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Disa Garner
Position: Head Coach
Alma Mater: Illinois, B.S. '88, M.S. '92

Phone: 540.568.6463

E-mail: garnerda@jmu.edu

 

Disa Garner wrapped up her 10th season directing the women's volleyball program at James Madison University in 2009.  She has recorded seven winning seasons during her 10-year tenure beginning in 2000. 

 

In her 10 seasons, the Dukes have claimed one Colonial Athletic Association title, appeared in the NCAA tournament, advanced to the league championship match twice, and posted an overall record of 157-129.  The Dukes have won an impressive 70 percent (93-40) of their home matches and have laid claim to five regular-season tournaments.  JMU players have received 20 All-CAA honors, six All-CAA rookie-team honors, 15 All-State laurels, one CAA Defensive Player of the Year award, and one CAA Rookie of the Year award since the 2000 season.

 

One of Garner’s main priorities is for her team to perform as a champion both on the court and in the classroom.  Garner’s teams have posted a 3.00 grade-point-average nearly every semester since her arrival, including a program-record 3.328 g.p.a. during the Fall of 2004.  The Dukes have earned and been honored with 42 CAA Commissioner’s Academic Awards under Garner’s guidance.

 

Garner's first team at JMU had an exciting 2000 season, ending with sweeps of William & Mary and George Mason to claim the CAA Tournament Championship before the hometown fans in Sinclair Gym of Godwin Hall.  The Dukes advanced for the second time to the NCAA tournament and traveled to face defending national champion Penn State.  With their tremendous performance in State College, the Dukes earned the respect of their foes and many of the PSU faithful.  The Dukes finished their first campaign under Garner with a record of 21-10.  As a result of their great success, many of the Dukes received postseason honors.  Karla Gessler was named first-team All-CAA and All-State, while Larissa Daily earned second-team honors in the conference and the state. 

 

The 2001 season held many plans to repeat as conference champions, but instead, the young Dukes’ squad was faced with some unfortunate circumstances.  The Dukes lost two primary starters due to season-ending injuries, Daily and sophomore setter Lauren Ruzicka.  The loss of these two players limited the Dukes’ lineup options, but strengthened the character of the team.  The 2001 squad took its challenge head on and finished tied for fourth in CAA regular-season play.  Dana Jones, then a sophomore, represented the Dukes as a second-team All-CAA selection.

 

The 2002 campaign saw the Dukes post their second 20-win season and advance for a second time to the title match of the CAA Championship.  The Dukes ripped off 10 straight wins during the heart of the season and won 16 of their final 19 matches overall, including victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the CAA tournament.  The Dukes took George Mason into five games before coming up just shy of the program’s third title in four years.

 

The accolades were many for the 2002 squad, which finished 21-10.  Garner was honored as the Co-Coach of the Year in the CAA.  Jones earned first team All-CAA and All-State honors, while Daily and junior Kate Fuchs made the second team on both squads.  Senior Jessica Evers was named second-team All-CAA, and freshman Krysta Cannon was the CAA Co-Rookie of the Year.

 

In 2003, the Dukes finished 14-13 and placed third in the CAA regular-season standings.  Jones repeated her All-CAA and All-State honors while Cannon gained second-team All-CAA laurels.

 

The Dukes improved to 17-10 and finished 7-7 in the CAA in 2004.  Junior Emilee Hussack was named to the All-CAA and All-State second team. Jena Pierson was named to the CAA All-Rookie squad.

 

In 2005, the Dukes slipped to 14-13, but qualified for the CAA tournament.  Sophomore Allison Halls was named to the All-CAA second team and freshman Kelsey McNamara was honored as an all-rookie selection.

 

A giant leap was made in 2006 as the Dukes emerged again as a contender in CAA volleyball, going 19-9 overall and 13-5 in conference play, tying for second place.  Junior Jena Pierson became the first JMU player to earn CAA Defensive Player of the Year and the first libero in conference history to be named First Team All-CAA.  Junior Allyson Halls joined Pierson on the first team and both were named honorable mention Stellar Spikers, placing them in the top 80 players in the country.  Pierson was also named one of the top five liberos in the nation.  Sophomore setter Lauren Miles was a second team all-conference pick.

 

JMU posted its sixth straight winning season under Garner in 2007 with a 17-13 mark against a competitive schedule and a fifth-place CAA finish at 7-7.  The individual marks and records flowed throughout the season as Garner picked up her 125th victory at JMU, Allyson Halls collected her 1,000th career kill, and Jena Pierson tallied her 2,000th career dig.  Pierson went on to break the JMU and CAA record for career digs and ranked in the top 15 in NCAA history in both total digs and dig average.  She broke her own JMU records for season digs and season dig average and was later honored by College Volleyball Update as a First Team Stellar Spiker, placing her among the top 14 players in the country.  Halls was named First Team All-CAA while finishing third in JMU history in kills, kill average, hitting percentage, block average, and sixth in total blocks.  Lauren Miles broke the single-season assists record and moved into third place in career assists while standing currently as the programs career assist average record holder heading into her senior season.

