HANCEVILLE – As a senior at West Vigo High in West Terre Haute, Ind., Jessica Coombs was surfing the Internet, interested in trying out for a quality collegiate volleyball program in the South.
Wallace State was the first college result that grabbed her attention.
It’s an Internet search that has paid off extremely well for both Coombs and the Lions. The sophomore libero was a second team All-ACCC/Region 22 selection last season and has excelled even more this season, easily surpassing the Wallace State single season and career digs record.
“I had a few things in mind when I was searching for a strong volleyball team. I wanted it to be in the South because I don’t like to be cold and wanted to try out for a good team. Wallace State was the first school that popped up (during my search),” Coombs said. “It’s been a great transition down here. I’ve had great teammates and won a lot of matches, plus all my friends who visit from home wish they could stay here longer.”
After clinching the program’s fifth consecutive ACCC regular season championship two weeks ago, Coombs and the top-seeded Lions now have their eyes set on a fourth straight ACCC/Region 22 tournament title, beginning Saturday at noon at Gadsden State’s Beck Field House. Wallace State plays the Snead State-Jeff Davis winner in its first match and needs only three wins to advance to the NJCAA Division I tournament for the fourth year in a row and 13th time in school history.
Coombs’ 570 digs this season easily exceed the mark set by Callie Miller last year (463) and Haley Findley in 2008 (401). Coombs is third nationally in digs and has 208 more than the second-best mark in the conference. She has also passed Miller in career digs with 805.
Coombs played multiple positions last season for Wallace State, but was willing to shift exclusively to libero during practice last spring, realizing it would effectively aid the squad this year.
“I personally felt like I needed to step up my own game and be more of a leader on the court this season. Last year I played defense some and felt I did well, but also had a chance to terminate the ball on a kill. Now, as a libero, it’s different because you definitely have to be a verbal leader and set up your teammates every point in order to terminate the ball,” Coombs said.
Added Wallace State coach Randy Daniel: “Jess does a great job for us. Her effort in practice and during the games is always 110 percent, plus she has a great personality and is a great teammate. She’s everything you want in a defensive player. After Callie (Miller) left we had had to have somebody play libero and Jess has done a great job. We have the three leading hitters in the conference in kills and one reason is because Jess does a great job on defense setting them up.”
When Coombs visited Hanceville during her college tryout, Daniel had an inclination she could be a positive influence on and off the court.
“Sometimes it’s taking a stab in the dark, but thank goodness I acted on Jess’s interest here. I sensed her good attitude then, and now it takes the confidence she has and her outgoing spirit to succeed at her position. She’s willing to give a full speed effort at everything she does.”
Coombs and fellow sophomores EA Shaver, Erica Baker, Bekah Myers and Maegan Belcher have been a part of 72 wins in less than two seasons and each have contributed significantly to the team’s 30-6 record entering the ACCC/Region 22 tournament.
With another state championship, Wallace State will advance to the NJCAA Division I tournament at West Plains, Mo., from Nov. 15-17.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit wallacestate.edu.
Wallace State Community College
P.O. Box 2000, Hanceville, AL 35077
1-866-350-9722 Direct line: 256-352-8443
Visit us online at www.wallacestate.edu