SIU Hall of Famer Sonya Locke enters her 14th season as head coach and 21st season as a Saluki volleyball coach in the fall of 2004.
Southern's lone volleyball All-American has a passion for Saluki volleyball, spending more than half of her life and 25 of the last 26 years involved in Southern Illinois volleyball as a head coach, assistant coach or player.
In 2003, Locke reached another milestone, when she became just the second Southern Illinois coach to reach 175 wins, following a 3-2 win over Southeast Missouri State on September 23.
Her 179 wins (179-211 overall and 95-131 in Gateway/MVC play) at SIU ranks her as the second winningest coach in school history, behind Debbie Hunter.
Locke also went 35-5 in her first year as a head coach at Kankakee (Ill.) Community College in 1990 before returning to SIU as head coach in 1991.
Following a 7-23 mark with 11 freshman, her 2003 squad continued SIU's 22-year streak of post-season honors, when freshman rightside hitter Haley Hann was named to the Missouri Valley Conference All-Freshman Team. Hann joins Kristie Kemner, who played for Locke from 1999-2002, as just the second SIU freshman to earn the honor.
Since the Gateway was formed in 1982, SIU has placed an athlete on the Gateway or MVC all-conference first team, second team, honorable mention team or all-freshman team every season, including Locke's 13 years as head coach.
In addition, sophomore Holly Marita finished in the MVC top ten in overall assists (8th, 8.73 apg) and MVC-only assists (8th, 8.09 apg) and junior Marissa Washington finished ninth (.328) in MVC-only hitting percentage. Washington also tied Locke for fifth on the SIU all-time block assists list with 10 in a match against Buffalo on September 5, 2003.
Harman, SIU's lone graduate from the 2003 squad, left her mark with 64 attempts against Buffalo, which was sixth-best in the MVC and tied for seventh-best all-time in a match in SIU history.
Academically, Locke's student-athletes continue to be successful and consistently earn scholar-athlete awards, and 2003 was no different.
Kelly Harman and Erica Miller were both named to the Missouri Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete First-Team, by a vote of the league's sports information directors.
Harman had a 3.65 grade point average in civil engineering and Miller held a 3.84 grade point average in the rehabilitation services and physical therapy assistant program when the awards were announced.
The 2003 Saluki volleyball team carried a 3.40 team grade point average in spring semester (4th among 16 athletic teams) and a 3.24 grade point average over the 2003-04 school year.
Eleven of Locke's twelve returning athletes earned a 3.0 grade point average or better during the spring 2004 semester, including four athletes who had a perfect 4.00 grade point average, and seven members who earned Dean's List recognition. Eight of the twelve returners have a 3.0 cumulative grade point average or better.
Just two years ago, Locke led a team that was picked eighth in the 2002 MVC Preseason Coaches Poll to a a 23-10 overall mark (SIU's best in 17 years) and first-ever MVC Tournament final appearance.
Her 12-6 MVC mark that season and third place finish tied for her best league finish as a coach as well as SIU's best MVC record (1998).
The 23-10 mark was Locke's personal best and earned her the 2002 Missouri Valley Conference and National Black Coaches Association Female Coach-of-the-Year, the first time an SIU volleyball coach won either award. Her 2002 team broke a school record when Kemner and Schultz were both named to the MVC All-Tournament Team.
They also tied a record with three athletes earning all-MVC honors and two earning first team honors, when Kemner (1st Team), Schultz (1st Team) and Follett (2nd Team) earned all-MVC honors that season.
In her first year as head coach at SIU in 1991, Locke made history by winning three tournaments during a single season. Her 1998 team went 19-12 and 12-6 in Missouri Valley Conference play, which was the most wins under her tenure before the 2002 season and the most at SIU since the 1986 season.
In 1999, two of her former players made history when setter Debbie Barr became the first Saluki and only third MVC player to top 5000 assists. Barr also became the second player in school history to be named the league's Newcomer-of-the-Year. Kemner became the first Saluki to make the MVC all-freshman team in 1999.
Locke's former athletes have left numerous marks all over the SIU record book, most recently in 2002, when Kemner ended her four years with SIU career records in kills (1660), attempts (4359), digs (1355) and double-doubles (60). She also set single season records in kills (573), attempts (1450), digs (503) and attempts in a match (74).
Kemner's 573 kills (3rd), 1450 attempts (5th) and 503 digs (8th) in a season and 4359 career attempts (7th), 1660 career kills (8th) and 1355 career digs (13th) all rank in the top 15 in MVC history. Her 30 digs against SMS in the 2002 MVC Tournament semifinal win over SMS is second in MVC Tournament history.
Schultz ended her career in 2002 with a .311 career hitting percentage, which is second at SIU behind Locke (.320) and third in MVC history. Her 27 kills versus SMS in SIU's 2002 semifinal win at the MVC Tournament ties her for seventh in MVC Tournament history.
Schultz hit .355 (2nd to Locke's .369) and .338 her final two seasons at SIU, which rank second and third in school history. The .355 (T-3rd) and .338 (19th) marks are both top twenty in MVC history.
Follett set the new assist record at SIU in 2002 with 1444 assists, which is also seventh in a single season in the MVC. Her 63 assists in the MVC Tournament semifinal win over SMS ties her for eighth in MVC Tournament play.
Follett also continued SIU's tradition of excellent student-athletes when she was named to the Verizon Academic All-American First Team with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, just the fifth volleyball player to earn first team academic all-American honors.
Under Locke, Follett became the first Saluki volleyball player to earn the honor since Martha Firnhaber earned the second of her two first team academic all-American honors in Locke's first year as coach in 1991.
Follett graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade point average and was named to the Verizon Academic District V First Team with Kemner and Schultz in 2002, another SIU first.
Locke also coached the 1991 Gateway Conference Player of the Year -- Lori Simpson -- and two other all-league selections during her first year alone. In the 12 seasons since then, Locke has had at least one player garner all-league accolades.
In 1994, Deb Heyne became Locke's second player to be named first-team all-conference two years in a row, joining former teammate Dana Olden, who accomplished the feat in the 1991-92 seasons. Kemner, a 2002 all-MVC first-team pick, became the third Saluki to earn the honor two years in a row (2001-2002) under Locke.
As a player, Locke knows what it means and takes to be successful. The South Bend, Ind. native was known as an intense competitor and was a four-year starter on teams that averaged 23 wins a year. She still holds four school records including the mark for attack percentage in a career (.320) and season (.369) and total blocks (175) and block assists (140) in a season.
Locke won numerous awards at SIUC such as Illinois AIAW all-state selection, silver medalist at the 1981 National Sports Festival, AIAW All-American, SIUC Female Athlete of the Year, Gateway all-conference and Tournament MVP as a senior and the Conference Player of the Decade. She also served as an alternate for the U.S. team at the World University Games and is the first and only Saluki volleyball All-American (1981). Locke was inducted into the SIUC Hall of Fame in 1988.
Locke has also been a head coach for the Southern Region in the Prairie State Games (four years) and was instrumental in the development of SIU's successful summer camp volleyball program, which attracts hundreds of young girls every summer.
Locke is a 1983 graduate of Southern Illinois with a bachelor's degree in Journalism.
*at Kankakee Community College (1990)
Head Coach Southern Illinois University (1991-present) *Kankakee Community College (1990)
Assistant Coach Southern Illinois University (1984-89)
Graduate Assistant Southern Illinois University (1983)
|# 75||Saint Louis||10-25-95|
|# 150||Air Force||08-30-02|
|# 175||SE Missouri St.||09-23-03|