By DAVID SCHERER | Staff Writer
Whenever one thinks about APSU athletics, one always hear about the men’s and women’s basketball teams making it to the NCAA tournament, or about the football team coming so close to winning a game. A program that has pushed itself to the forefront in the past year, however, is the Lady Govs volleyball team.
Over the past three years, the Lady Govs have posted back-to-back-to-back 20-win campaigns and this year achieved the best record in over a decade at 24-6.
The most remarkable aspect of this dominating program is not the records or the players, but instead the constant turnover of the head coach position.
There have been three coaches in the past three years for the Lady Govs and the new kid on the block, head coach Haley Janicek, is making it known the Lady Govs are here to stay. Janicek played college volleyball in the WAC at Boise State University, and was the first person in the history of the conference to be a member of the All-Conference team in each of her four years.
Coach Janicek came to APSU last year and served as the assistant coach to Mike Johnson and played a key role in the Lady Govs’ resurgence and rise back to the top of the OVC. When Johnson left after the season for Mississippi State, Janicek was given the task of maintaining this remarkable run when she was chosen to become the next head coach for the Lady Govs. As we have all seen, she has done much more than that.
“These girls are very resilient. They have been through coach after coach and I can honestly say that they fought for me just as hard as they have fought for their other coaches. I really cannot thank the team enough. It is them who have put us in this position.”
This year, the Lady Govs have a realistic shot at winning the OVC and moving onto the NCAA tournament, and it can all be attributed to coach Janicek. She has provided the discipline as well as the skills needed to guide the Lady Govs to the second seed in the OVC.
When the Lady Govs suit up this weekend, they will all have their eyes set on the championship and a likely rubber match against Morehead State. They have beaten Morehead this year, 3-2 here at APSU and Janicek believes this will play a key role in shaping their mindset for the upcoming matches.
“Wins, as well as losses, teach the girls a lot. It shows them that they do have what it takes to come through in the clutch and perform when the season is on the line. They give them the confidence to go above and beyond, and to step up when they are needed.”
Assistant coach Evan Giglio has played a very important role in the team’s success this year as well, according to Janicek.
“Evan has been the testosterone, we are all emotional and tend to get worked up from time to time but Evan has done an incredible job at keeping the goal in our minds and helping us focus. He runs the blocking drills every week and scouts out the opposing teams tendencies, which have been invaluable to us as well.”
For the future, Janicek hopes to continue to grow as a team, and eventually the rewards will come.
“Short term, I want us to just continue to get better each and every match. We’re about to go to the OVC tournament, and I want us to get better in the semi-final game so that we will be on the top of our game come the championship. Long term, I definitely want an OVC ring. Not for me, but for the girls. They put in such an incredible effort and they definitely deserve it.”
Coach Janicek could be another Lady Govs coach a team is looking for to add more winning experience to a team. TAS