Knight new RHS volleyball head coach.

Rolla High School replaced its volleyball head coach who had a state championship winning resume with one who has a hall of fame resume.

During its regular meeting on Thursday the Rolla Board of Education approved the hiring of Hall of Famer Trish Knight as the new RHS volleyball head coach.

Knight replaces Julie Carver, who resigned two weeks ago to accept the volleyball head coaching position at Lee’s Summit High School. RHS acted very quickly in bringing in a quality replacement.

Prior to coming to Rolla, Carver won state championships as Holden High School’s head coach. In her two seasons as RHS coach she dramatically turned around Lady Bulldog volleyball fortunes. Last season the squad finished with a 24-12 record - one of the best marks in program history.
Carver wanted to find a job closer to her mother, who has been ill. “My parents and family were key,” Carver said. “I absolutely loved it here in Rolla - the kids and the people who I work with. But family comes first. (Knight) will do a great job here. I’m excited for Rolla.”

Indeed, it seems RHS landed on its feet with the hiring of Knight.

A native of Licking, Mo. and a 1980 graduate of Missouri State (then Southwest Missouri State), Knight has been considered one of the nation’s top volleyball coaches and leading developers of talent. She won four consecutive Missouri Class 4 state championships and two 3rd-place state trophies as coach of the West Plains Lady Zizzers.

And in 1993 she began the volleyball program at the Missouri State-West Plains junior college. While with the MSWP Grizzlies, she amassed an eye-popping 676-170-3 record, winning 16 regional championships and making 10 NJCAA Division I National Tournaments. While there she developed 10 NJCAA All-Americas and was twice named NJCAA Coach of the Year.

She has also served as coordinator of the Junior Olympic volleyball program.

After leaving Missouri State-West Plains, Knight spent two seasons each as volleyball head coach at the Big 12 Conference’s Texas Tech and NCAA Division II Missouri Southern.

Her won-loss record suffered while a part of major rebuilding efforts with Texas Tech and Missouri Southern. She was 5-44 at Texas Tech and 5-55 at Missouri Southern.

“Actually I thought we were about to turn the corner at Texas Tech; we won the first match in the conference tournament that they had won in three years,” Knight said. “But I had to get back closer to home. And at Missouri Southern, the rebuilding project was much larger that I had expected.”

Knight had been briefed on the RHS program by several friends she has in Rolla, including Jim and Stephanie Pritchett, RHS Athletic Director Cathy Shoup and Carver.

While at West Plains High School Knight coached former RHS volleyball head coach Stephanie Pritchett.

Knight’s awards are many. She was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2008, the same year that Rolla’s John Brown was inducted. She was a four-year standout volleyball player at Missouri State and was inducted in that school’s athletic hall of fame in 1992. She was elected to the NJCAA Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005, the same year she was named Most Caring Coach by USAToday Weekend Magazine.

“That was a fun night,” Knight said of her Missouri Sports Hall of Fame induction. “I’ve known John Brown for years; he played basketball at Missouri with my cousin. And he was good friends with Steve Hauck, who I knew from Licking.”

“Julie did a tremendous job in her two years here,” Shoup said of Carver. “She really turned the program around. We hated to lose her. But to replace her with someone like Trish Knight, the program will continue to grow. Julie was excited to see us hire her and we’re really excited to have her on staff.”

“She has had past relationships with Cathy Shoup and (RHS Principal) Jim Pritchett, so I can’t take any credit for this hire,” said Rolla Superintendent of Schools Dr. Aaron Zalis of Knight. “She actually coached Stephanie Pritchett and Jim also knows her well. We were trying to help Coach Carver get back home to be with her mother.

“Coach Carver and Coach Knight know each other. As a matter of fact I think one of the better players Coach Knight has had was one of Coach Carver’s products.”

With the board of education just starting to offer 2014-15 contracts and accept resignations and retirements, Zalis said it isn’t set in stone where Knight will teach, although he believes she will also replace Carver as physical education teacher at Truman Elementary School.

During the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years Knight has been substitute teaching, officiating, giving lessons and working with club teams from her home in Carthage.

She said she is excited about returning to coaching at the high school level. And she won’t be wading through a rebuilding year this time, as the Lady Bulldogs return all but two seniors from last season’s squad, including all-district hitter Aarika Froehlich along with fellow letterwinners Kelsi James, Jessi Kaczmarek, Sofie Luna, Vasilisa Shamina, Cambria Ryckman, Brynn Proffitt, Caroline Victor and Aideen McEnaney, among others.

“I’m really tired of being on the road recruiting,” Knight said. “I really enjoy the high school atmosphere. I love high school kids - I tend to get along with high school kids better. It gives me a lot more reward, working with them.

“(At Rolla High) I know Julie has done a great job. I’ve known her for a long time. One of my first junior college All-Americans played for her at Holden.”

Next Friday Knight is scheduled to be in Rolla to meet with her new Lady Bulldog players. “Coach Shoup is setting that up,” she said. “I’ll be there whatever time she tells me to meet with the kids.”

And Knight will soon begin work with Shoup and officials from the local club volleyball program to set up clinics and camps.

“You’re going to have to play club volleyball these days,” Knight said. “It’s just something you’ve got to do to have a good team. I hope to get with those people and help the club team if I can.”

Knight and her husband, Paul, have two children, Ben and Dustin.

The Trish Knight File:                                                               Coaching Accomplishments
*Four consecutive state championships at West Plains High School
*Two Class 4 third-place finishes at West Plains High School
*Began volleyball program at Missouri State-West Plains junior college in 1993
*676-170-3 record at Mo. State-West Plains
*16 regional championships at Mo. State-West Plains
*10 NJCAA National Tourney berths
*Coached 10 NJCAA All-Americas
*Past Coordinator, Junior Olympic Volleyball
*NCAA Division I volleyball head coach two seasons at Texas Tech
*NCAA Division II volleyball head coach two seasons at Missouri Southern
*11-time NJCAA Region 16 Coach of the Year
*Eight-time NJCAA District H Coach of the Year
*NJCAA District N Coach of the Year, 2004
*Two-time NJCAA Volleyball Coach of the Year
*1992 Missouri State Athletic Hall of Fame inductee
*2005 NJCAA Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame inductee
*2005 USAToday Weekend Magazine’s National Most Caring Coach Award
*2008 Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee