Bahner a Hall-of-Famer

Former Cowley College volleyball head coach Jenifer Bahner, second from left, who guided the Lady Tigers to two National championships in a remarkable five-year career in Arkansas City, will be inducted into the NJCAA Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Bahner is currently head coach at Drury University in Springfield, Mo.

File photo by DONITA CLAUSEN

Former Cowley College volleyball head coach Jenifer Bahner was announced as one of three coaches for induction into the NJCAA Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Bahner will be joined by Lisa Stuck of Glendale Community College (Ariz.) and the late Mary Davis of Black Hawk Community College (Ill.).

“I am proud to have coached within the NJCAA and I value the people within their organization that helped me grow as a leader,” Bahner said. “It is such an honor to be recognized and inducted into the Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.”

Bahner made a lasting impact in her five seasons at Cowley. The Kansas City native helped to guide the Lady Tigers to two NJCAA Division II Volleyball national championships (2011, 2013) and posted a career record of 177-16 (.917).

The Baker University alum was hired as a graduate assistant at Pittsburg State in 2007 and spent two seasons on the bench before taking over as the head coach at Cowley at just 24 years of age. In her first season at the helm, the Lady Tigers recorded a 32-5 record and were the runners-up in the national championship match, losing in five sets to Illinois Central.

Two years later, the Lady Tigers captured their illusive first national championship under Bahner, finishing the campaign at 38-2. The second national title and final season under Bahner’s leadership was in 2013, where Cowley defeated Parkland (Ill.) 3-2.

Bahner was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Coach of the Year in 2013. In five seasons under Bahner’s tutelage, Cowley never finished outside the national top three rankings.

The early career success of Bahner was noted by the AVCA as a two-time recipient of the “Thirty Under 30” Award for the top coaches in the nation under the age of 30.

“It is really hard for me to put into words what my time at Cowley meant, as it was five of the best years of my life,” Bahner said. “I am grateful to Tom Saia, Dr. Pat McAtee and Mark Patrick for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing athletic department. Cowley is truly a special place and a huge reason for that comes from the support from the faculty, staff and administrators. I appreciate the sense of community support that has been fostered within Cowley County in respect to the athletic teams and players.” 

Bahner currently coaches at Drury University (Mo.), an NCAA Division II program and has led the Lady Panthers to a 57-34 record in her first three years as head coach. She has led the Lady Panthers to two of their best seasons as an NCAA Division II program.

In 2015, Drury had a third-place finish in the GLVC West with a 21-11 overall record and an 11-7 mark in conference play. The 21 wins were the most since the Lady Panthers became an NCAA D-II program in 1994. The 2016 Lady Panthers placed fourth in the GLVC West with an 11-7 mark, 20-12 overall. 

Bahner has fond memories of the time she spent with Cowley County community members, coaches and athletes who were invested in the team’s success.

“I am thankful for the other coaches, both within my staff of Riann Mullis, but also the other sports who helped me to become the coach I am now by sharing their knowledge,” Bahner said. “Lastly, and most importantly, I am forever honored to have coached such amazing young female athletes. The players I coached had the drive and desire to be the best and that was inspiring for anyone to be around. I am so appreciative of the respect they showed me as a coach and the commitment they showed to our programs betterment. They are the reason I am receiving this amazing honor.”

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