Longtime Wash. U. volleyball coach not returning

Special to the News-DemocratOctober 31, 2013 

Washington University in St. Louis director of athletics John Schael has announced that Rich Luenemann, the school's head women's volleyball coach since 1999 and an Edwardsville resident, will not be returning following a leave of absence.

Fomer Lindenwood University coach Luke Young has been serving as interim head coach since August. One of the Bears' assistant coaches is former Belleville West Hall of Fame Charlie Rodman.

Luenemann compiled a 480-62 (.886) overall record in 14 seasons and won three NCAA Division III national championships (2003, 2007 and 2009).

He also guided Washington U. to nine University Athletic Association (UAA) championships and 14 postseason appearances, including six trips to the NCAA title match.

Luenemann is the fifth coach in NCAA history to eclipse 1,000 career victories, compiling a 1,070-324 (.768) record in 32 seasons.

"Having the opportunity to coach at Washington University has proven to be one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life," Luenemann said. "Washington University affords student-athletes the chance to enjoy the happiest of marriages between academics and athletics in offering outstanding opportunities both in the classroom and on the court. It's been a privilege working at such a wonderful institution."

Luenemann coached 47 NCAA Division III All-Americans at Washington University and three of his players earned College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America honors. He was tabbed as the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III National Coach of the Year on three occasions (2003, 2007 and 2009), and also earned UAA Coaching Staff of the Year honors five times.

"An outstanding strategist and enthusiastic teacher, Coach Luenemann contributed greatly to the time-honored traditions tied to Bears volleyball. We will miss his presence at court side," said Schael.

Luenemann came to Washington from the University of St. Francis in Joliet, where he compiled an 18-year record of 590-262 (.692) and coached the Fighting Saints to the NAIA Tournament seven times. He coached 15 NAIA All-Americans at St. Francis and eight of his players were named NAIA Scholar-Athletes.

Luenemann's wife, Joan, suffered a brain hemorrhage in October, 2011 and was in a coma for five months.

"My departure from coaching will create a huge void in my life, but it's time for my wife, Joan, to become the rudder of our ship," Luenemann added. "Joan's fragile medical condition requires my full attention as her primary caregiver, and we'll work hand-in-hand to maximize the quality of her improvement."

Graf is interim AD at Webster

Millstadt resident and longtime Webster University women's volleyball coach and assistant athletic director Merry Graf is serving as Webster's interim athletic director.

Graf replaced former AD Tom Hart, who took a job at Division III Berry College in Georgia.

Graf is in her 13th season as Webster's volleyball coach and was the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2012.

Her 2013 squad is 21-8 overall and 13-2 in conference play. Local players include Melanie Rhine (Nashville), Lauren McCulley (O'Fallon) and Shelby Culli (Mascoutah).

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