Nickie Sanlin is earning a national coaching honor after guiding McKendree to its best finish in the MIVA and its deepest postseason run in program history.
Off the Block announced Tuesday that Sanlin was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Ivan Marquez Award.
The Ivan Marquez Award is presented to the NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball head coach who best leads their team through off-court or on-court adversity to meet or exceed preseason expectations.
The Bearcats opened 2019 having to replace four graduated starters from the previous year and were picked to finish second to last place in the MIVA preseason poll. Sanlin, though, guided the McKendree to its first top-four finish in the MIVA, its first postseason home match in program history and a victory against Ball State in the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals.
The postseason win marked the second time that the Bearcats advanced to the MIVA Tournament semifinals.
Along with its success in the MIVA, Sanlin led the Bearcats to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the college men’s volleyball season. McKendree rallied from a one-game road deficit to beat then-No. 8 BYU for its first all-time victory versus a top-10 ranked team.
The Bearcats finished at No. 3 in the Off the Block Division II National Coaches Poll — their highest ranking to conclude a season since the poll started in 2017.
Sanlin led the Bearcats to these milestone achievements, but more importantly she supported her players during a critical time. Sanlin helped her players cope and grieve the death of teammate Kirk Jackson, who passed away in January.
The Ivan Marquez Award is named in honor of former EIVA executive director and Concordia-New York coach and athletics director Ivan Marquez.
Marquez early in his 15-year tenure as EIVA commissioner was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer and continued to oversee the conference will receiving regular treatments. He stepped down in 2018 leaving a legacy of transferring the conference into its modern-day form and helping grow college men’s volleyball throughout the East Coast.
The Off the Block staff determines the annual winner of the Ivan Marquez Award. Off the Block is a national award winning website that was established in 2011 and is the nation’s leader in college men’s volleyball coverage.
Along with the Ivan Marquez Award, Off the Block annually presents several college men’s volleyball national honors to recognize outstanding individual performances throughout the season.