Originally Published: November 16, 2012 9:57 p.m.
PRESCOTT - In her first season as Prescott High's varsity volleyball head coach, Shellie Bowman was determined to carry on the tradition of a proud program.
From 2009-11, the Badgers advanced deep into the state playoffs with highly experienced and talented teams, but it was difficult to tell what might happen in 2012 with a 12-player team that had just three seniors on its roster.
Although PHS didn't qualify for the Division II tournament this fall, the squad fared well as one of the finest teams in the state not to make the postseason.
In part for keeping Prescott competitive through a tough transition, Bowman has been named the 2012 All-Courier high school volleyball Coach of the Year.
All season, the Badgers were ranked anywhere from eighth to 12th in the D-II state seedings and believed they would qualify for the 16-team field. However, a late-season setback to Anthem Boulder Creek, coupled with the AIA's recalculation of the power points standings, eliminated No. 17 Prescott (17-11 record) from contention by a fraction of a power point.
"We were really shocked, and it was pretty disappointing," Bowman said. "Our last five matches were all (against larger-enrollment) Division I (teams), and we won three of them."
Under former PHS coach Christa Stehower, Bowman was the lead assistant in 2010 when the Badgers finished as the Class 4A, Division I state runner-up and in 2011 when they reached the Division II state semifinals.
Before joining Prescott's varsity staff, Bowman helped coach the Yavapai Juniors Club team in town.
Several years prior to becoming a coach, Bowman was a standout setter at Scottsdale Community College. The Artichokes won back-to-back national championships in the 1981 and 1982 seasons while she was there.
Bowman subsequently played two seasons at NCAA Division I University of South Carolina.
Prescott senior outside hitter Nicky Lyon, the Courier's prep volleyball Player of the Year for 2012, praised Bowman for her leadership after the departure of the revered Stehower.
Stehower coached Lyon in her first three seasons at PHS before giving way to Bowman.
"Christa was amazing, and she helped me grow not only as a player but as a person," Lyon said. "And then Shellie taking over this year, she just stepped in and did the same."