by Malcolm Butler
On Tuesday Paige Phillips was introduced as the new Grambling State head volleyball coach.
With the season starting in less than two weeks, Phillips will be tasked with trying to move the program past the dark cloud that has hovered over it since March when the returning Lady Tigers players were all released from their scholarships by then new head coach Chelsey Lucas.
The events that followed were anything but positive, including Lucas’ ultimate termination on July 6 following an internal investigation by the school.
University Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Trayvean Scott announced the hiring of Phillips Tuesday. Phillips has spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach at North Carolina Central where she helped guide the program in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
Phillips has the opportunity to bring a new start to the program.
“We are very excited to welcome Paige Phillips to Grambling State University and to be our next head volleyball coach,” said Scott, who came under some heat of his own after originally backing up Lucas’ decision before then firing her for the same decision just months later.
“She brings a level of excitement and a wealth of knowledge to our program. She played at an HBCU and coached under one of the best volleyball coaches in Jody Brown at North Carolina Central. I am thrilled to be able to bring in a talented coach as we transition to move forward.”
The current Grambling State website (gsutigers.com) doesn’t have a roster for the 2022 season listed as of Tuesday afternoon. It’s unknown how many of the players from last year who Lucas dismissed will actually be on this year’s roster. In the July 6 release announced the termination of Lucas it stated that all volleyball student-athletes who are on scholarship for 2022-23 would remain on the team for the upcoming year.
However, Phillips said she is eager to get started.
“I am elated for this new opportunity at Grambling State University and look forward to leading the volleyball program to new heights,” Phillips said. “I’d also like to thank President (Rick) Gallot and Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics, Dr. Trayvean Scott for their visionary leadership and commitment to excellence for the volleyball program. I cannot wait to get started.”
In 2021, Phillips assisted in North Carolina Central recording 11 victories and nine wins in conference play, the most in the Division I era for the Eagles. In addition, with her guidance, the program secured its first-ever win in the MEAC Volleyball Championship as the Eagles reached the quarterfinals.
Phillips has served as an assistant coach since the 2018 season before being elevated to associate head coach before departing NCCU.
As a player for the Eagles, Phillips racked up 1,896 career assists, which remains a Division I-era record at NCCU and is fourth all-time in the program. She averaged 5.75 assists per set over four seasons, which also ranks seventh all-time at NCCU.
Phillips graduated from North Carolina Central in 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, with a concentration in pre-med. In addition, she obtained her Master’s degree in Biology and Biomedical Sciences from NCCU in 2020.
Grambling State opens its season Aug. 26 at the Saluki Bash in Carbondale, Illinois.
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