Nekane Mendizabal

Nekane’s passion for the sport of volleyball was evident at Bunnell High School in Stratford, Connecticut. She was part of the well documented achievements of the Bulldogs during her 2001-2004 career. As a sophomore starter in 2002, the team complied a record of 20-4, followed up by an undefeated 25-0 season in 2003 and 21-4 season in 2004 respectively.

The 2003 team has the distinction of winning every match 3-0, never allowing a team to reach more than 20 points. Throughout her career, the Bulldogs would record victories quickly winning 3-0. An unfortunate ankle injury her senior year, would keep Nekane sidelined for 10 matches. Nevertheless, she was able to amass an impressive 724 kills, 94 blocks and 100 aces at Bunnell. 

Where Nekane’s story is really told is during the 2004 post season. She was absolutely unstoppable in both the Southwest Conference and Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference State Tournaments. The Bulldogs won the tough SWC Championship as Nekane was awarded the Most Valuable Player. Bunnell would defeat Cheshire in Class LL State Championship match 3-2 where Nekane would record a staggering 47 kills on 68 swings, 12 digs and 5 aces. Those in attendance would recall it as one of the most dominant performances in state championship history. In spite of a significant ankle injury, Nekane would finish her senior season with accolades that include, Class LL State Championship MVP, Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year, Hartford Courant, Connecticut Post and the New Haven Register Player of the Year, 1st Team Southwest Conference and selected 1st Team All-State. During Nekane’s career at Bunnell, the Bulldogs were coached by Dave Jockle, a future Connecticut Women’s Volleyball Hall of Fame member Class of 2011. Bunnell finished the 2004 season ranked as the #1 in Connecticut.

This Connecticut grown talent would next find herself playing volleyball for Southern Connecticut State University from 2006-2010. She was selected to the All-Conference team in 2006, second in the Northeast-10 in blocks per game in 2007, while leading the team in kills, aces, digs, and blocks per game again in 2007. At the conclusion of her career in 2010, Nekane was tied for first in all-time at kills with 812 and first in blocks with 351. She currently sits tied for fifth in kills and second in blocks. The team qualified for the NE10 Tournament and won a match in 2009 for the first time in program history. As the team Captain, Nekane led the Owls to win fifty matches in her final two seasons, the highest two-year stretch for the program in thirty years.

Nekane’s passion for volleyball remains steadfast as she is currently coaching both high school and club in Miami, Florida. In 2023, her USAV Junior Nationals 14U team finished #1 in the Florida Region. The Southwest Miami Senior High School girls’ and boys’ volleyball teams have produced numerous District Champions, as well as two Boys’ State Championship Runner up appearances in 2019 and 2021. Currently, Nekane spends her time coaching volleyball, teaching high school weight training courses, and spending as much time with her family as possible.

Jeanne Cooper

Jeanne Cooper

Jeanne Cooper is a lifetime sports enthusiast. Playing Volleyball, Field Hockey, Basketball and Softball all four years at North Babylon High School in New York. Captain her senior year on the volleyball team, Jeanne credits her coach Marilyn Cross for instilling in her athlete’s a true sense of sportsmanship and an unwavering competitive fire to “never give up”.

Her collegiate career began at Southern Connecticut State College. Playing volleyball for future Connecticut Women’s Volleyball Hall of Famer, Lou Albrecht (Class of 2000) and then managed the team under Joan Barbarich another Connecticut Women’s Volleyball Hall of Famer (Class of 2000). Both are experiences that solidified her path of excellence. Following up her collegiate career, Jeanne became the Assistant Volleyball Coach at the University of Bridgeport working along side Cindy Laughlin.

The next 16 years, would find Jeanne at the helm of the Hillhouse High School Girls Volleyball team. Coaching the Bulldogs to numerous District League Titles and CIAC State Tournament appearances. In 1982, Hillhouse reached the State Class M Finals against Branford High School. Capping the season off with a ranking of 3rd in the state.

During her high school coaching career, Jeanne was selected as the Head Coach for the Connecticut East All-Star Team. Furthering her commitment to the sport she was a member of the CIAC Volleyball Committee and served as the CIAC Volleyball Tournament Director. In 2002 she stepped down as the Athletic Director at Hillhouse High School to become the

Director of Health Physical and Athletics for the Hamden Public Schools. After a brief retirement, Jeanne became the Director of Athletics for the Laurelton Hall College Preparatory School for Girls.

Jeanne Cooper’s career in athletics spans over 40 years. Including serving on the Southern Connecticut Conference Executive Committee and the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors Executive Committee. She is also a recipient of the Northeast Women’s Hall of Fame Award, the Robert M Duncanson Meritorious Service Award from the CIAC and recognized of by the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association for service of 20 years.

In addition, Jeanne has been awarded the “Pathfinder Award” presented by the National Association of Girls and Women in Sports. She also received from the Women and Families Center of Central Connecticut the prestigious recognition of the “Women in Leadership Award”.

Currently residing in The Villages Florida, Jeanne finds herself playing golf, pickleball and mahjong. She volunteers for a non-profit “Friends of SoZo Kids Inc. assisting children living in poverty in the Ocala National Forest, Board member of the Open Circle MCC church and Captain of the Hacienda Hills Village Cup Team.

Judith Schaefer Joslin

Judith Schaefer Joslin played high school volleyball at Maloney in Meriden from 1975 to 1978. She was a member of two state championship teams and one silver medal team. She also won her team’s sportsmanship award.

