Baseball: Oral Roberts vs. Stephen F. Austin
Wed, 05/22/13 10:00 AM - 10:00 AM EST
Success isn’t a new idea for Oral Roberts University volleyball head coach Sheera Sirola. After putting together one of the most decorated playing careers in the history of the Golden Eagle program, Sirola enters her tenth season at the helm of her alma mater poised to lead ORU to its second NCAA Tournament in her tenure. With a veteran roster stocked with members of last season’s 20-win campaign, that goal looks well within Sirola’s reach.
Having been a part of the Golden Eagle program for nearly two decades, Sirola has played an integral role through the volleyball team’s banner years. ORU has amassed a stellar 393-186 (.679) record during her 17 years as a player and a coach. Sirola helped lead ORU to eight straight NCAA Tournaments from 1995-2002, as the team averaged 25 wins per season during that same span. Her record as Head Coach stands at 170-111 (.605)
Though the Golden Eagles are no longer part of the Summit League, Sirola’s name is unlikely to fade away from the conference’s record books anytime soon. Sirola ended the 2011 season as the Summit League’s career leader in overall head coaching victories (170) and conference victories (99).
Sirola saw ORU through its time of Summit League (formerly Mid-Continent Conference) dominance, having been a part of every coaching staff since the Golden Eagles joined the league prior to the 1997 season. During those 15 years, the volleyball team compiled a mark of 167-45 (.788) in conference matches and posted at least 10 Summit League victories in 13 of the 14 seasons after the league expanded to a 12-game schedule in 1998.
The Golden Eagles also proved their superiority in the Summit League Tournament, as they held a 19-5 (.792) mark that included a string of 12 consecutive victories from 1997 to 2002.
The 2011 season marked a return to dominance for Sirola’s Golden Eagle program. ORU posted 20 wins on the season, including 12 Summit League victories, and they advanced to the finals of the Summit League Tournament for the first time since 2008.
Sirola led ORU on a midseason stretch where they garnered wins in 19 out of 20 matches. The Golden Eagles also took midseason tournament titles at both Kennesaw State and McNeese State.
Individually, Sirola coached libero Bruna Silva to one of the finest seasons in program history. Just a sophomore at the time, the Brazilian superstar amassed 673 digs, third-most in school history, and she became ORU’s first Summit League Defensive Player of the Year since 2006.
Since Sirola took over as head coach in 2003, Golden Eagles have collected conference accolades on a regular basis. In the last nine seasons, 19 of Sirola’s players have received All-Conference recognition, including nine first-team honorees. In 2004, Becky Dreher, a two-time 1st Team All-Mid-Con selection, was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, while Ori Zuzic earned the Mid-Con Player of the Year honor back-to-back in 2005 and 2006. Also in 2006, Thais Parada was named Setter of the Year, while Cris Alves garnered the Defensive Player of the Year award. Silva added to ORU’s Player of the Year trophy case in 2011 with her Defensive Player of the Year award.
In 2008, Sirola produced her fourth 20-win season with a 22-9 overall record and a 13-3 Summit League mark en route to a second-place showing. The Golden Eagles advanced to the finals of the conference tournament before falling to North Dakota State, who posted an undefeated 16-0 mark in league play. Danijela Novakovic and JoJo Souza earned 1st Team All-Summit League honors while Janete Ferreira and Juliane Vieira were named to the second team. Vieira was also named the league’s Setter of the Year.
The 2007 season saw two Mid-Con All-Conference selections return in Thais Parada and Jackie Oliveira as well as four non-starters from the 2006 regular-season and conference tournament championship team. Sirola picked up career-win No. 100 in a five-game victory against North Dakota State.
In 2006, the Golden Eagles were able to push through and win their first Mid-Con title since 2002, a first since the arrival of Sirola. In her fourth season at the helm, Sirola posted her highest win total (26) and winning percentage (.743) ever as head coach. She led her squad to its best conference record since the 2002 season and its third 20-win season in the last four years. Sirola led her 2006 squad to the national tournament for the first time since 2002.
During her years as an ORU assistant coach (1996-2002), Sirola helped produce 23 all-conference performers, 16 of which were First-Team All-Mid-Con selections. She tutored three Mid-Con Player of the Year award winners, including fellow Croatian Maja Kuljis and Juliana Moser, the only player in conference history to receive the honor three times.
Sirola also influenced three Mid-Con Newcomer of the Year winners (Patricia Menezes, Patricia Domingues, and Kuljis) along with six Mid-Con Tournament MVPs during her stint as an assistant.
Sirola’s presence on the coaching staff has also given the ORU roster a distinct Croatian flavor over the last nine years. Seven players from her native Croatia have joined the ORU team during that time, including recent standouts Zuzic, Novakovic, Mirela Basic and Maja Devic.
Despite spending just two years in a Golden Eagle uniform (1994-95), Sirola put her own personal mark on the program by establishing several season and career records that still stand today. Known for her killer jump serve, Sirola set the school’s single-season record with 99 service aces in 1994, and she led the entire NCAA with 98 aces during the 1995 season. Her career total of 197 service aces stood as the highest mark in ORU history until it was eclipsed by Zuzic in 2006, and Sirola still sits 2nd on ORU’s career charts. Sirola also ranks among ORU’s career top five in kills per game (3rd), hitting percentage (3rd), and digs per game (4th).
Before coming to ORU in the fall of 1994, Sirola spent time as a member of the Yugoslavian Junior National Team. When the country became divided after civil war, she represented her nation on the Croatian National Volleyball Team.
Once her collegiate career was over, Sirola spent two seasons as a Golden Eagle student assistant before moving to the full-time staff prior to the 1998 season.
Sirola also found success on the soccer field while at ORU, playing four games as a defender and goalkeeper in 1995. She started the year in the net and posted a 3-0 shutout against Kansas Newman.
Once her playing career was over, Sirola stayed at ORU and completed her undergraduate degree in Physical Education in May of 1998. She then became the first volleyball player to be inducted into the ORU Athletics Hall of Fame in February of 2003.