Lauren Steinbrecher, formerly Lauren Sauer, was named volleyball head coach at James Madison on Jan. 25, 2010.
Steinbrecher had immediate success in her first year with the Dukes, compiling a 22-8 overall record and a 10-4 mark in Colonial Athletic Association play. Her team garnered the second-seed in the CAA tournament, their first appearance since 2007, before falling in five sets to Northeastern. For her efforts she was named the CAA co-Coach of the Year as well as well as the Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) State Coach of the Year.
In her second season with the Dukes, she led the team to its second consecutive 20-win season, finishing 20-11 overall. It was the first time the team posted back-to-back 20-win seasons since 1999-2000. In CAA play, Madison went 8-6 and reached the CAA tournament semifinals for the second straight year. In the quarterfinals, Madison swept Georgia State 3-0 for its first win in the CAA tournament since 2007.
Madison's third under Steinbrecher was marred by injuries, dropping it to 13-16 overall and 5-7 in the CAA. The season was highlighted by taking a set off then-16th-ranked and national quarterfinalist Minnesota. In the CAA Championship, the Dukes rallied from a 2-0 deficit to upset third-ranked Northeastern, 3-2.
Steinbrecher advanced the Dukes to the CAA tournament for the fourth straight season in 2013 after going 8-6 in CAA play to finish tied for third. It was the first time JMU advanced to four straight conference tournaments since 1997 through 2000. It finished the regular season by winning three straight against CAA foes and four of their last five. That included completing season sweeps against Hofstra and William & Mary.
Under her tutelage, 13 Dukes have received all CAA honors, highlighted by first team honors for Lindsay Callahan (2010), Natalie Abel (2011) and Lizzy Briones (2013). Abel also added VaSID State Player of the Year in 2011, becoming only the second player in JMU history to receive that honor. Danielle Erb was named All-CAA in all three seasons she played for Steinbrecher, becoming just the second player in school history to be named All-CAA four times.
The 2010 JMU volleyball team recorded the seventh-best winning percentage in school history (.733) and the fifth-best since moving to Division I in 1986. The Dukes were especially strong at home where they compiled a 13-1 mark which ties for the second-best home mark in school history.
Steinbrecher also authored one of the best turnarounds in the nation taking over a team that went 11-19 in 2009 and guiding them to an 11-win improvement in 2010. That +11 win differential was the sixth-best turnaround in the country, while the .366 improvement in winning percentage was the fourth-best in the nation.
JMU Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne announced the hiring of Lauren Steinbrecher in Jan. 2010. She replaced Disa Garner as the head of the James Madison volleyball program.“We are extremely excited to welcome Lauren to JMU,” stated Bourne. “She is a bright young coach with experience at the highest level as both a coach and a student-athlete. She has demonstrated success in all areas of recruiting student-athletes, teaching the sport, and communicating with her players. Lauren will be a great fit to guide the JMU volleyball program.”
“I want to thank Jeff Bourne, Geoff Polglase and Shelia Moorman for the honor of leading the James Madison volleyball program,” commented Steinbrecher. “James Madison’s combination of campus beauty, rich athletic tradition and high academic standards were an incredible draw for me. My goal is to return the Dukes to a championship level program and with everything this great university has to offer and the type of high integrity student-athlete’s JMU draws, the sky’s the limit. I’m very excited to hit the ground running.”
Identified in 2009 by the American Volleyball Coaches Association as one of the “30 best coaches in the country under the age of 30,” Steinbrecher came to JMU following three years as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Kentucky.
Steinbrecher joined UK head coach Craig Skinner’s staff in the spring of 2007 and made her impact immediately, helping the Wildcats to steady improvement in each season. After a 19-12 season in 2006 prior to her arrival, Kentucky went 22-10 in 2007 followed by 26-6 with a 17-3 mark in the Southeastern Conference in 2008. In 2009, the Wildcats went 29-5 overall and 17-3 in the SEC. They advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA Championships and finished the year ranked 12th in the AVCA coaches poll. Steinbrecher's recruiting efforts included landing the 13th-ranked class in the country in 2009.
Prior to her time at Kentucky, Steinbrecher competed professionally for one year in Almeria, Spain. That followed a stellar four-year collegiate career at Georgia Tech, with the Yellow Jackets reaching the NCAA Championships all four years during her career, including trips to the quarterfinals in 2003 and the round of 16 in 2004. Georgia Tech won a pair of Atlantic Coast Conference regular season championships (2003, 04) and also won the tournament championship in 2002.
Steinbrecher was an AVCA honorable mention All-American in 2003, was named All-ACC in 2002 and 2003, and became one of just two players in Yellow Jacket history to earn ACC Rookie of the Year honors in 2001. She was also ACC All-Tournament in 2003 and earned five other all-tournament accolades, including MVP of the 2003 Georgia Tech Invitational.
In the Yellow Jacket career record books, Steinbrecher ranks second in solo blocks with 99, fifth with 1,706 career kills, fifth in kills per set (3.60), eighth in total blocks (368), and ninth in block assists (269). She also ranks fifth (541 in 2003) and eighth (506 in 2004) in season kill totals as well as second (38 in 2004) and fifth (34 in 2002) in season solo blocks. In 2002, she etched her name in the NCAA record books with the second-best hitting percentage in a match all-time, connecting on 17 kills in 18 swings for a .944 attack rate.
Also a stellar student, Steinbrecher was named to the ACC Honor Roll during each of her four years at Georgia Tech. She was honored as an ESPN The Magazine District III University Division Academic All-District performer in both 2003 and 2004, honoring academic and athletic excellence among all Division I volleyball players from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. She was also named Academic All-ACC in 2005 and was a Dean’s List student at GT.
Following the completion of her volleyball career with the 2004 season, Steinbrecher continued competition as a student-athlete by joining the Yellow Jacket’s women’s basketball squad for the remainder of the 2004-05 season and the 2005-06 campaign.
Steinbrecher completed her bachelor of science in business management in December of 2005. She is a native of Huntsville, Ala. and resides in Harrisonburg with husband, Casey. The couple was married in early May, 2010.