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June 17, 2005

Mercer returns to guide USI volleyball program

EVANSVILLE, Ind.—The University of Southern Indiana Department of Athletics announced that former USI volleyball player Leah Mercer will return to guide the volleyball program in 2005. Mercer takes over for former coach Molly Alvey, who took an assistant coaching position with the University of Mississippi.

A native of Evansville and a 2002 graduate of USI, Mercer served Loyola University (Chicago) as the top assistant coach in 2004. She helped guide the Ramblers to a 22-9 overall record and a 10-4 mark in the Horizon League. Loyola won the Horizon League Tournament championship and qualified for the NCAA Division I Tournament before falling to the University of Wisconsin in the first round last season.

Prior to her one-year stint at Loyola, Mercer spent a year as a graduate assistant coach at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She helped lead the Bobcats to a 28-5 overall record, the Mid-American Conference regular-season and tournament titles, and the program’s first-ever berth in the NCAA I Tournament.

“Leah has helped develop every program she has been associated with into a winner,” USI Director of Athletics Jon Mark Hall said. “She was integral in the NCAA Tournament runs of Ohio University and Loyola University and she is going to help develop our program into a perennial NCAA Tournament championship contender.

“She knows this league and region very well, but most importantly, she loves this University and will work hard to make sure our volleyball program is a program the University community will be proud of,” Hall continued. “I can't tell you how excited we are to have her come back and lead our program.”

Mercer, who started her coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Purdue University in 2002, was a two-time All-GLVC performer and helped lead the Eagles to a three-year record of 61-27, including a 49-14 mark as a junior and senior. She averaged 3.1 kills per game during her three seasons of collegiate volleyball. Mercer also averaged 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in two seasons with USI’s women’s basketball program.

“I am very excited to be coaching at the University of Southern Indiana and my alma mater,” Mercer said. “I’d like to thank the administration for giving me this opportunity. It is great to be back in the USI community where we have so much support for athletics. It is comforting to know that everyone in the USI family is backing you.”

Mercer, who has a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education (Teaching K-12) and a master’s degree in Recreation and Sports Science (Coaching Education), becomes the Screaming Eagles’ 11th head coach in the history of the program. She inherits a squad that was 24-7 overall and 15-1 in the GLVC last season.

The Eagles, who return five starters and nine letterwinners, won the 2004 GLVC regular-season and tournament championships and defeated Ferris State University in the first round of the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Region Tournament before falling to Northwood University in the semi-finals.

“I am going to do my best to continue the success that this program has had during the last five years,” Mercer said.

Dan McDonnell,
USI Sports Information

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