At 4 a.m. last Saturday morning, Hermann volleyball coach Linda Lampkin wasn’t thinking about a milestone win. She hurried out the door to meet her team at the high school for a 5:45 a.m. departure to Lebanon.
Yet, winning is what Lampkin does. Heading into the Lebanon Tournament on Saturday, she needed six wins for her 900th win, and her Lady Bearcats went 6-0 to win that tournament for the first time ever.
Lampkin became the first high school volleyball coach in Missouri to win 900 games. In 2013, the year she won her 800th match, she was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
It was a week not to be forgotten for the veteran head coach who is in her 38th season guiding the Hermann volleyball program. On Monday the Lady Bearcats won a three-set match at Pacific; lost in two games at Washington on Tuesday, 24-26, 28-30, then played one of its most solid matches on Thursday at home in defeating New Haven 26-12, 26-13.
On Friday her husband, Brad, retired from Melton Machine & Control Co. in Washington with 28 years of service, and after the retirement luncheon and program which she attended, they both hurried back to Hermann so Coach Lampkin could ride on the float with her volleyball team in the homecoming parade.
It was nearly 10:30 Saturday night when she finally returned home, but her 900th win was etched in Missouri prep sports history.
“We really didn’t play well in pool play Saturday morning, maybe it was too much homecoming Friday night. But then in the semifinals the girls really turned it on,” said Lampkin, referring to an impressive two-set win over Strafford, a Springfield area team that’s ranked second in one state poll and had lost just one match. “They were excited to play Strafford.”
The Lady Bearcats, now 21-5-1, defeated Lebanon in three sets in the championship match.
Lampkin, a 1975 graduate of Hermann, retired as athletic director and assistant principal at Hermann in 2009. She said it doesn’t seem like 38 years since she’s been the head coach, and admitted she’s not quite ready to quit.
“It’s still fun. My mom said when it’s not fun anymore you’ll be ready to quit.”
The Lady Bearcats, with their sights on another Four Rivers Conference title (it would be Lampkin’s 21st), had an exceptional performance in the Kessler Crossroads Classic at Effingham, Ill. earlier this season. They won second in the Silver Flight, losing to McCracken County of Paducah, Ky. Their only other loss there was to Naperville (Ill.) Central. Both schools have enrollments of over 2,000. The last time Hermann had played for the Silver Flight championship was in 2010. The Lady Bearcats have been playing in that tourney for over 20 years.
Lampkin believes in playing a tough schedule, and that means playing larger schools. She has 300-plus losses, but many of those have come against the larger schools.
“The reason we’ve done well in our class is because we play those schools during the season,” said Lampkin, who has won 12 state championships at Hermann. “Our goal is to get them ready for the postseason.”
Lampkin’s Lady Bearcats have won more district titles (30) than conference championships (20), and the coach knows why.
“We have Washington, Borgia and New Haven close to us, and sometimes we play them twice a year because they’re in our tournament. Then we also play Jefferson City and Helias, Rock Bridge and Hickman in addition to the tournaments at Effingham and Lebanon.”
She said at one time when Washington was in the Four Rivers Conference, it was “really tough” to win the conference.