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Johnson Tapped as Head Coach at Illinois State

SIUE Volleyball

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Leah Johnson, the 2016 Ohio Valley Conference volleyball Coach of the Year, announced she is leaving SIUE to become the head coach at Illinois State University.

Johnson spent six seasons at the helm of SIUE volleyball, pushing the program to new heights in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Cougars were the runner-up at the 2016 OVC Tournament.

"Under Leah's leadership, the SIUE volleyball program has been outstanding in the classroom and on the court," said SIUE Director of Athletics Dr. Brad Hewitt. "She has been a great mentor for SIUE's volleyball student-athletes, and we wish her well in her next challenge."

Johnson's squad set a school record with 22 victories, the most by an SIUE team in the Division I era. The Cougars also advanced to the OVC Tournament championship match for the second time in program history, finishing the season No. 100 in the RPI.

"It was our hope that we build our volleyball program from the ground up to be competitive in every way," said Hewitt. "Leah has been a guiding force over the past six seasons along with her assistant coaches."

Hewitt said assistant coaches Kendall Paulus and Luke Young will remain with SIUE's volleyball program this season. Paulus, who has the greatest tenure with the Cougars, will serve as the acting head coach, and Young will serve as the associate head coach during the 2017 season. A national search will start during the fall with the hopes of having a permanent head coach in place by the conclusion of the 2017 season.

"We believe it is important for the sake of stability and familiarity for our current and incoming student-athletes to compete and flourish under Kendall and Luke rather than further changing the coaching staff," said Hewitt. "I also have asked Senior Woman Administrator Katie Zingg to step in as the sports administrator for volleyball with oversight of day-to-day operations for the program."

SIUE returns 10 letter winners from last season's 22-win season. That list includes seniors Taylor Joens and Jackie Scott, who were named All-OVC last season as well as senior libero Katie Shashack, a member of the All-OVC Tournament team.

"I believe SIUE volleyball is on the brink of being a program that competes for OVC Championships every year," said Hewitt. "We plan on continuing to build upon the Division I foundation already created."

One of Johnson's first recruits at SIUE made the next step in her career in 2016. Kristen Torre, of Highland, signed a professional contract with Prowin Volleys in Germany becoming the first Cougar to play professionally indoors. Torre was discovered by the German team on an international tour in Croatia playing for Team BIP.

Cori Harris was named an OVC Scholar-Athlete, the most prestigious award handed out by the league, after the 2014 season. Chelsea Colclasure also broke the school record for career digs under Johnson's direction.

Johnson recorded an 80-98 record in her five seasons at SIUE. The Cougars were 46-54 in OVC play during that time period.