By Chris Schmidbauer, Sports Information Director
Toledo, OH -- In his 19th season as the head coach of the Owens Volleyball program, head coach Sonny Lewis claimed career win No. 700 in the team's Region XII Semifinal win over Schoolcraft on Saturday afternoon.
Lewis began the season at 665 career wins, and after his team got their 35th win of the season, Lewis was able to claim the career wins milestone in his trademark Hawaiian shirt.
Owens would also give Lewis his 701st win later in the afternoon, after they beat Columbus State 3-1 to win the NJCAA Region XII title.
Lewis was saluted by the fans afterwards, and the athletic department threw a pizza party as a celebration of this terrific career achievement.
About Sonny Lewis
2018 was a dream season for Coach Lewis and the Express. They team lost their first match of the season and then reeled off 18 straight wins to vault them to #2 in the national rankings for Division III, and the team would finish the season as the top ranked team in the country. Owens would have its second straight undefeated conference season, and they would go on to sweep the Regional and District Tournaments, never dropping a set along the way. In national tournament play, Owens would win in straight sets against its first two opponents, before beating Eastfield in five sets to win the program's first national title. Lewis had his first national player of the year when Michaela Eisenhauer was named to that honor for Division III. He also won the Division III NJCAA Coach of the Year as well.
During his tenure, Owens has captured 16 OCCAC championships (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018. 2019) and eight Region XII District E/F titles (2003, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017) and a District I/J title in 2018. At the NJCAA Division II National Tournament, he has finished second (second), third (2016), fourth (2012), fifth (2003) and ninth (2015).
On top of that, Lewis is an nine-time OCCAC coach of the year (2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2017) and a six-time Region XII District E/F coach of the year (2003, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017).
Through the 2018 season, Lewis has also coached 36 student-athletes who have moved on to four-year schools after their time with the Express, including eleven over the past three years alone. Gyori and Reigelsperger signed with NCAA D-I University of Tennessee Martin, Erika Hartings signed with NCAA Division II Francis Marion University, Taylor Purcell and Christine Tylutki signed with NAIA Siena Heights University and Deanna Smith, Annie Lindeman and Tyanna Smith each signed with NAIA Shawnee State University. Prior to that, 2012 graduate Molly Hilfinger moved on to NCAA Division II Ursuline College, where she had 951 assists as a senior in 2014.
Prior to assuming the head coaching duties at Owens, Lewis served as the head volleyball coach at Springfield High School in Holland, Ohio. In 22 seasons, he won 373 matches and seven Northern Lakes League, 15 sectional, six district and two regional championships. Two of his Blue Devil teams played in the state semifinals.
Lewis won numerous coach of the year honors at the high school level, including seven in the NLL and six in District 7. He twice was named Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association Coach of the Year and was tabbed once as Ohio Coach of the Year by the National Federation Interscholastic Coaches Association.
Lewis is a member of the Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame and Springfield Hall of Fame. Residing in Toledo, he earned his bachelor's degree in comprehensive social studies from Defiance College in 1970.