Sonny Lewis anchors the Owens volleyball coaching staff for the 17th time in 2017 as he closes in on win No. 600. He has compiled a 585-189 record during his tenure, which has never seen a losing season. In OCCAC play, he has registered a 178-14 record and enters the 2017 season with a 28-match winning streak in conference play.
Over the past three seasons alone, Lewis has led Owens to a 115-23 record overall, including a 40-2 record in OCCAC play. In the past two years, the program won back-to-back OCCAC championships, a pair of Region XII District F tournament titles and made two appearances in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament. From 2010-12, he led Owens to a 124-25 record overall and a 35-1 record in OCCAC play.
During his tenure, Owens has captured 13 OCCAC championships (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016) and five Region XII District E/F titles (2003, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016). At the NJCAA Division II National Tournament, he has finished third (2016), fourth (2012), fifth (2003) and ninth (2015).
On top of that, Lewis is an eight-time OCCAC coach of the year (2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2015) and a five-time Region XII District E/F coach of the year (2003, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016).
In 2016, Lewis led Owens to a 41-5 record overall and a 14-0 mark in OCCAC play. The team spent four weeks, or all of October, ranked No. 2 in the nation, which was the highest ranking in the program's history at the Division II level. The team won 16 straight matches from Oct. 7 through Nov. 17. In the postseason, Owens won the Region XII District F championship and advanced to the NJCAA Division II Final Four before finishing third in the nation.
In 2015, Lewis led the team to a 40-7 overall record (14-0 OCCAC), an OCCAC championship, a Region XII District E championship and a ninth place finish at the NJCAA Division II national tournament. The team achieved an 18-match winning streak at one point that featured just six set losses over that stretch. Following the season, he was named the OCCAC Coach of the Year and Region XII Coach of the Year.
This 2014 season a special one for Lewis as the team captured his 500th win at Owens with a straight set win over Lorain County Community College on Oct. 22. The team finished the season 34-11 overall and 12-2 in OCCAC play, which was good for second place. He guided the team to the Region XII District E loser's bracket finals before falling to No. 6 Columbus State.
In 2011, Lewis won his 400th match with a win over No. 20 Carl Sandburg College before leading the team to program records for fewest losses and best winning percentage (.900). In 2012, the team went 37-11 and advanced to the NJCAA Division II Final Four before finishing fourth in the nation.
While at Owens, Lewis has coached four NJCAA Division II First Team All-Americans (Brooke Gyori, 2016; Macy Reigelsperger, 2015; Dakia Sellers, 2012; Ashley Hill, 2004), five NJCAA Division II Second Team Athletic All-Americans (including Tyanna Smith in 2016), and four NJCAA Div. II Honorable Mention Athletic All-Americans. He has also coached a two-time All-American three times (Gyori in 2015-16; Brittany Egbert in 2010-11 and Stephanie Champine in 2006-07). Moreover, Lewis has coached 24 NJCAA Academic All-Americans through the 2016-17 school year, and Gyori became the program's first ever AVCA All-American in 2016.
In addition to nationally honored student-athletes, Lewis has coached 72 All-OCCAC and 12 OCCAC Player of the Year student-athletes, including 2016 recipient Brooke Gyori, 2015 recipient Macy Reigelsperger and two-time winners Stephanie Champine (2006-07) and Brittany Egbert (2010-11). At the region level, Lewis has coached 40 All-Region XII players, as well as 29 Region XII All-Tournament team selections. Of those 29, four have been named tournament MVP (Christine Tylutki in 2016, Reigelsperger in 2015, Alyssa Meis in 2012 and Egbert in 2010).
In the fall of 2016, Owens placed 10 of 12 volleyball student athletes on the OCCAC's fall all-academic team. The team followed that up with nine selections in the spring 2017 semester. Following the year, seven student-athletes earned NJCAA All-Academic team recognition, which is a program record for most in one season.
Through the 2016 season, Lewis has also coached 29 student-athletes who have moved on to four-year schools after their time with the Express, including eight over the past two years alone. Gyori and Reigelsperger signed with NCAA D-I University of Tennessee Martin, Erika Hartings signed with NCAA Division II Francis Marion University, Taylor Purcell and Christine Tylutki signed with NAIA Siena Heights University and Deanna Smith, Annie Lindeman and Tyanna Smith each signed with NAIA Shawnee State University. Prior to that, 2012 graduate Molly Hilfinger moved on to NCAA Division II Ursuline College, where she had 951 assists as a senior in 2014.
Prior to assuming the head coaching duties at Owens, Lewis served as the head volleyball coach at Springfield High School in Holland, Ohio. In 22 seasons, he won 373 matches and seven Northern Lakes League, 15 sectional, six district and two regional championships. Two of his Blue Devil teams played in the state semifinals.
Lewis won numerous coach of the year honors at the high school level, including seven in the NLL and six in District 7. He twice was named Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Association Coach of the Year and was tabbed once as Ohio Coach of the Year by the National Federation Interscholastic Coaches Association.
Lewis is a member of the Ohio High School Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame and Springfield Hall of Fame. Residing in Toledo, he earned his bachelor's degree in comprehensive social studies from Defiance College in 1970.