Pettit to be Honored Saturday at Red/White game

University of Nebraska officials announced Thursday that legendary former head volleyball coach Terry Pettit will be honored in a special in-match ceremony Saturday evening.

Pettit, who retired in 1999 after 23 seasons on the sideline, will be recognized during Saturday night's Red/White volleyball scrimmage. Saturday's event also coincides with the reunion of Pettit's 1995 national championship team, the first volleyball national champions in school history.

Tickets are still available for the Red/White Scrimmage with prices at $6 (adults) and $4 (youths and seniors). All tickets are general admission and can be purchased at the NU Ticket Office (800-8-BIGRED) or on-line at Huskers.com.

Pettit has a defining role in the shaping of the Husker volleyball program over the past three decades. In his 23 years at Nebraska, Pettit's teams captured 21 Big Eight/Big 12 Conference titles and played in three national championship matches, claiming their first national title in 1995.

"Our program continues to build above and beyond what most people thought it could be," Head Coach John Cook said. "You have to go back to the tradition of the program and the roots of the program and that all starts with coach Pettit and the players he recruited.

"Coach Pettit is the godfather of Nebraska volleyball," Cook said. "He spent 25 years really building the sport of volleyball in the state. He has always had the insight and wisdom to look ahead and to see what we can do to push the envelope. That is one thing I have taken from Coach Pettit is the ability to see the big picture and look beyond the box, as he calls it. Nebraska volleyball is what it is today because of Terry Pettit."

Pettit posted staggering numbers in guiding the Husker volleyball program. He finished his career with a 743-159-11 record, including a 694-148-11 (.820) mark during his tenure at Nebraska. In his 23 seasons, he guided Nebraska to six national semifinals (1986, 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996 and 1998) including the 1995 national championship and runner-up finishes in 1986 and 1989. Upon his retirement, he ranked fifth nationally by winning percentage and sixth in total wins.

In 2004, he was lauded by USA Volleyball with its All-Time Great Coach Award, recognizing his impact at both the local and national levels. A three-time national coach of the year, he was selected as the Big Eight/Big 12 Coach of the Year nine times, as his teams compiled an amazing 216-12 record, including 12 perfect seasons. In 1996, the U.S. Olympic Committee honored Pettit with its inaugural Elite Coach-of-the-Year award.

Overall, Pettit's teams advanced to 16 NCAA regional semifinals, 12 regional finals, six national semifinals and three national finals. Nebraska played in 18 straight NCAA Tournaments after missing the first event. Through 23 seasons, he averaged 30 wins per season.

Under Pettit, all but one team he coached had a winning percentage of .700 or better. His teams finished the season ranked in the AVCA Top 10 for the last 14 consecutive years and spent an incredible 232 consecutive weeks in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) top 25 rankings, including 206 weeks in the top 10.

He was named the AVCA Coach of the Year in 1986 after leading the Huskers to the national finals, and again in 1994 when NU finished the regular season undefeated. Pettit earned his third national coaching award in 1996.

Under Pettit's tutelage, many of those players went on to enjoy tremendous athletic success. A total of 18 Huskers have earned a total of 34 AVCA All-America certificates, including three each for Janet Kruse (1989-91), Stephanie Thater (1990-92), Allison Weston (1993-95), Lisa Reitsma (1995-97) and Fiona Nepo (1996-98).

In addition, Pettit has produced five U.S. National Team members, including current captain Allison Weston, one Morgan Trophy Award winner, two Honda-Broderick Award winners, two Big Eight Conference Athletes of the Year and 11 Big Eight/Big 12 Volleyball Players of the Year.

Not only did Pettit produce successful athletes on the court, but in the classroom as well. Nebraska volleyball players are proven students. From 1983 to 1999, Nebraska amassed 96 Academic all-conference awards, 19 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, and four CoSIDA Academic All-Americans-of-the-Year. Janet Kruse and Virginia Stahr, each two-time Academic All-American of the Year, won the NCAA Top Six/Eight Award and earned NCAA postgraduate scholarships, while Billie Winsett was named the NCAA Woman of the Year.

A native of Crown Point, Ind., Pettit graduated in 1968 from Manchester (Ind.) College with a bachelor of science degree in English. In addition, he received a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of Arkansas in 1974. He took over the Husker program after a three-year stint at Louisburg Junior College in North Carolina where he coached volleyball and taught English Literature.

In addition to the 1995 squad, Pettit's former players were invited back for this weekend's festivities, giving the current Huskers an opportunity to learn from the players who built the program.

"One of the things we are so excited about the event is that we want our current players to interact with the alumni who will be back," Cook said. "They (the current players) need to realize that this just didn't happen over months. It happened over years of development to have what they have now, and they need always look back to respect and honor the roots and the foundation of the program."


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