Penny Lucas-White, a former United States of America national player, just finished her eighth season as the head volleyball coach at Alabama State University in 2018, culminating with a SWAC championship for the third time in a row and a trip to the NCAA tournament. Lucas-White holds a career coaching record at Alabama State of 165-137 in eight seasons (2011-present) and 409-542 overall as a college coach (27 seasons).
During her tenure, the Lady Hornets have won five Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships, including 2017, when the team finished off a perfect 18-0 run through the conference and a trip to the NCAA Regionals.
Lucas-White and the Lady Hornets placed six players on the All-SWAC teams in 2016, while finishing undefeated for the first time in conference play under Lucas-White. Not only did the Lady Hornets place six players on the all-conference team, they also won four of the major conference awards. Jamie Coleman was named the Libero of the Year (First Team All-SWAC), Justus Tuiolosega was named Setter of the Year (First Team All-SWAC), Ni’yesha Brown the Newcomer of the Year (First Team All-SWAC) and Bayle Bennett the Freshman of the Year (Second Team). Briana Dorsey and Krysta Medearis were named to the all-conference teams for the Lady Hornets to round out the selections.
In 2015, Alabama State finished 24-9 overall, the second-most wins under their current head coach for the Lady Hornets and recorded the most conference wins under Lucas-White. The conference title was the third under Lucas-White for the Lady Hornets, as Alabama State claimed conference crowns in 2013 and 2014 and has made the last five conference championship matches. The Lady Hornets have won 20-plus matches in each of the past five seasons, including a high of 28 en route to the conference championship in 2017.
Lucas-White took over an Alabama State volleyball program that was struggling at the time. She came into the program and immediately made improvements, combining to win 24 games her first two seasons - which included 15 wins in her first. Although the team struggled in 2012, the Lady Hornets made a 16-match improvement to finish 25-16 in 2013 and capture the first of the conference championships under Lucas-White.
Prior to winning the conference title in 2013, Lucas-White led the Lady Hornets to consecutive third-place finishes in the always-tough SWAC Eastern Division. In 2012, the Lady Hornets finished third at the SWAC Tournament.
The Lady Hornets’ mentor draws her coaching expertise from an impressive playing career at the collegiate, national, and international levels, as well as coaching some of the top scholar-athletes in the nation.
During her tenure at the helm of the Lady Hornets, Lucas-White has upgraded the non-conference schedule to include trips against some of the top teams in the country. Last season, Alabama State traveled out west to take on Arizona, Pepperdine and SMU. In 2015, the team played a pair of highly ranked regional opponents (Texas A&M Corpus Christi in the University of Central Arkansas Tournament on Sept. 18 and at Alabama on Sept. 29). The Lady Hornets opened in Kennesaw (Ga). for the Kennesaw State Invitational to play against host Kennesaw State, Jacksonville State and Savannah State.
Non-conference opponents also included match-ups against East Tennessee State, Troy and Cal-State Bakersfield in the Troy Invitational and road trips to North Carolina Central, North Carolina A&T, Norfolk State and UNC-Greensboro. The UCA Tournament also saw ASU take on Louisiana Tech and host Central Arkansas. Two additional stops included visits to South Alabama, South Carolina State, Savannah State and UAB.
In 2014, the team again traveled out west to the University of Arizona to play Arizona, Cal-State Northridge and Loyola-Chicago as well as to Fort Myers (Fla.), to compete in the Florida Gulf Coast Tournament against host Florida Gulf Coast, Florida Atlantic University and Missouri-Kansas City. The team also hosted two ISTAP Collegiate Cups at Lockhart Gymnasium and the Dunn-Oliver Acadome against top competition such as Tennessee Martin, Murray State, The Citadel, Southeast Missouri State, Southern Mississippi, and the University of Alabama.
The Lady Hornets won back-to- back SWAC Championships with two victories at Southern on Nov. 23, 2014. The team also completed another 8-0 mark in conference play.
Lucas-White has always emphasized work in the classroom and that has not changed since she arrived on the ASU campus. Following the 2012-13 season, the volleyball team received the Large Team Academic Award at the ASU Athletic Banquet based on the overall team grade point average.
One of her crowning achievements happened two summers ago when she and her assistants were chosen by the State Department to be special envoys to China’s Sichuan Province. It was an area that had been devastated by an earthquake. The coaching staff was part of a sports delegation that went into Chengdu, China to hold volleyball clinics for the children from the devastated area.
Prior to Alabama State, Lucas-White has left her mark on several other programs. As head coach at Memphis, Lucas-White led the program to back-to-back Great Midwest Conference titles in 1993 and 1994, earning Coach of the Year honors both seasons. Her Lady Tiger squads maintained a 3.0 team GPA during her tenure at Memphis.
Lucas-White took the reins at Air Force Academy in 1996, the school’s first season competing in Division I in the highly competitive Western Athletic Conference (now known as the Mountain West Conference). A total of 18 cadet-athletes earned academic All-Mountain West Conference honors, including one Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Among her community involvement, Lucas-White has been an active member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. In 2003, she helped the AVCA receive an NCAA minority coaches grant for a program entitled “Volleyball: Live it! Love it! Coach It!”
She earned first-team All-SEC honors, as well as the MVP award, in her first season playing at LSU. After a three-year career, she left college to begin her professional playing career domestically in the United States Volleyball League and internationally in Italy and Germany.
Lucas-White earned the honor of playing on the United States National Volleyball Team in the 1985 NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean) Games, competing against the best players in the world. While competing professionally in the United States and Europe, Lucas-White began her coaching career as an assistant coach at Auburn from 1987-89.