Leah Mercer '02 enters her 13th season as the head coach of the USI volleyball program after leading the Screaming Eagles to the NCAA II Tournament in 2010, 2011, and 2013. This fall was an injury stricken year for the Eagles. They plan to get back to the tournament and compete for a regional spot in 2017. In 2015 the Eagles were 21-11 and 10-8 in the GLVC and made the programs 17th straight appearance in the GLVC Tournament.
In 2014 Mercer guided the Eagles to a 19-11 overall record and a 9-9 mark in Great Lakes Valley Conference play despite losing an All-Conference setter and libero from the 2013 campaign. Her squad put together a season-long nine-match winning streak in October that put them in contention heading into the last month of the season for a spot in the NCAA II Midwest Region Tournament.
Mercer was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year after leading her squad to a 24-9 overall record and a 15-3 mark in GLVC play in 2013. Her Eagles flirted with earning the No. 1 overall seed in the GLVC Tournament before finishing in a tie for second in the GLVC East Division, just a game back of first place. The Eagles made their third trip to the NCAA II Tournament under Mercer that year.
In 2012, Mercer directed the Eagles to a 16-16 overall record and a 12-6 mark in GLVC play despite her squad suffering numerous injuries at key positions throughout the season. Her squad finished fourth in the GLVC East Division and advanced to the GLVC Tournament for the 14th consecutive season.
Mercer became the all-time winningest coach in the program's history in 2011 as she guided the Eagles to a 20-11 overall mark and a 14-4 record in GLVC play. Her Eagles finished in a tie for third in the powerful GLVC East Division before advancing to the NCAA II Tournament for the second consecutive year and the fourth time in the program's history.
In 2010, Mercer became second coach in the program's history to reach the 100-win plateau as she led her squad to an 18-12 overall record and a 10-4 mark in GLVC play, good enough for third in the conference's regular-season standings. In addition, Mercer's Eagles advanced to the GLVC Tournament semifinals for the third straight season and the eighth time in 11 years and to the NCAA II Tournament for the first time since 2004.
Mercer, who has 184 career victories at the helm of the USI volleyball program, led her squad to an 18-14 overall mark, 9-5 in the GLVC, in 2009.
Five years ago, Mercer brought the Eagles back to the GLVC Championship match for the first time since 2004 and the sixth time since 2000. Her squad was 18-15 overall, 9-8 in the GLVC, and finished third in the GLVC West Division. The Eagles won six of their final eight matches, including upset wins over nationally-ranked Northern Kentucky University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Throughout Mercer's career with the Eagles, USI has been among the GLVC's best teams at the net. Her squad led the GLVC and was eighth in the nation with 2.43 blocks per set in 2008. In 2013, the Eagles were second in the league and 13th in the country with 2.46 blocks per set.
The Eagles' 505 block assists in 2013 safely eclipsed the previous school record of 454, set in 2008, and was 55 more than USI's total in 2007, which once stood as the single-season school record.
In 2007, Mercer's squad finished 15-14 overall and was fourth in the GLVC West Division with a 9-10 conference mark. The 2007 Eagles set season records for digs (2,147) and block assists.
Mercer led the Eagles to a sixth-place finish in the GLVC regular-season standings with a 17-11 overall mark, 9-7 GLVC, in 2006. In the Great Lakes Region, the Eagles knocked off eventual region champion Ashland early in the season.
In 2005, Mercer led her squad to a 19-13 overall record and an 11-5 mark in the GLVC. Her squad also posted wins over fifth-ranked North Alabama and 11th-ranked Northern Michigan.
Under Mercer's tutelage, the Eagles have had two AVCA National Players of the Week (Laura Ellerbusch in 2005 and Danielle LaGrange in 2011) and one All-American (Danielle LaGrange).
A native of Evansville and a 2002 graduate of USI, Mercer served Loyola University (Chicago) as the top assistant coach in 2004. She helped guide the Ramblers to a 22-9 overall record and a 10-4 mark in the Horizon League. Loyola won the Horizon League Tournament championship and qualified for the NCAA Division I Tournament before falling to the University of Wisconsin in the first round.
Prior to her one-year stint at Loyola, Mercer spent a year as a graduate assistant coach at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. She helped lead the Bobcats to a 28-5 overall record, the Mid-American Conference regular-season and tournament titles, and the program’s first-ever berth in the NCAA I Tournament.
Mercer, who started her coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Purdue University in 2002, was a two-time All-GLVC performer and helped lead the Eagles to a three-year record of 61-27, including a 49-14 mark as a junior and senior. She averaged 3.1 kills per game during her three seasons of collegiate volleyball. Mercer also averaged 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in two seasons with USI’s women’s basketball program.
Mercer, who has a bachelor’s degree in physical education (teaching K-12) and a master’s degree in recreation and sports science (coaching education), is the Screaming Eagles’ 11th head coach in the history of the program.
Elisa Joris begins her third season as an assistant coach for the University of Southern Indiana volleyball program. Joris assists Head Coach Leah Mercer in all aspects of the USI volleyball program.
Before USI, Joris spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at Midwest Region foe Ohio Dominican University. She helped lead the Panthers to a 26-32 overall record and an 18-18 mark in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.
Prior to Ohio Dominican, Joris spent a year as an assistant coach with Lake Superior State University after spending three seasons as the head coach and one as an assistant coach at Adrian College (Michigan).
A graduate of Wayne State University, Joris also has experience coaching at the club level, where she has worked with the Columbus Volleyball Academy, the Huron Valley Volleyball Club, Legacy 18 Nationals, Walled Lake Northern, Club Unified 17 and WOW 16 Nationals.
Joris, who was inducted into the WSU Warriors’ Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012, earned All-America honors as a senior in 2005 after averaging 4.18 kills and 1.79 blocks per set. She averaged 3.66 kills and 1.73 blocks per set as a junior in 2004.
Prior to Wayne State, Joris began her collegiate career with Grand Valley State University, where she was a member of two NCAA II Elite Eight squads.
A native of Walled Lake, Michigan, Joris earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Wayne State in 2008 as well as a master’s degree in sports management from Ohio Dominican in 2015.