Volleyball | 11/01/2010
Smith named ACCAC Volleyball Coach of the Year
Matadors' head coach earns prestigious honor is 1st year back at helm of program
Yuma, Arizona November 2, 2010 Arizona Western College is proud to announce that AWC Head Volleyball Coach Jason Smith has been named as the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Volleyball Coach Coach of the Year. It's the first time in nearly 20 years of coaching that Smith has had this honor bestowed upon him, and it's the first time that a Matador Head Volleyball Coach has won the ACCAC award since James Finley won the award back in 2002. The announcement comes following the conclusion of the postseason coaches' meetings in Glendale.
While his 2007 Matador squad may have had a better record (so far) than the current year's squad, few would question that Smith's job was much harder to perform this year. After spending two years as an assistant volleyball coach at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (before that, the Matadors' Head Coach in '06 & '07), Smith returned to the Matador Volleyball program at a press conference in mid-June. By that time, the recruiting season was just about over, and the Matadors' roster already filled for 2010. Smith then took what he was given, and in his own words, 'broke them down to build them back up' with his own coaching philosophy and system. Predictably, with the players still adjusting, the team started out the regular season in middling fashion, and three weeks into the season, they were 6-7 overall after losing a tough 4-game match to archrival Yavapai. While some fans wondered if it was time to start thinking about next season, Smith felt he had the right things in place, and was sure that his team would find itself. That faith was confirmed in the team's next match, when they breezed past Phoenix College in four games, and followed that up with a grueling, 5-set upset of Eastern Arizona College-handing the Gila Monsters their first conference loss in 2 years. From there, the Lady Mats exploded, putting together a 10-match winning streak (their longest in 3 years) and rocketed from 6th place in the conference to 2nd within just 3 weeks. The Lady Mats finished the regular season winning 13 of their last 14 matches, and their 15-3 conference mark was a whopping 9 wins better than in 2009. They also clinched their first postseason playoff berth in two years, and did it two weeks before the end of the regular season. We were so pleased to have a chance to bring Jason back to the program this past summer, and he's done nothing but prove what a great choice it was since he got here," said AWC Athletic Director Jerry Smith. "It's great to see his peers give him this well-deserved honor."
Smith now leads his Lady Matadors into postseason competitionWednesday night in Thatcher. The 2nd-seeded Lady Matadors-who finished the regular season with a 19-8 overall record and a conference mark of 15-3 will face off against top seed (and ACCAC Regular Season Champion) Eastern Arizona College in the Region I Finals Wednesday night at Guitteau Gymnasium on the EAC campus. First serve is at 7PM, and fans should keep close watch on the AWC Athletics website (www.azwestern.edu/athletics) for updates on the match tomorrow night.