Herron, seniors pitted against former assistant in St. Louis

Eric Smith

When the schedule-makers were putting together the season for the Washburn Lady Blues volleyball team, they might have realized that the match-up on Sept. 6 was an interesting one between a former assistant coach and his former team.

Because on Saturday, the Lady Blues matched up against their former assistant coach Trent Jones, only this time he was coaching against Washburn as the head coach of the University of Missouri-St. Louis team.

In his first year at USML, Jones is doing quite well for himself leading UMSL to a 6-2 record with their only losses coming to two tough MIAA opponents, No. 2 Washburn and No. 3 Truman State.

Chris Herron, Washburn’s head coach of seven years, talked about Jones’ time at Washburn.

“He’d been my assistant for four years and he was a great coach during that time,” Herron said.

Indeed he was. During that time, Jones helped lead the Lady Blues volleyball team to 129 wins and only 22 losses.

And seeing how UMSL is Jones’ first head coaching job, who better to frame his team after than Herron’s Lady Blues squad.

“[UMSL] mirrors our team. They run the same things we do. They warm up the same way we do. He coaches the same way I do,” Herron said. “It’s pretty weird playing your own self.”

And with a team which is so close to your own, Herron would be alright if he didn’t see Jones again down the court coaching against him.

“I don’t want to play them anymore,” said Herron, who has a career .829 win percentage coaching at Washburn. “I’d rather play somebody I don’t know, than somebody I do like that.”

Sophomore Molly Smith experienced one of year of Jones’ time as assistant coach at Washburn. And that one year made it a little bizarre to play another team that he was the coach of.

“It was definitely weird and different hearing him coach a new team,” she said.

But at the same time, Smith was happy that he’s having early season success.

“It was really fun to see him again. He’s a great guy and he’s done really well with the UMSL program,” Smith said. “We were really excited to see him and play him. We miss him a lot but we love our new assistant coach Dani [Schmidt]. She’s great too.”

Playing a team that is so close to your own like UMSL is so much different than playing other teams. Both teams kind of knew what was coming.

“They ran a lot of the same offense as we did so they definitely knew where we hit and what plays we had,” said Smith, the defensive specialist. “I guess they did have a little bit of an edge up knowing what we played. But we knew coming in that they were going to play the same offense as were too though so I think it was just a tossup and both of us had to play really hard.”

Overall Herron is proud to have a branch of his coaching tree at UMSL and is confident that Jones and his team will have success this year.

“They’re going to win a lot of matches this year,” Herron said. “They’ll win 25 matches this year.”