Panthers finish 2012 with a 17-14 record
Panthers win three-of-four final league matches
Panthers enter the weekend in ninth place
Wignot has 15 kills and 11 blocks to lead Pitt
Panthers hit a season-high .333 against St. John's
Toby Rens enters his fifth season at the helm of the University of Pittsburgh women's volleyball program. He is the first coach to earn four consecutive Big East Tournament appearances during his first four years with the Panthers.
During Rens' tenure, Pitt has proven to be a force at the net, posting a 2.42 blocks per set average. The Panthers defense overall has steadily increased as they went from collecting 13.11 digs per set in 2008 to 14.68 in 2011.
Rens has also guided three student-athletes to American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-America status since 2008. First, Meagan Dooley captured AVCA All-America First Team honors in 2009, while libero Michelle Rossi garnered honorable mention accolades. This past season, Kiesha Leggs was selected to the AVCA All-America honorable mention list after being named an AVCA All-District awardee.
Additionally, Leggs became just the fifth Panther in the last 15 seasons to tally more than 400 kills and 100 blocks in a single-season.
Under Rens' guidance, multiple players have been named to All-Big East teams while Dooley was a Big East Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2009. That year, Dooley was also the recipient of Pitt's prestigious Blue-Gold and Panther Awards. She is only the secondstudent-athlete to ever accomplish that feat. Later, Amy Town (2010) became the second-consecutive member of the volleyball team to etch her name in the coveted Pitt Varsity Walk.
During the 2009 season, Rens led the Panthers to their best record since 2006, posting a 20-11 mark and going 12-2 in conference play to finish tied for second.
The 12 Big East wins were more than any other Pitt team has recorded in the program's history since conference play began in 1990. In just his second season with the team, Rens compiled an overall record of 37-25 for a .676 winning percentage to go along with a stellar 20-8 league record.
The 2009 season was filled with accomplishments including Big East Player of the Year (Dooley) and Big East Libero of the Year (Rossi). Pitt set a school record for straight-set shutouts in conference play (eight). Additionally, a win over No. 18 Wichita State led to the Panthers earning votes in the Top 25 Coaches Poll that year.
The Panthers finished the season with a top 50 national ranking, according to the final NCAA Division I Volleyball RPI. Pitt was ranked seventh in blocks per set (2.86), 24th in assists per set (13.04), tied for 25th in kills per set and 38th in hitting percentage (.247) among NCAA Division I teams.
In his first season with the Panthers, Rens guided Pitt to a quarterfinal upset over No. 2 seed and regular-season champion Cincinnati. Trailing 2-0 in the five-set thriller, Pitt rallied back to win the three games that followed intermission. The Panthers ended a 15-match win streak for the Bearcats and secured their first conference tournament victory since defeating Syracuse (3-0) in 2004.
Rens also emphasized the importance of academics as the women's volleyball team garnered the athletic department's Top Women's Team Award and the Overall Top GPA Award for the third consecutive year in 2008.
Before Rens came to Pitt, he developed the Long Island University women's volleyball program as a perennial NCAA Tournament team and Northeast Conference power. Rens completed a four-year tenure at LIU and witnessed the Blackbirds earn Northeast Conference titles and automatic NCAA Tournament berths each season. LIU averaged 26.5 victories a year under Rens, including the winningest season in LIU history: a 32-7 mark in 2004.
Rens coached three Northeast Conference Player of the Year honorees at LIU, while also being tabbed the 2005 NEC Coach of the Year. Overall, 18 LIU players earned All-NEC accolades under his guidance.
LIU also performed exceptionally in the classroom under Rens' watch. The Blackbirds earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Academic Award three times (2007-08, 2006-07 and 2004-05) and regularly boasted one of the highest team grade-point averages at LIU, twice taking top honors. Two of his student-athletes were named to the 2007 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Team.
Prior to LIU, Rens served as head coach at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore for three years (2001-03), where he orchestrated a dramatic turnaround. Prior to his arrival, the Hawks had not won a match in over two years. During his debut season, UMES went 3-28 before surging to a 20-15 mark and earning a berth in the conference final the following year. For his efforts in directing the biggest one-year turnaround, in NCAA Division I history, Rens was named the 2002 MEAC Coach of the Year. The Hawks went 46-27 over his final two seasons, including a 26-12 mark in 2003.
Rens' other head coaching post came at Northern Michigan University, where he compiled a two-year 58-17 mark and guided the Wildcats to a pair of NCAA Division II Tournaments and two Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) regular-season titles.
In addition to his head coaching stints, Rens served as an assistant at Texas Tech (2000), George Washington (1994-97), Tennessee Tech (1993) and his alma mater, Morningside College (1992).
He is highly active in national volleyball circles, serving as a member of the NCAA Division I Head Coaches Committee and as a voter in the USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll.
A native of Sioux City, Iowa, Rens graduated from Morningside in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in physical education.
|All-Americans/First Team All-Conference Performers Under Rens|
|2011||Kiesha Leggs||Pitt||AVCA Honorable Mention All-American/First Team All-BIG EAST|
|2010||Amy Town||Pitt||First Team All-BIG EAST|
|2009||Meagan Dooley||Pitt||Third Team All-American/First Team All-BIG EAST|
|2009||Michelle Rossi||Pitt||AVCA Honorable Mention All-American/First Team All-BIG EAST|
|2008||Kelly Campbell||Pitt||First Team All-BIG EAST|
|2007||Shelby Heggie||LIU||NEC Player of the Year/First Team All-NEC|
|2007||Svetlana Simic||LIU||NEC Libero of the Year/First Team All-NEC|
|2007||Martina Racic||LIU||First Team All-NEC|
|2007||Martina Wagner||LIU||First Team All-NEC|
|2006||Martina Wagner||LIU||NEC Player of the Year/First Team All-NEC|
|2006||Shelby Heggie||LIU||First Team All-NEC|
|2005||Lizelle Jackson||LIU||NEC Player of the Year/First Team All-NEC|
|2005||Jade Gold||LIU||First Team All-NEC|
|2005||Martina Wagner||LIU||First Team All-NEC|
|2004||Cristina Pintille||LIU||NEC Championship Most Outstanding Player|
|2003||Jana Milin||UMES||MEAC Player of the Year|
|2002||Jana Milin||UMES||MEAC Player of the Year|
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