Sarah Chlebana, who starred for the Sacramento State volleyball
team from 1997-00, will enter her seventh season as an assistant
coach in 2014. She serves as the team’s recruiting
coordinator and assists in all areas of on-floor coaching, scouting
and team training. In addition, Chlebana has been the primary
contact for Hornet youth camps seven straight years. She also
serves as the director of operations for the program’s sand
Every season of Chlebana’s tenure, the Hornets have had at least three Big Sky all-academic selections, including a program-best eight in 2008. Of the squad’s six returners for the 2014 season, five have overall grade point averages of at least 3.175.
Impressively, of the 21 student-athletes that have expired their eligibility during Chlebana’s tenure as assistant coach, 17 have graduated and three more are on pace to graduate during the 2014-15 academic year.
Over the last few years, Chlebana has been part of a coaching staff that has seen the Hornets play well both offensively and defensively. For instance, last season, Sacramento State’s hitting percentage tied for the program’s second best mark in 17 years and all six starters hit better than .210. Prior to that, the 2011 and 2012 squads both finished 13th in the nation in blocks while the 2011 team was the only program in the country to rank among the nation’s top 35 squads in both digs per set (9th) and blocks per set (13th).
Also during that 2011 season, Sacramento State went 17-15 overall, including a 10-6 record and third place finish in the conference. The Hornets ranked among the top half of all Div. I teams in the final RPI report, and three Hornets received all-conference accolades. The team concluded the year by winning 12 of its final 18 matches, including a six-match winning streak from Sept. 24-Oct. 8, the longest since the 2007 season.
In 2010, the Hornets played without projected starters at setter and middle hitter all season. In addition, the roster averaged just 19 years of age and the team started four underclassmen in nearly every match. Despite the injuries, youth and relative inexperience, Sacramento State placed three players on the all-conference team, won 15 matches, and completed the season with a 10-3 record at home.
In 2009, the Hornets improved upon their overall win total by six, finishing with a 16-16 record. This came despite the team playing with a roster of 10 underclassmen, including four freshmen and six sophomores. Sacramento State beat local rivals Pacific, UC Davis and San Jose State, and had two players selected to the all-conference team.
In Chlebana’s first year with the Hornets in 2008, the team posted its 33rd consecutive season with double figures in wins and an 8-8 mark in conference despite losing both starting outside hitters, both starting middle hitters and the starting libero from the previous year. The 2008 squad featured two all-conference performers, and set the program record for most Big Sky all-academic selections in a season with eight.
Chlebana, who is one of 11 players in Sacramento State history to accumulate 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs, has a total of 21 years of coaching experience. That includes the 2007 season as an assistant at Div. I Long Island University, where she helped coach the team to the Northeast Conference regular season and tournament championships, and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to coaching at Long Island, Chlebana spent the 2006-07 season as an assistant coach for the Belgian semi-professional team Volleybalclub Oudegem. In two years as an assistant at Syracuse (2004, 2005), she helped lead the Orange to back-to-back Big East Conference Tournament appearances for the first time since 1999. In addition, Syracuse combined to post a 50-17 overall record during her tenure with the team. She also spent one season (2003) as an assistant at Div. I Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
Chlebana was a four-year starter for the Hornets, and helped lead the team to four consecutive Big Sky Conference championships and four NCAA Tournament appearances. A two-time second team all-Big Sky selection (1999-00) and 1998 Big Sky all-tournament choice, the Calgary, Alberta, native never missed a match during her career, and finished with 1,116 kills, 1,348 digs, 271 blocks and 85 aces.
Chlebana served as the team captain her senior year, and the Hornets combined to post a 92-40 overall record during her four seasons. She graduated from Sacramento State in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, and a minor in mathematics.