Jill Williams spent eight years as an assistant coach at the collegiate level before coming to Kirkwood as the women’s volleyball coach in 2005.
That was 17 years and 501 victories ago.
Williams claimed her 500th victory with a 3-0 victory over Highland Community College on Friday at the Southeastern tournament in West Burlington, then made it 501 with another 3-0 conquest of John Wood a few hours later.
“I think it’s kind of cool,” she said about the milestone. “It’s not something you really think about when you get started.”
Williams is also the sports information director at Kirkwood and keeps track of milestones for the athletic department, so she knew she stood at 490 when the season began in August. Then she put the number aside to focus on the task at hand.
Williams celebrated the 500th victory with her team at the gym in West Burlington, with flowers and cookies. “The girls, some parents, and grandparents that were there helped me celebrate,” she said.
Williams saluted all the assistant coaches and all the players she’s had the pleasure of working with at Kirkwood over the years. She also mentioned all the coaches that she learned from growing up, being a coaches kid she was exposed to some of the best coaches. She’s a little humbled by the victory total by Kim Muhl, the Kirkwood women’s basketball coach who has 978 victories and eight national titles.
“I look at Coach Muhl and think, ‘Holy Cow, I’ll never get that many “W’s”.
Williams has led Kirkwood to the national tournament eight times, topped by a fourth-place finish in 2018. The Eagles have reached the national tournament the last four years in a row.
Kirkwood swept Highland, 25-9, 25-15, 25-19, for the historic 500th win. Ava Morris led a balanced attack with seven kills. Lexi Hearn and Alyssa Tegeler had six apiece. Gracie Ehret finished with 13 assists. Sierra Marshall made 13 digs. Bri Justsen added seven blocks.
The Eagles beat John Wood, 25-9, 30-28, 25-20, for victory number 501. Hearn and Tegeler had 11 kills, while Morris and Allison Bonnette had 10 apiece. Ehret dished out 30 assists. Bonnette had seven aces. Marshall made 12 kills and Ehret had 11. Justsen five blocks.
Kirkwood has tough matches on the horizon, including a test with top-ranked Johnson County at the Kirkwood tournament this Saturday. The fifth-ranked Eagles will compete in the Parkland Tournament Sept. 16-17.
Kirkwood has begun the season with an 11-1 record.
“It’s a great start for a very inexperienced bunch of players,” said Williams, who has a heavy dose of newcomers on her club. “We’ll find out a lot more the next few weeks and hopefully we’re up to it.”
For the latest on the Kirkwood volleyball team, as well as up-to-date Athletics department news, go to www.kirkwoodeagles.com.