Former THS coach leads Washburn to best finish ever
Former Tonganoxie High volleyball coach Chris Herron led Washburn University to its best NCAA Volleyball National Championship finish in school history Friday at Lee Arena in Topeka.
Washburn ended its season losing in the semifinals against Western Washington (23-30, 30-23, 30-26, 30-20).
Concordia-St. Paul defeated Western Washington to win the championship match.
Most notably, Washburn defeated Tampa, ranked No. 1 in the country, Thursday night to advance to the semifinals.
"This place was rockin'," Herron said of the record-number 2,231 fans in attendance. "It was loud and obnoxious. It was the best atmosphere I've ever been around as a coach."
Senior Tessa Jones had a career-high 30 kills and 25 digs in the same match against Tampa.
"That's off the charts," Herron said. "That's sick. This was the first year Tessa's been here that she hasn't been hurt. This is a kid that's clearly one of the best two to three in the country."
Jones played at Kansas University her freshman year, then transferred to Washburn for her final three years. In three years, Jones ranks fourth on the Washburn all-time kills list with 1,511.
Herron, who has been the head coach at Washburn since 2002, led the Lady Blues to a 38-4 record this season. The 38 victories are the fourth-most in school history. The four losses are the second fewest in school history.
"I don't look at it as a personal thing," Herron said. "We all got along so well. We all had one goal and one focus. We were all on the same street going the same way."
Herron coached at Tonganoxie from the fall of 1986 to fall of 1998, where he compiled a record of 366-88. The Chieftains made the state tournament during the Herron era in 1988, 1991 and 1993. The highest Herron placed at state with the Chieftains was fourth, in 1988 and 1993. Tonganoxie advanced to the sub-state finals in 10 of Herron's 12 years.