Volleyball Coach Paco Labrador Crosses 300 Career Win Mark
Springfield, Ohio – It is difficult to imagine that a coach who won an NCAA Division III championship could actually top himself less than two weeks into the following season, but Wittenberg Volleyball Head Coach Paco Labrador may be doing just that. In just his 10th year at the helm of the program, Labrador surpassed 300 career victories with three wins in two days at the Juniata College Asics Invitational.
Labrador’s team, which features four freshmen in the playing rotation in 2012 after graduating five starters from the 2011 squad that won the program’s first-ever national title, didn’t just win three matches at Juniata. The fifth-ranked Tigers defeated the ninth-ranked host team, No. 1 Christopher Newport (in a re-match of last year’s national championship match) and 16th-ranked Puget Sound.
Those exploits came after three victories in the season-opening Courtyard by Marriott Wittenberg National Invitational over Wartburg, Whitworth and 24th-ranked Trinity (Texas). Wartburg and Whitworth also received votes in the preseason American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) national poll.
“This team knew it had to grow up and grow together very quickly,” said Labrador, who now has a 302-41 career record. “I am happy with how much of that happened. We made some big strides this weekend building connections and playing under pressure.”
Labrador entered the 2012 season with an .878 winning percentage, which ranked him No. 1 among active NCAA Division III volleyball coaches and No. 2 across all divisions of the NCAA for career winning percentage. He has earned a host of awards for his work, including AVCA National Coach of the Year (2011), AVCA Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year (2004, 2007) and North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Coach of the Year (2006, 2007, 2010, 2011).
Labrador has coached 12 Tiger student-athletes to All-America accolades, two of whom have also added Academic All-America awards, and his teams have won eight NCAC regular season and eight NCAC Tournament titles in his first nine seasons. The preseason NCAC favorite in 2012, Wittenberg has a 114-2 record in regular season league play in Labrador’s first nine seasons at the helm.
“The 300 wins are a reflection of all the dedicated players who have done the work on the floor,” said Labrador, a 1995 graduate of Hiram who arrived at Wittenberg after four years as an assistant coach at Miami (Ohio) University, where he earned a master’s degree in 1997. “Every team has invested 100 percent in the program over my 10 seasons, so the pleasure has been mine to coach them.”
The road gets no easier for the Tigers, who are slated to take on three nationally ranked opponents in their four matches in the Wittenberg Fall Classic Sept. 14-15. Washington University, which entered the week sharing the top spot in the national poll, third-ranked Calvin and eighth-ranked Hope will all line up against the Tigers, in addition to Mount St. Joseph.