JOPLIN, Mo. — Missouri Southern Director of Athletics Jared Bruggeman has announced that former Texas Tech and Missouri State-West Plains head coach Trish Knight has been selected to be the sixth head coach in the history of Missouri Southern volleyball.
“Trish rose from an extremely talented pool of coaching candidates and her previous record speaks for itself,” Bruggeman said. “She started the program at West Plains and turned it into one of the most successful at the junior college level. I also would like to thank the search committee headed by Julie Wengert for their tremendous effort during this process.”
Knight comes to Southern after a year and a half at Texas Tech after previously starting the volleyball program at Missouri State-West Plains, winning 80 percent of her games there.
“I see this team being competitive in the MIAA next season because the players want to take that next step,” Knight said. “When I met with the team, it was obvious they are ready to work hard and set the bar high. They want to be the team that starts a strong tradition at Missouri Southern. Their determination to be successful really will be the key to accomplishing their goals. The MIAA is one of the top D-II conferences in the country and if we can compete there, we will be recognized nationally as a good program.”
At MSU-WP, Knight amassed a record of 676-170-3, earning 10 consecutive Region 16 championships and making 10 consecutive appearances in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Women’s National Volleyball Championship tournament with the Missouri State-West Plains program she began in 1993.
Knight led the Lady Grizzlies to their first NJCAA national tournament in 1999, finishing eighth and after that, returned every season reaching the championship match in 2002 and 2003. She earned 12 Region 16 Coach of the Year honors, 10 NJCAA District Coach of the Year honors, two American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Tachikara Junior College/Community College Midwest Region Coach-of-the-Year honors, and was elected to the NJCAA Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005. Knight also was named “Most Caring Coach” by USA Today Weekend Magazine in 2005, and, most recently, was inducted to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in February 2008.
She developed 25 NJCAA All-Americans, including 13 first-team selections; and had eight NJCAA Academic All-Americans, including three Distinguished Academic All-Americans. Known for success in the classroom as well, her Grizzly squads received the NJCAA’s Fall Academic Team of the Year honor four times (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006). Inheriting a Texas Tech team which earned a spot on the 2009 AVCA Team Academic Award will help Knight immediately feel right at home with this team.
Prior to leading the MSWP program, Knight coached at the high school level leading West Plains High School to four-consecutive state championships. She has served as coordinator of the Junior Olympic volleyball program and is very respected as one of the nation’s leading developers of talent.
“I would like to thank the search committee, Jared Bruggeman, and Julie Wengert for this opportunity,” Knight said. “Everyone at MSSU made me feel at home and I really liked the atmosphere of the campus.”
Knight played four years at the former Southwest Missouri State University and was inducted into the SMSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.
“I was attracted to Missouri Southern for a lot of reasons,” Knight said. “It is close to family. My husband is from Neosho and all of my family is from Missouri, so it is good to be home. The university is a very good academic school and attractive for a lot of reasons, which will help recruit quality athletes. I also like the size of the campus. The people I met were also very nice and made me feel like this is the place I should be. I also think it is a great place to build a tradition and that is what I would like to see happen.”
Knight and her husband, Paul (an MSSU alum), have two children, Ben and Dustin.