Mills River – Tiffany Lowrance won her 300th volleyball match last week and kept going, as she and her record-setting mother, Jan Stanley, have more than 1,000 wins in their 48 consecutive seasons leading West Henderson.
West (15-2) won all three of its matches last week. Lowrance’s 300th win was 3-0 over Stanley’s alma mater, Hendersonville, on Sept. 12, for Lowrance’s 300th win. West won 3-1 at Franklin (10-2; 4-2 M7) the next day to stay atop the Mountain Seven Conference, then swept Tuscola 3-0 Thursday for a perfect 7-0 M7 mark so far.
On Sept. 21, a huge rivalry game was held against a veteran North Henderson squad. Sue Moon is the Knights’ legendary coach and reigning state 3A coach of the year. At home on Aug. 25, West beat NHHS (11-3-1, 5-1) by 3-1. The Knights and FHS (10-3; 4-2) are West’s chief M7 competitors. West’s regular season home finale is against Franklin on Oct. 6 at 6 p.m.
West welcomes winless East Henderson on Thursday, Sept. 22. The Lady Falcons have a major non-conference test at reigning Mountain Athletic Conference champ T.C. Roberson (11-3; 4-0 MAC) on Monday, Sept. 26 at 5:30 p.m. West won a MAC volleyball title in each of its four seasons in that league.
Payton Brown’s well-placed tap was the main shot in the final point in West’s homecourt win over HHS. The scores were 25-10, 25-19, and 25-16.
A ceremony ensued. Coach Lowrance said that was a surprise to her, and she did not realize a win would be her 300th until some players mentioned it ahead of the match. She was presented with a huge plaque and a bouquet of flowers by the administrators. Senior Jen McNamara handed her a gift basket from the players. Principal Luke Manuel and Athletic Director Justin Heatherly organized and hosted the brief ceremony.
Emma Bryson, a sophomore 6-foot-2 superstar hitter, credits Coach Lowrance’s motivation to genuine maternal “love” and “enthusiasm. She pushes us to reach our very best potential. ” Bryson’s mother, April Sorrells Bryson, was a member of West’s state-champion volleyball and basketball teams in 1991.
April is among the former West players at the ceremony. “It’s good to share that with them,” Coach Lowrance said. “They were a big part of our getting 300 wins here.” She liked how her current players “fought for this 300th win.”
West Henderson’s program entails the usual sports components of teamwork, camaraderie, preparation, and resilience. Coach Lowrance often wears a T-shirt with this inspirational slogan on it: “Trade sweat for strength; trade doubt for belief; trade fear for courage; trade volleyball for nothing.” She urges players to “start strong. Stay strong. Finish strong “in matches.
“She keeps the love for the game in the players,” said assistant coach Brooke Stanley, her sister.
This is Lowrance’s 13th season as head coach. The 1996 West grad started as a Lady Falcon assistant coach in 2002. In the fall of 2010, she took over from the retiring coach, who at the time won more volleyball matches than anyone in WNC. That is her mother, Jan Stanley.
Jan (699 wins) and Tiffany (302) had a total of 1,001 career victories entering this week. Jan Stanley won five state volleyball titles for West, including with Brooke Stanley (Class of ‘07) as the main setter and Tiffany as an assistant coach. The current Lady Falcons said they want to get one for “Coach Tiffany.” Jan won 30 league titles. She won a state basketball title in ‘91 and was 281–161 in that sport.
Jan was 699-115 in 35 volleyball seasons (1975-2010), averaging 20 wins. Tiffany does it even better. She averages 24 victories over 12 and a half seasons.
“Tiffany is a better coach than I was,” Jan told the Tribune. How so? “She rotates players in” earlier and more often in matches, to get more girls to play.
Tiffany said her mother was “more patient” with players, though she could “get hard on them.” Tiffany is more intense during matches. She moves around to get different angles to watch each shot, gauge team execution, and assist with coaching adjustments.
Brooke said her sister “adapted to what players needed” over the last decade. An example is adjusting to the rise of cell phones and social media and allowing brief phone use during practice breaks.
Setting a Successful Path
Brooke has a tactical explanation for Tiff’s success. “She was a setter at App State,” and setters are playmakers, seeing teammates all around them. Brooke starred for the University of Albany. She coached Hendersonville in 2012 and then went to Albany as an assistant coach. Now she is a West assistant, resuming a tradition of two in the family on the coaching sidelines.
Tiffany’s husband, Robbie Lowrance, was Tiffany’s assistant for years. He said his coaching strategy mostly “stays in the gym,” with a break from it at home. Robbie was a wide receiver and a track sprinter for HHS. “We beat him in football in his senior year,” Tiffany said with a grin. Their children are Cooper, a seventh-grader, and daughter Rylee, who is in third grade.
Hendersonville is also Jan Stanley’s alma mater. Jan’s late husband, Paul Stanley, and their son, Jason Stanley, were both HHS football assistants. Jason helps coach at T.C. Roberson, where his 6-3 son Zach is a receiver. The family coaching tree is extensive.
The Lowrances periodically host volleyball players for meals. That is an example of the program’s longtime family atmosphere. Tiffany said, “Our tradition is all about loving each other.”
Role modeling is important — as examples for classmates, when instructing younger players or if younger fans see the team’s behavior on and off court. “Little Eyes are Upon You”—taken from a poem—is the longtime team motto Jan started. Tiffany carries it on, along with the variation of “Little Eyes, Big Shoulders.”