It definitely keeps us busy, but I think, for me, staying busy is the best part of it. It helps us manage our time. We know we only have a couple of hours every night to get stuff done. And we all spend a lot of time studying together,” says Plach, who has twice received NAIA All-American Scholar-Athlete accolades. To be eligible for the All-American honor, student-athletes must compete on an intercollegiate team and maintain a 3.5 cumulative grade point average as a junior or above.

Plach and Payne also pointed to consistency as a reason for the team’s success on and off the court. “We have a lot of returning players,” says Plach. “I think we have 18 girls this year, which is awesome. The team is coming off a 14-17 season in which it won a game in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) tournament for the first time ever. 

The team starts the season with heightened expectations on Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. in the Pillbox against Mid-Continent University.

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