VOLLEYBALL: Noe moves to sideline

Amber North

Last season was a storied season for the volleyball team. Coach Travis Hudson had his winningest season ever and the team took its first Sun Belt Conference title, topped off with a trip to Hawaii to play in its first ever NCAA tournament.

And they had Sara Noe.

Instead of calling the shots from the center of the court, Noe now does so from the sidelines.

While working on her degree in finance, the fifth-year senior decided to help out with the team she helped build.

“It’s a totally different perspective being on the bench,” Noe said. “You get to see things and give people advice on what they can do.”

After coaching the quiet leader for four years, Hudson could not pass up the opportunity of having Noe on his staff this season.

“We feel very fortunate to have her back in the mix as a student assistant because she’s been very valuable in that regard,” Hudson said.

Noe spent her first season as a backup setter to Jenni Miller, who was then the school’s career assists record-holder (4,521).

But after Miller graduated, Noe took charge in the middle to become Western’s most productive setter, surpassing her predecessor with 5,172 career assists.

In her final year, Noe was the ring leader of the unforgettable 33-win season.

“What I miss most about Sara is her ability,” Hudson said. “She’s a terrific player and we certainly miss her experience, her ability and her confidence.”

It’s hard not to miss her with the stacked statistics Noe collected during her four-year stay at Western.

In addition to leading in total assists, Noe also leads Western in career assists per game with 12.89. She was named all-SBC in the 2001 and 2002 seasons.

Last season she was chosen Sun Belt Player of the Year and on the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-South Region team. She also helped lead Western to an 82-19 record (.812 winning percentage) during her era.

Although Noe has plenty to brag about, she keeps it humble.

“It meant a lot and I’m happy to have accomplished those things,” Noe said. “But it’s in the past so I don’t think about it.”

Newcomers sophomore Caron Blotch and freshmen Ashley Deignan and Megan Frericks are the only team members who have not experienced playing alongside Noe.

The team has appreciated Noe’s work ethic.

“One of the things about Sara is that you knew she would come ready to play everyday,” senior Cynda Derbort said. “You always knew that as long as passers pass the ball up, she will always set something hittable, which is always a huge benefit for a setter.”

Noe also plays a key role in helping Blotch develop as a setter.

“Sara knows our hitters and our players well,” Hudson said. “She knows what she had to do to make them better players and, obviously, that’s what Caron wants to do as well.”

Noe admits sometimes having to fight the desire to play when watching her former teammates battle with opponents.

“I expected (it) to be bad, but it really hasn’t been that bad,” Noe said. “The only time I’ve ever really wanted to go out there to play is when they’ve been playing poorly or making stupid mistakes.”

Despite her strong love for volleyball, Noe plans to pursue a different field. The Louisville native hopes to leave Bowling Green and get a job in the financial management area after she graduates in May.

But for now, Noe will try to be a part of another successful season – this time watching from the sidelines.

“I don’t think she understands how much I’m enjoying watching her in the coaching role,” Hudson said. “Watching her be a more mature person and be able to help other people get better is fun for me to watch.”

Reach Amber North at [email protected]