Spenner steps down as Washington's volleyball coach
TIFFIN — When the gym at Clear Creek-Amana High School had emptied after Monday’s Class 4A regional quarterfinal, Washington head volleyball coach Jeff Spenner began to get a bit emotional. Spenner, who recently resigned after six years as the head coach of the Demons, had just coached in his final match.
“It hadn’t hit me until right now that it was my last game,” he said. “You’ve got me all teared up. I’ve been trying not to think about it all night. It’s going to be different. I’m going to miss the program and the girls.”
Spenner resigned in order to spend more time at his job as an insurance agent. But he doesn’t plan to get too far away from the sport of volleyball, as he plays on a competitive men’s team and hopes to still coach a club team or volunteer at a local high school.
“I don’t want to totally get out of it, but I need to gear it back a little bit,” he said.
The Demons had a record of 56-107 under Spenner. And although he never led them to a winning season — Washington hasn’t had one since 1993 — there were some highlights. The Demons defeated Fort Madison in the regional quarterfinals last year for the program’s first postseason victory since 2000. And Washington’s 13 wins last season and this season were the most since 2003.
“I feel like we’ve gotten the program better,” Spenner said. “In fact, just talking to the [Clear Creek-Amana] coaches here tonight, they feel that we’re better than we have been in the past. But it just needs that next step.”
That’s what Spenner hopes his successor can accomplish. He hopes whoever replaces him can build a culture of success in the Washington volleyball program.
“I just think they need a change in direction,” Spenner said. “I just really think they need a change to step to the next level. I think we’ve got to get a coach in here who has a little better background with some experience playing to do that.”
Whoever is hired to replace Spenner will likely find that the cupboard isn’t bare. Junior Stephanie Fishback led the Demons with 196 kills this season and will likely earn some all-conference honors. Junior libero Maddie Collins, who made 223 digs this season, will also be back. Sophomores Anna Wheeler and Lauren Swan were also starters this season and showed a lot of improvement throughout the year.
“There are a lot of girls coming back,” Spenner said. “If you look at our starters — Stephanie, Maddie, Anna and Lauren — all of them have a lot of potential. They just have to get to the next level with it.”