East Tennessee State University Director of Athletics Scott Carter announced on Jan. 15, 2019 that Benavia Jenkins has been named the new head coach of the ETSU volleyball program.
Jenkins, who becomes the seventh head coach in program history, has spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach at the University of South Florida. Prior to her time at USF, Jenkins coached as an assistant at Coastal Carolina, Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., and was the head coach at Lincoln Park Academy.
Jenkins has compiled an overall record of 111-55 as an assistant coach, while she played collegiately at the University of Florida from 1999-2003. During her playing career, Jenkins helped guide the Gators to a 127-12 overall record (72-0 in Southeastern Conference play) and two Final Four trips, including an appearance in the 2003 NCAA Championship.
“I am truly blessed and honored to be named the next volleyball head coach at East Tennessee State University,” said Jenkins. “I want to thank Dr. Brian Noland, Scott Carter, Kay Lennon McGrew, and the entire search committee for giving me the opportunity to represent ETSU and lead the Buccaneer volleyball program.
“It's a very exciting time to be a part of this athletic department. ETSU has great academics, facilities, and the best fans in the Southern Conference. I'm also looking forward to working with all of the support staff, as I believe they are instrumental in the success of the student-athletes.”
“It is an honor to welcome Coach Benavia Jenkins to the ETSU athletics family,” said Carter. “Coach Jenkins brings a wealth of competitive experience to our program as both a coach and player. The accolades she has accumulated in her career are incredible – from her collegiate and professional success – to the wins she has compiled as an assistant coach. Most impressive about Coach Jenkins is the principled focus and passion she has for the sport of volleyball. Her character and belief in a family-centered team devoted to respect, accountability, growth and learning are what make her an excellent fit for ETSU volleyball and the ETSU family.”
During her time at USF, Jenkins made an immediate impact coaching the middle blockers and outside hitters. Jenkins saw outside hitter Jac’cara Walker and middle blocker Clara Payne receive All-American Athletic Conference honors in 2018. Walker totaled 375 kills, which ranked third among AAC outside hitters, and also recorded 14 double-doubles. Payne, who finished her career fifth all-time in USF history in block assists (360) and eighth in hitting percentage (.282), posted 280 kills, 115 blocks and 29 service aces this past season.
As a team, USF won 20 matches in 2018, and made its first postseason appearance since 2002. The 20 wins were also the most by a Bulls team in over 15 years. The 2018 squad ranked third in the conference in blocks and fourth in hitting percentage, while Jaeden Brown finished the year ranked 32nd nationally in total blocks with 146.
In her first season at USF, the Bulls posted an eight-win improvement from the previous year as they totaled 19 victories. USF ranked in the top-5 among conference leaders in hitting percentage, with middle blocker Joli Holland (.337) and Payne (.321) both ranking in the top-10 in the statistical category. Over her career, Holland ranked fifth all-time in program history with a .302 attack percentage.
Prior to USF, Jenkins spent the 2015 season at Coastal Carolina where the Chanticleers went 29-5 overall, 14-0 in the Big South and went to the NCAA Tournament. Coastal Carolina won 18 straight matches during the year, while the Chanticleers boasted the ninth-best hitting percentage in the country. Jenkins made an impact on the Coastal Carolina hitters as Eszter Nagy ranked 12th nationally with a .417 hitting percentage and Annayka Legros finished 55th with a .364 clip. Both Nagy and Legros earned all-Big South honors, while Jenkins also saw Leah Hardeman earn Big South Player of the Year and AVCA All-Region accolades.
Jenkins began her coaching career at Lincoln Park Academy from 2010-12, and was the founder of the A-Vaneb Volleyball Academy in Fort Pierce, Fla. Following her three-year stint as head coach at Lincoln Park Academy, Jenkins took over as an assistant coach at Santa Fe College. In 2014, their first year of competition, the Saints went 31-7 and won a share of the Mid-Florida Conference title.
Jenkins was an All-American middle blocker at Florida where she totaled over 1,000 kills and 600 blocks. The Fort Pierce, Fla. native became the first Gator to finish with over 600 career blocks, and was a three-time AVCA All-American and four-time all-SEC performer. During her four years in Gainesville, Florida won four straight SEC championships and advanced to back-to-back Final 4 appearances, while reaching the championship game in Jenkins’ senior season. Jenkins was inducted into the Florida Hall of Fame in 2017.
Following an illustrious collegiate career, Jenkins played professionally from 2005-14. competed professionally for teams in Spain (2005-06, 08-10), Austria (06-07), Turkey (07-08), Switzerland (12-14) and Florida (12-14). Her accomplishments include winning the Austria Cup with Vienna (06-07), being a Swiss Cup finalist for Koniz (2007), and finishing in the top 10 in Spain for blocking and attacking (09-10).