 

With a young squad in 2008, the Dukes turned in a 13-18 season with a 6-8 mark in the CAA, narrowly missing qualifying for the six-team CAA tournament.  Garner picked up her 200th career coaching victory in the final match of the season at home against UNCW.  Senior setter Lauren Miles was Second Team All-CAA and All-State and became just the second JMU player to surpass 4,000 career assists while also finishing with the JMU career record for assist average.  Sophomore Lindsay Callahan was the top hitter, ranking among the top five in the CAA in both kills and points.  Freshman Kelly Turner was a CAA All-Rookie pick.

 

In 2009, JMU went 11-19 overall with the sixth-youngest roster in all of Division I.  The Dukes went 4-10 in the CAA, winning four of their final seven conference matches.  Freshman outside hitter Danielle Erb was named Third Team All-CAA and an All-Rookie selection after ranking as the only freshman in the top 10 in the league in kills and points.  Junior Lindsay Callahan became just the third player in program history to reach 1,000 kills in her third season.

 

Garner brought outstanding credentials as a player and a coach to the JMU campus.  She was a standout player for the Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois from 1984-87 and was the captain of two teams that won Big Ten Conference championships (1986, 1987).  Illinois' 1987 team reached the semifinals of the NCAA tournament.  The Illini went 124-28 in her four seasons.  Garner was an All-Big Ten selection for the 1985, ‘86 and ‘87 seasons and set Illinois' career assists record with 5,516 in 141 matches.  She was so highly respected as an athlete, that she was named to the Big Ten's all-decade team for the 1980s.  She excelled academically as well, earning CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 1987.

 

Garner, a kinesiology major as an undergraduate, also excelled in the classroom.  She earned All-Big Ten academic team laurels three times and was a GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-American as a senior.  She continued her academic pursuits in graduate school at Illinois, earning a master’s degree in kinesiology and sports administration in 1992.

 

Garner was the head coach at the University of Missouri for the six seasons before moving to the JMU campus.  At Mizzou, she took a downtrodden program out of the cellar of one of the nation's leading conferences and proceeded to lead the Tigers to their first Top 25 national ranking.

 

A native of Western Springs, Ill., Garner served her alma mater as an assistant from 1990-93.  Illinois posted a 90-39 record, finished 17th in the nation in 1990, 1991 and 1993, and was ranked as high as fifth in 1992.  Prior to that, she spent over a year-and-a-half as an assistant coach at the University of Nebraska-Omaha with a team that finished in the Division II Top 10 in 1989.

 

"All of my coaching experiences have been positive in that I have learned and continue to grow as a coach.  My challenges have given me a better insight into how to develop young people and a team in a highly competitive and pressured athletic arena.  I have also experienced the very best in collegiate volleyball, playing and coaching for a team that nearly won a national title.  With my experiences, the resources available, the administrative commitment and support at JMU, I am in the perfect environment to see continued success.  JMU is a beautiful campus and excellent academic institution.  This is a perfect fit for me as a coach."

 

Garner was born in Hinsdale, Illinois.  She and Ron Garner were married in the spring of 2000.  The Garners and their daughters, Kayin and Tori, reside in nearby town of Bridgewater, Va.

 

 

Garner's 10 Seasons at JMU

 

Year

Record

Postseason Finish

2000

21-10

CAA Champ; NCAA First Round

2001

10-14

 

2002

21-10

CAA Runner Up

2003

14-13

CAA Semifinals

2004

17-10

 

2005

14-13

CAA First Round

2006

19-9

CAA Semifinals

2007

17-13

CAA Semifinals

2008 13-18
2009 11-19

Total

157-129

--

 

 

Garner’s Ranking In Illinois Volleyball History (Prior to ‘07 season)

 

Disa Johnson (1984-1987)

Catergory

Rank

Total

Career Assists

Second

5,550

Career Digs

Tenth

959

Career Service Aces

Third

154

Career Blocks

Fifth

489

Career Attack Percentage Tenth .304

Career Matches Played

Fifth

141

Season Assists (1986)

Fourth

1,630

Season Assists (1985)

Sixth

1,599

Season Assists (1987)

Tenth

1,325

Season Blocks (1985) Eighth 154

Assists in a Match (10/22/86)

Second

99

 

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