Sayles begins his second season as the head coach of the
Gardner-Webb volleyball team, coming to Gardner-Webb in February 2011.
Sayles came to Gardner-Webb after seven seasons at Bryan
College in Tennessee, where he guided the Lady Lions from a mid-level
conference team to a conference power.
In his first season at the helm of the Runnin' Bulldogs'
program, head coach Leo Sayles saw his team increase their win total by five
games from the previous season and post five conference wins, tying the most
conference wins in a single-season for a GWU team in the program's 11-year NCAA
Division I history.
The 2011 Gardner-Webb volleyball team showed constant
improvement throughout the season, setting new team single-season records,
individual records and career marks as the Runnin' Bulldogs posted a 10-20
overall record and a 5-9 record in Big South Conference play.
In 2011 the Runnin' Bulldogs also received postseason
recognition, as senior middleblocker Laura Wilcox earned a spot on the Big
South All-Conference Second-Team for a third-time in four years, while fellow
senior Evan Moffitt was tabbed the 2011 Big South Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of
the Year and was named to the Big South All-Academic Team for the third
straight season. Freshman setter
Heather Feldman received Big South All-Freshman Team honors and was the lone
freshman to be named to the North Carolina College Sports Information
Association University All-State Volleyball Team.
On top of the individual postseason awards, the Runnin'
Bulldogs set both a number of team and individual single-season records in
2011. As a team, Gardner-Webb set a new GWU Division I single-season record in
total blocks with 236 on the season and in block assists with 308 on the year.
GWU's total blocks per set average of 2.05 is the second highest for a
single-season in GWU's DI history, while their 82 solo blocks and their 11.05
assists per set average both rank third in GWU's Division I history for a
The Runnin' Bulldogs also received national recognition in
2011, as their 1.53 aces per set average placed 29th in the nation overall
among the 322 NCAA Division I volleyball programs.
Individually, Wilcox set a new GWU Division I single-season
record in attack percentage, posting a .348 attack percentage with a minimum of
100 kills on the year, which ranked 46th nationally among all NCAA Division I
schools, while Moffitt's 477 digs and 4.26 digs per set average both rank
fourth respectively in GWU's Division I single-season history. Not to be
overshadowed, Feldman's 1,103 set assists and 9.59 assists per set average on
the year both placed her fifth overall in GWU's DI single-season record books
in those respective categories, while junior right side hitter Carol Solano's
68 block assists ranks third and her 77 total blocks ranks fifth overall for a
However, middleblocker Tyler Cockrell's 2011 season was
record setting, as the sophomore set a new GWU Division I single-season record
in total blocks with 150 and in block assists with 108 on the year. Her 1.35 blocks per set average not
only was a new single-season record for GWU, but it also placed her 21st
overall in the nation in blocks per set among all NCAA Division I schools. She
finished the year tied for second overall with 42 solo blocks and posted the
ninth highest attack percentage with a minimum of 100 kills for a single-season
with a mark of .218 on the season.
With strong individual seasons by a number of different
players, career marks were set and career milestones were reached in a number
of different categories in 2011.
Wilcox recorded her 1,000th career kill and her 200th career block
during the year, while Moffitt tallied her 1,000th career dig midway through
the season. Wilcox set the GWU
Division I record for total blocks with 229, only to have Cockrell record
double-digit blocks in two of the final three matches to overtake Wilcox and
set the new record at 255 and counting.
The excitement was in the air in 2011, as the Runnin'
Bulldogs averaged close to 300 people over their nine home matches, a huge
increase in attendance over the last several seasons, as the rafters in Paul
Porter Arena were shaking from start to finish and proved to be a huge home
court advantage for coach Sayles and his team.
The 2011 season also included GWU's first-ever win over
the Liberty Lady Flames and their first-ever conference win over High Point.
During his seven years at Bryan, Sayles posted a record of
153-111, and after recording an overall record of 22-41 in his first two years,
he led a complete turn around over the last five seasons, posting a 70-14
conference record, a 49-8 home record and five straight 20+ win seasons.
On November 15, 2008, he attained his 100th intercollegiate
His 2010 team advanced to their fifth consecutive AAC Final
Four finish and distinguished itself nationally throughout the season, as eight
student-athletes were honored as NAIA National Scholar-Athletes, a number that
was tops among the 262 members of the NAIA association.
In 2009, Sayles' team tied for their first regular season
conference championship, advanced to the conference tournament championship,
then had a fantastic run at the NCCAA National Tournament after receiving an
at-large bid as one of the nation's Top-10 Teams (#6 ranking in NCCAA). The Lady Lions finished second in
tournament pool play and advanced to the National Championship Final Four,
where the eventual national champions, Campbellsville University, defeated
them. The team broke 30 wins for the first time in over 25 years, finishing
with a 31-17 record.
