Under 15th-year coach Thanh Pham (pronounced TANG FAMM), St. Thomas continues to add to its rich volleyball tradition.
The program’s highlight came in 2012 when Pham guided St. Thomas to its first national championship. A 3-2, comeback victory over Calvin (Mich.) let the Tommies became the first MIAC institution to capture the national volleyball crown. Adding to the task, a record 3,517 fans in Holland, Mich., were almost all supporting local favorite Calvin. St. Thomas became just the fifth NCAA team at any level to rally from a 2-0 games deficit to claim the championship in the final match.
St. Thomas squads were ranked in the AVCA Top-25 for 120 of the 121 consecutive polls from 2005 to 2015. In the last 15 seasons alone, St. Thomas teams have compiled a 433-131 record. That includes Pham's 373-99 record since 2003.
The Tommies won 13 of a possible 16 MIAC championships from 2007 to 2014 – all eight regular season and five MIAC playoff titles. In all their 16 conference titles are twice as many won by the next program.
UST has had 17 All-Americas in the last 14 years and the National Freshman of the year in 2011. Three of Pham's former players are now head coaches in the conference – All-Americans Jane Becker (neé Gibbs) at Augsburg, Rachelle Sherden (neé Dosch) at Gustavus and Emily Foster at St. Olaf.
Early in the program’s history under Coach Dave Orren, St. Thomas advanced to the NCAA tournament six straight years (1987-92).
Under Pham, UST was back in the NCAA postseason each season from 2007 to 2014 and 2016. The Tommies reached the regional finals in 1990, 1991 and 1992, and then again in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. The 2010-2012 squads won their region title matches to qualify for the eight-team nationals.
The 2010 team advanced to the national finals for first time in school history, finished with 31-7 record, and was ranked seventh in the final Division III rankings. St. Thomas returned to nationals in 2011 before bowing out in the national quarterfinals and finished 32-5 on the season.
The Tommies have received AVCA All-America honors 17 times in the last 14 seasons, and have had several Division III National Players of the Week.
Seven times in the last decade, UST has received a team academic award from the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) for having a team grade-point average above 3.30 for a school year. Kelly Foley was voted a CoSIDA Academic All-America in 2013 and 2014, and Jill Greenfield was also voted a CoSIDA Academic All-America in 2014. Kia Johnson, a 2014 graduate, won a prestigious Fulbright scholarship.
The Tommies practice and play home matches in the 2,000-seat Schoenecker Arena in the state-of-the-art Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex on campus. The Toms travel to three tournaments a year, with recent trips to San Antonio, Seattle, Atlanta, Boston and Wisconsin. They have 15 varsity players, an another 12-15 players that compete at the junior-varsity level.