Cross Court

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Coach Chris Willis fires up the troops.

New head coach brings winning record and a fresh game plan.

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By Lauren Biggers

This season’s Wildcat volleyball team is sporting new faces on and off the court, starting with new head coach Chris Willis. The seventh head coach in the program’s history, Willis was an assistant at Davidson under Lisa Marston for two seasons, from 1995 to 1997.

Willis spent the past seven seasons as head volleyball coach at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo., where he led the Lions to their first NCAA Tournament bid and a Top-25 ranking for only the second time in program history. As that program’s third winningest coach, he led four of his seven teams to rankings in the regional polls. In 2006, he led the Lions to a 23–12 record, a national ranking, an appearance in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association Tournament, and a berth in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional.

His teams have also been successful off the court, with 40 student athletes on the MIAA Commissioners Academic Honor Roll.

Not everybody on the court for the Wildcats is new.

There’s the experienced senior trio of Madison Benedict, Erin Lupfer, and Christine Perzinski. Juniors Molly Crenshaw and Ariel Ley have increased roles, and sophomores Tindall Sewell and Caroline Brown stepped into pivotal roles. While there was a learning curve, Willis brought a forward-looking approach to his game plan.

“The girls have embraced that this is their team now,” Willis said. “They aren’t looking back, but are looking forward to the future.

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