Prior to Ken Murphy's arrival in Flagstaff, the Northern Arizona volleyball team had just one NCAA Tournament appearance to its name. Since then, Murphy has guided the Lumberjacks to a pair of conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2015 and 2018 during their most successful stretch in program history.
The 2020 season will be Murphy's eighth season at the helm of the NAU volleyball program. He was hired as the 11th head volleyball coach in Lumberjack history on July 1, 2013. Since taking over the Lumberjacks, Murphy has elevated the program to be not only a perennial contender within the Big Sky Conference, but one that is highly competitive both regionally and nationally.
Murphy, the 2018 Big Sky Coach of the Year, has coached NAU to Big Sky Championships in 2015 and 2018. On Oct. 24, 2019, he became NAU’s all-time winningest coach following the Lumberjacks’ sweep of Northern Colorado – the 2019 conference champions – in the Rolle Activity Center. The win was his 144th at the helm of the Lumberjack volleyball program as he surpassed Kelley Sliva Mc Kee’s 143 wins in 39 fewer matches. Entering the 2020 season, Murphy has compiled a 152-67 record in Flagstaff and he owns the program's highest win percentage (.694). His .694 winning percentage also ranks fifth in Big Sky Conference history and is first among active coaches. In addition, the 'Jacks have also been nearly unbeatable at home since Murphy took over, compiling a 70-13 record at the Rolle Activity Center, including a 26-1 stretch from 2015-16.
The Lumberjacks' 152 wins over Murphy's tenure are the most of any Big Sky institution. NAU is the one of two active Big Sky institutions to make multiple NCAA Tournament appearances in the last seven years. Since arriving in Flagstaff, Murphy has coached 24 all-conference selections, which is tops in the Big Sky.
Murphy has coached two Big Sky Most Valuable Players (Janae Vander Ploeg, 2015; Kaylie Jorgenson, 2018). Vander Ploeg (AVCA) and Jorgenson (VolleyballMag.com) also garnered All-American recognition in their MVP seasons. Additionally, Murphy recruited three consecutive Big Sky Outstanding Freshmen (Abby Akin, 2016; Heaven Harris, 2017; Ryann Davis, 2018) as NAU became the first school ever to boast three consecutive top freshmen. Away from the court, Murphy has also risen the academic profile of the program with NAU earning the AVCA Team Academic Award in both 2018 and 2019. Previously, NAU had gone six years without receiving the honor awarded to teams who achieve at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA during the academic year. In 2019, under Murphy’s guidance, Abby Stomp became only the second Academic All-American in program history in her senior season.
Rachel Dunlap Assistant Coach
Rachel Dunlap, a former standout middle blocker at Central Connecticut State, joined the Northern Arizona volleyball staff in May 2017.
Dunlap concluded her three-year playing career at Central Connecticut State as one of the country's elite middle blockers in 2013 and 2014. In both of her final two seasons, she ranked in the top 25 nationally in blocks per set. As a junior, Dunlap finished the year ranked sixth in the NCAA with a block average of 1.54 and totaled a program record 163 blocks – both of which led the Northeast Conference. She ranked 21st nationally the following season with 1.38 blocks per set while posting career-highs in hitting percentage (.342), kills (253) and kills per set (2.43) as a senior. Dunlap once again led the NEC in blocks in addition to hitting percentage.