NEW PALESTINE — It isn’t as much the number of wins, but how quickly she got there.
With a 3-0 victory over visiting Hamilton Heights on Wednesday, New Palestine head volleyball coach Kelli Gabehart recorded her 200th victory.
Not too bad for a coach just starting her 10th season at the helm of her alma mater.
It’s special,” Gabehart said. “When I think about 200 wins I think about all the players past and present that have led me to that, also, my coaching staff. We’re a tight-knit group. I couldn’t do it without them. I love my team. I love coaching at New Pal and I love the town. It’s my alma mater, so it’s just special.”
Assistant coach Bill Rumely has been with her all 10 seasons. Current assistant coaches Jamie Morris and Taylor Lawson are former New Pal players. Morris was part of Gabehart’s first team in 2013.
Gabehart’s teams won sectional titles in 2016 and 2017. The 2016 team advanced all the way to the Class 3A Final Four. She got her 100th career win during the 2017 season.
“We’ve had a lot of successful years and special seasons,” Gabehart added. “Even when we didn’t have that postseason success, our regular seasons have been really competitive every year.
“We kind of just reload. Sometimes we have a lot of graduating seniors and wonder who is going to step up. The kids always answer that call.”
The sectional title teams each had 27-win seasons. Gabehart’s squads have won at least 20 matches in six of the last seven years and had winning seasons in eight of the nine completed campaigns.
In Wednesday’s win, the Dragons beat the Huskies by set scores of 26-24, 25-17, 25-16.
“In the second and third set, we found our groove,” Gabehart said.
Lauren Wilson had a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs. Reagan Kleiman had 10 kills to go with two blocks and three service aces.
Setter Isabella Gizzi had 31 assists, four kills, three aces and four digs. Libero Honour Mallory had 15 digs.
Adding to both the attack and defense, Rachel Burke had eight kills and two blocks. Bella Brownfield had six kills and two service aces. Nyla Lewis contributed four digs and two kills.
Gabehart is a 2006 New Palestine High School graduate. She went on to play collegiately at Indiana State from 2006-09.
“I just love to coach. It’s such a passion of mine and brings me a lot of joy,” Gabehart said. “The kids are the reason why I love doing this.”
“I don’t see an end in sight. I have a growing family. I’m about to have another baby and I have a one-year-old at home. I’m not ready to give it up. I hope to be doing it for another 10 years or more.”