NIAGARA UNIV., N.Y. - (Niagara Release) After taking the Niagara volleyball program to heights it has never reached, head coach Susan Clements has decided to leave Monteagle Ridge to become the head coach at Wright State University.
“My experience at Niagara has been nothing short of amazing,” Clements said. “The administration and the University have been great to work for and I am really happy to have had the time here at Niagara. It has been truly magical here with the wonderful young ladies that have made me a better coach. I will miss everyone at Niagara and I am glad I was able to get my master’s degree here and always be a part of the Niagara Tradition. I want to thank (President) Father Levesque, (Director of Athletics) Ed McLaughlin and (Associate Athletic Director) Theresa Berg for giving me the opportunity to coach volleyball and make a difference.”
Clements built a once doormat program into the class of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). Clements went 87-70 in five seasons at the helm and leaves as the program’s winningest head coach. Clements led the Purple Eagles to three MAAC Tournament titles (2009-11), two MAAC regular season titles (2010 and 2011) and was named the 2009 MAAC and National Coach of the Year by College Volleyball Update.
Clements led Niagara to another historic season as the 2011 Purple Eagles claimed their third straight MAAC championship to become the fourth program in conference history to win three straight conference tournament titles. Niagara finished the season tying a school record with a 25-9 overall record and a 17-1 conference mark, which were both set in 2010, and ended the season with a third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Purple Eagles’ 33-match win streak was second in conference history.
In 2010, Clements led Niagara to a second consecutive MAAC Championship, becoming the first Niagara athletics program to win back-to-back conference tournament championships, while claiming the program’s first-ever regular season title. Niagara was awarded with its second straight NCAA Tournament bid where it competed well against three-time defending national champion Penn State and eventual champion that season.
In 2009, she led the Purple Eagles to a winning record of 23-9, their first MAAC Championship and the team’s first NCAA Tournament appearance. In 2008, she guided the nation’s youngest team (four sophomores and six freshmen) to six victories. In her first season in 2007, Clements doubled the team’s previous win total and tied the then-school record for conference victories.
Niagara had several individuals claim awards during Clement’s tenure: 11 All-MAAC Team honorees, seven MAAC All-Tournament Team recipients, three MAAC Tournament Most Outstanding Players (Kari Honomichl – 2011, Hannah Hedrick – 2009 and 2010), MAAC Setter of the Year (Michelle James 2009 and 2010), MAAC Defensive Player of the Year (Hedrick 2009 and 2011), two MAAC Rookie of the Years (James - 2009, Ellen Senf - 2010) and MAAC Libero of the Year (Sam Morgan 2011).
Niagara has excelled in the classroom under her tutelage. The Purple Eagles placed 30 student-athletes on the MAAC All-Academic Team since 2007. The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) rewarded Niagara as one of the 92 Division I programs to earn the prestigious team academic award for the third straight season (2008-10) at the end of 2010. The team’s Fall 2011 grade-point average was the highest GPA amongst the 18 athletic programs at Niagara for the seventh straight semester.
The team has been active in the community. In 2010, Clements initiated the “Leukemia & Lymphoma Awareness Night” and partnered with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Western New York where they raised funds and participated in the “Light the Night Walk”.
"We will miss Susan quite a bit, but remain proud of her for reaching a new point in her coaching career,” Niagara University Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin said. “She is a tremendous coach and an even better person who mentored our student-athletes every day. We will find a new head coach who can continue the progress Susan made with the Niagara University volleyball program and keep our momentum going in the championship direction. We wish her all the best and will cheer for her."
Clements came to Niagara from Georgetown College in Kentucky where she was the head coach of the Lady Tiger program in 2005 and 2006, leading them to consecutive NAIA National Championship Tournament appearances.
A 2002 Georgetown College graduate, Clements spent one season as assistant coach after a standout career as a Lady Tiger. During her three seasons, she was named Mid-South Conference and Region XI Player of the Year twice. Clements was also a two-time First Team AVCA All American.
Clements earned a Master of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Niagara in May 2011.
Niagara will begin a national search for head coach immediately.