Western volleyball’s Rogers steps aside

Western Albemarle volleyball coach Lance Rogers’ mark against Jefferson District opponents isn’t perfect. But at 131-1 all-time it’s as close to perfect as it can possibly be without being flawless.

It’ll also, for now at least, end at exactly that.

Rogers has decided to step away from the Western volleyball program and informed his players Friday of the decision, which just felt right for the longtime coach. He’s not leaving for any other volleyball job, but just making a personal decision.

“My reasons for bowing out now are both work-related and personal,” Rogers said in his letter of resignation to Western athletic director Steve Heon. “I have a full-time job and a family; both will benefit significantly if volleyball doesn’t consume all my time.”

Rogers is a lawyer who is no longer practicing, in fact, he once argued a murder case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He now spends some of his time writing a newsletter for other lawyers.

Rogers told his players at a dinner at his house and the announcement certainly came out of left field for the Western players.

“You could’ve heard a pin drop, they were surprised, which I find pleasing that I didn’t give any indication that I was burned out or dissatisfied,” Rogers said. “Because I wasn’t.”

Rogers is most well-known locally for his time at Western as a head coach over the last nine years, but he’s been involved in high level volleyball coaching for 23 years, previously with a club program in Washington, D.C. and as an assistant under Mark Ragland at Albemarle. That extensive work certainly seemed to take its toll on Rogers.

But he’s leaving an extremely healthy program to whoever emerges as his successor. Despite losing two of the Jefferson District’s top players in Sarah Harper and Chastity Lacy and a solid group of other seniors, Western managed to go unbeaten in the Jefferson again this year. The Warriors produced the district’s player of the year in their lone senior Ana Asher and Rogers snagged coach of the year honors. Western’s season ended in the Region II quarterfinals against Freedom Tuesday night with the Warriors falling 3-2 in a hotly-contested match.

“It’s never a great time to leave but I take a lot of pride in the fact that I’m leaving this house in pretty good shape,” Rogers said. “I’m really proud of it.”

He should be. The Warriors have won their last 80 games against JD opponents and Rogers’ career record as a head coach is 185-35 over the past seasons. Western has only been beaten five times at home in the past nine seasons. They went to the state tournament last season, falling to Grafton in the quarterfinals.

Despite the loss in the Region II quarterfinals this season, Western’s 2010 team may have been the most fitting end to Rogers’ tenure. He faced one of his more interesting coaching challenges, melding a group of talented young players against a tough out-of-district slate and a Jefferson District that’s clearly making up ground now on the dominant Warriors.

“This was one of the most rewarding teams I coached,” Rogers said. “When you’ve got four sophomores in the rotation all the time, to have that kind of success (23-4 on the year) is just rewarding.”