Nov. 18, 2013
FRISCO – Seven former Lamar volleyball players and one former coach were recognized for their contributions to the Southland Conference as the league unveiled its 50th Anniversary Honor Roll on Monday.
Katrinka Jo Crawford was one of seven coaches to take home the honors, and she undoubtedly ranks as one of the most important in conference history. The former Utah State standout took over a losing Lamar team in 1981, and brought the it to the NCAA Tournament in both 1984 and 1985 before guiding the team through four seasons in the American South Conference and five in the Sun Belt.
Crawford took home Southland Coach of the Year honors in both 1983 and 1984 after leading the team to a pair of conference tournament crowns. She still ranks as LU’s all-time wins leader with 340 over 15 seasons. Crawford returned to the conference in 1996 as the coach of UTSA, and following her untimely passing in 2001, the Southland’s annual coach of the year award was named in her honor.
Two of her most prolific players also earned a spot on the honor roll. Liz Blue, who played from 1980-83, put together a stellar final season in Beaumont, hammering down 593 kills to earn Southland Player of the Year and a spot on the Volleyball Monthly All-American Team. As a junior, she earned the conference’s Blocker of the Year award, and her 484 career blocks rank second in school history.
Ruby Randolph picked up where Blue left off in 1984, setting a school record that still stands with 664 kills. She also earned the league’s Player of the Year award and finished her career with back-to-back showings on the All-Southland First Team and All-Tournament Team. She is second all-time in kills with 1,749.
Veronica Carter was also a very important cog in those teams. She too was named to the honor roll after taking home first team recognition in both 1984 and 1985 and racking up 1,209 kills, which ranks eighth.
The Lady Cardinals rejoined the Southland in 1998, and a year later, one of the best players in school history stepped onto the floor for the first time. Natalie Sarver, who earned all-conference honors all four years, ranks as LU’s all-time leader in both kills and digs with 1,906 and 1,613, respectively. After placing on the third and second team in her first two years, she earned first team accolades for her last two, which also included the 2002 Player of the Year award.
“I never had an opportunity to coach Natalie, but she was the best player in the Southland in her time at Lamar,” said current LU head coach Justin Gibert, who spent the 2002 season on the staff at UTSA. “She made a great decision to stay close to home. There were some great players here at that time, but she, far-and-away, had the biggest impact. She was great defensively, and she could terminate well on the front row.”
A trio of teammates rounded out the honorees for the Lady Cards as Molli Abel, Kaci Brewer and Adrianne Meengs all made the list.
Abel was the key player in leading LU to a conference championship in 2007, earning Player of the Year in the process. She hit a blistering .377 for the season and ranks ninth all-time in kills with 1,286.
“Molli was an instrumental player for us,” Gibert explained. “She did a lot of things that helped transform our program. She had high expectations, and helped the team capture her vision to win the 2007 title. She had a tremendous impact for us, and we don’t win it without her.”
Brewer and Meengs, who both played from 2006-09, led the team back to the NCAA Tournament the next year. Brewer, a two-time All-Southland member, earned the 2008 Southland Tournament MVP, and Meengs, who ranks fifth in school history with 3,284 assists, earned the 2007 Setter of the Year Award. She was also a two-time All-Southland performer.
“Adrianne was the most-accomplished setter that I’ve coached, and Kaci was the most-accomplished outside hitter,” Gibert revealed. “Adrianne had great talent, and we knew it right off the bat. She was the most dominant setter in the Southland during her time, and she was also very dangerous offensively. Kaci’s best asset was her consistency, and she really carried us in 2008. We didn’t start the conference tournament as well as we would’ve like, and she almost single-handedly set us up to win it.”