By Jim Henry
Globe Sports Editor
Missouri Southern’s volleyball program began in 1975.
The Lions, coached by Gerry Albins, compiled a 10-7 record in that first season. They lost their first two matches at Pittsburg State and Cottey College before notching their first victory, 15-10, 15-7, at Drury on Sept. 29.
Then on Oct. 1 the Lions played their first home match and defeated Crowder College 15-9, 15-6. Missouri Southern’s record then improved to 23-14-1 in 1976.
The Lions have had six coaches in their volleyball history. Albins coached the first three years, followed by CeCe Chamberlin (1978-80), Pat Lipira (1981-87), Debbie Traywick (1985-2003), Chris Willis (2004-10) and Trish Knight (2011-12).
Traywick won the most matches — 267, an average of 17 per season for her 16-year stint. The Lions’ best campaign under Traywick was 32-11 in 1991.
The Lions’ greatest success came during Lipira’s tenure. They averaged 38 victories per season, winning 265 matches total.
During a four-year stretch, the Lions won 42 matches in both 1983 and 1984, 40 in 1985 and 47 in 1986. The Lions also won their lone conference championship in 1984, going 12-2 in the Central States Intercollegiate Conference.
Based on records since 1985, Kyla Tompkins has played in the most matches for the Lions — 212 from 1985-88. Becky Harrell (1991-94) has played a school-record 537 sets, five more than teammate Lori Fausett (1990-93).
Stephanie Gockley (1994-97) holds the school record for hitting percentage at .395. The Lions have two more .300 career hitters in Katie Moore (.395 from 1998-99) and Fausett (.311).
Gockley also holds the school record with 1,940 kills, followed by Tompkins (1,735) and Shelly Hodges-Garr (1,734 from 1985-87).
Kym Mutert (2000-03) leads in career assists with 4,430, and Hodges-Garr is next at 4,310.
Neely Burkhart (1993-96) ranks first in career digs (1,776). Burkhart, a Joplin High School graduate, also is third in assists (3,957) and fourth in kills (1,421) and hitting percentage (.268).
Nico Cockrell (1989-91) leads the Lions with 588 career total blocks, followed by Fausett with 485 and Gockley with 429.