The Lions were the 2007 AAC regular season Runners-up and
advanced to the conference tournament championship for the first time in school
history, then advanced to the NAIA Region XII tournament championship match,
where they fell two points shy of a bid to the NAIA National
Championships. The team was named
NCCAA Mid-East Region Champions and earned an automatic bid to the NCCAA
National Tournament for the first time since 1984 (24-17, 15-3 in AAC).
The 2006 team finished the regular season as the AAC #2 team
with a 27-12 overall record and a 14-4 conference record, as Coach Sayles was
named the Appalachian Athletic Conference Coach of the Year for his
Coach Sayles' has over 20 years of experience as a volleyball
coach at the high school, club and college level.
In his seven seasons at Bryan, he produced two NCCAA
All-Americans, two NAIA All-American Honorable Mentions, 12 AVCA-NAIA
All-Region, 13 NCCAA All-Region, 15 All-Conference selections, six AAC
All-Freshman and 37 AAC Scholar-Athletes.
His teams won the AAC Champions of Character Award in 2004 and 2006, and
were recognized with AVCA Academic Team Awards in 2005 and 2009.
The team received a NAIA Scholar-Team Award in 2009 as well. The overall average GPA since 2004 is a
Coach Sayles' high school girls' teams were ranked in the
top-20 in California, and as high as No. 5 in Connecticut. His boys' teams
advanced to the final four in Connecticut in each of his final two seasons
there. He has a number of high school conference championships and personal
awards to his credit and has won conference and regional championships in
basketball, track and soccer as well.
During his 10 years as a teacher, he received several
awards, including the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth - Teacher
Recognition award, the East Hartford School-Business Partnership
Staff-Volunteer award, and the first East Hartford National Honor Society
"Light Of Our Lives" award.
Sayles is an active member of the American Volleyball
Coaches Association and most recently served as the Appalachian Athletic
Conference Volleyball chair. He
has served terms on the AVCA-NAIA Head Coaches Executive Committee and as the
NCCAA Mid-East Region Chair, as well as having served on Regional and State
Executive Boards for FCA. His
devotions have been featured on FCA's IMPACT daily email devotions, and he was
featured in a 2007 article in FCA's "Sharing the Victory Magazine".
Sayles is a licensed minister and sought after speaker at
Christian schools, youth ministries and camps.
Coach Sayles is supported by his wife of 20 years, Tanya,
and their five children - Benjamin, Faith, Jonathan, Nathaniel, and Anna Rose.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT COACH SAYLES
"Gardner-Webb is in great hands with Leo leading their
program. Leo has the integrity,
experience, vision, passion, and leadership to grow Gardner-Webb into a program
that will be highly successful.
Not only will the team find success on the court; the players will grow
mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually as well. Families who want to see their
daughters mentored as well as coached while competing at the NCAA Division 1
level should highly consider Leo and Gardner-Webb to provide that
-Deane Webb, Head Volleyball Coach at Belmont University
"I believe Leo Sayles is a fantastic addition to
Gardner-Webb. He will set high
standards and raise the bar tremendously within the gym and in the
classroom. His presence and vision
for wanting to do the right things, daily, will help bring a bright future to
the volleyball program. The
players and staff of Gardner-Webb are very blessed to have Leo as a part of the
-Don Flora, Head Volleyball Coach at Texas Tech University
"Leo Sayles embodies what being a Christian Coach is
all about. He pursues
excellence in his life and with his teams. He will be great addition to the Gardner-Webb
-Matt Bollant, Women's Basketball Head Coach at University of
Bay" Quality, top to bottom! ... Leo took a rather mediocre
team at best and turned it into a highly respected, competitive program, and he
did it within the context of college philosophy and mission.... He is
interested in producing men and women of character; young people who will become
adults marked with integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness; who will be good
husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, employees and employers; who will love
God and love people, and will contribute something positive to their
generation.... He is committed to Christ and to building into the lives of his
-Sanford Zensen, Director of Athletics / Head Men's Soccer Coach at
"(Leo) builds young ladies into champions on and off
the court...(Leo) is a great networker among coaches and other programs...(Leo)
leads a life of great character visible at all times.... Leo has kept himself
and his team as testimonies of what character athletics should be.... Leo
participates in many events on campus including speaking in chapel.... He has
been a leader in FCA.... His involvement in the community at high schools and
churches and camps is widely known.... Leo is what a Christian college coach
should be.... His priorities are...God, family, and vocation.... You can hire
expertise, but you cannot buy character. Leo has both."
-Stephen D. Livesay, President at Bryan College
"He did a remarkable job with the program, completely
turning it around to become a top-level program...Leo take(s) players with
limited ability from being a practice player their freshman year to being an
all-conference player their senior year.... Students know and have seen how
much he cares about their well-beings.... It is his heart that sets him apart
from other coaches.... A leader, a mentor, a person who loves his family first
and desires to raise up a generation of strong, Christian women on and off the
-Johnny Miller, Assistant Volleyball Coach at Bryan College
"I can attest to his desire to honor the Lord in all
things and his pastoral heart for the girls (he coaches)."
-Christine Mooberry, Head Volleyball Coach at Montreat College