From 1978 to 1982, she played at Southern Connecticut State University as their middle hitter. She was awarded the most improved player award and was captain of the team in her senior year. In 1981, her team competed in the Regional Championship and won the 2nd place silver medal.

Judith played USVBA volleyball in the open division and competed in the Nationals is 1989. She was a successful high school girls volleyball coach from 1982 to 1997 with various teams. At present, she is the boys volleyball coach at Enfield High School and her success earned her the CIAC Boys Volleyball Coach of the Year Award.

Priscilla Wallis Schulz

Priscilla played volleyball at Staples High School from 1971-1973. In these early days of women’s athletics there was no state tournament or All-Star team but Priscilla’s athletic ability and volleyball skills would not go unnoticed. She was an outstanding player and team leader and was selected as team co-captain in 1973.

Priscilla attended Southern Connecticut State College where she continued playing volleyball for Coach Lou Albrecht and then for Coach Joan Barbarich. It was at Southern that Priscilla’s abilities as a setter emerged. As her skills sharpened in this position, she gain confidence and experience is the team’s playmaker. In her senior year she was selected as team captain and she was also chosen as the team’s Most Outstanding Player. In 1977 Priscilla and her teammates qualified for the regional tournament with a 15-6 record. The team made an excellent showing losing in the regional semifinals. Priscilla’s years at Southern are full of memories not only of great matches, but also great teammates. She shared the floor with players like Lynn Spagnesi, Cindy Opalski, and Fran VanDermeer, to name a few.

After graduating from Southern, Priscilla was hired as a physical education/special education teacher at New Canaan High School where she still teaches today. She coached volleyball there from 1978-2002. Continuing to achieve success as a coach Priscilla was selected as the Connecticut High School Volleyball Coach of the Year 1999-2000. She has also been selected to coach the Connecticut High School All-Star game twice (1991 and 2002). She has been serving as the FCIAC volleyball chairperson since 1999.

Priscilla has been married to Dave Schulz for 27 years. They have two daughters who are carrying on the family athletic legacy. Kerry is a former all-state volleyball and tennis player who is currently captain of the Providence College tennis team and Kristin a former all-state field hockey player and currently a field hockey player at the College of the Holy Cross.

Kate Sullivan

Kate began her volleyball career at Bloomfield High School where she competed for four years on the varsity level. She served as captain her junior and senior years. Upon graduation from high school in 1977, Kate studied at SCSU where she chose to try out for the volleyball team. She competed in the successful program for four year, as the team went 103-26.  She served as captain during her junior and senior seasons. She was also named athlete of the week numerous times at SCSU.

Kate also played for the New Haven Dippers for eight seasons where she competed in two national tournaments. In 1981 and ’82 Kate worked at SCSU as the assistant volleyball coach to Joan Barbarich. She ran numerous high school volleyball clinics and was involved in coaching summer volleyball camps.

Louise Albrecht


Louise began her volleyball career in the 1960’s as a player in the Southern California USVBA league. When Lou came to Connecticut, in 1969 where she and Joan Joyce started the Connecticut Clippers USVBA team.

She started the volleyball program at California State University at Fullerton where she coached the team to a 20-9 record. She left California in ’69 to coach at Western Connecticut State University.  In 1970, Lou moved on to Southern Connecticut State University where she posted a 57-8 record. She retired from coaching in 1975 but continued in volleyball as an official.

Lou’s role in officiating was multi-faceted. Her talents were well known as she was summarily invited to present at the Eastern Association for Physical and Health for College Women, CAHPERD and NAGWS. Under her direction, SCSU hosted the EAIAW volleyball tournament in ’74, ’75 and ’81. Lou also held the position of assignor for the EAIAW regional tournament in ’76 and ’77.

She held the position of chairperson of volleyball officials for the Southwest Board in ’71-’72. She officiated in the CIAC Volleyball Championships from ’69-’74 and the EAIAW regional tournament in 1972.

Having been honored for her many achievements as player, coach and official, Lou is a member of the National Softball Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, OK.  She is one of the founders of the CT Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She was inducted into the Northeast Hall of Fame for Women in Sport as well as the CT Women’s Basketball hall of Fame. Most recently, she was inducted into the CT Scholastic and Collegiate Softball Hall of Fame and she received the prestigious Katherine Ley Award from Eastern College Athletic Conference.

Louise served from 1985-1988 on the NCAA Council and from 1986-1988 she served on the Committee for Improvement of Women’s Officiating.

In 1992, Louise retired from her position as associate athletic director at SCSU.


Dr. Joan Barbarich

Joan began her volleyball coaching career at Carnegie Mellon University where she coached from 1967-72. She had her first undefeated season there in 1970. Soon after that she received a Doctoral Teaching Fellowship at Springfield College to coach the women’s volleyball team. She coached Springfield from 1972-74 where she had a 24-0 season and competed in the AIAW national tournament in 1972, and a 26-1 season in 1973 with the only loss coming at the hands of SCSU and Louise Albrecht.

In 1976 Joan began her career at SCSU where she coached for 10 years. During that time, her teams competed against Penn St, University of Pittsburgh, University of Maryland, UConn and URI.

During her first five years as coach at Southern, her teams were considered the reigning volleyball power in the east. This is astounding considering that she did not have one scholarship athlete on any of her teams. Her overall record at SCSU was 264-124 (64%).

While at Southern, Joan also started a USVBA team call the New Haven Dippers which she coached for eight years. While this team competed on the national level, no records were kept at that time.

Joan also coached at summer camps and presented clinics at high schools throughout the state.

She completed the USVBA coaching certification for Level I and Level II in California in ’77 and ’78.