Unexpected opportunity

Photo Provided Former Lehman standout Ellie Cain (left) and former Anna standout Rachel Noffsinger (right) will remain teammates next year at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

By Rob Kiser


MARTIN, Tenn. –When former Lehman Catholic volleyball standout Ellie Cain, the daughter of Lonnie and Marti Cain, made the decision to play volleyball for Columbus State Community College last fall, she expected it to be the final journey in a sport she has always loved.

But, that all changed for the setter that ran the Columbus State offense all the way to the national semifinals a year ago, in a very short time recently.

Columbus State coach Jaclynn Yocum was hired as coach at the University of Tennesse at Martin, a D-I program, and immediately offered Cain and former Anna standout Rachel Noffsinger scholarships.

“I didn’t even know she (Jaclynn Yocum) was interviewing for jobs,” Cain said. “It all happened really quickly. She offered me the scholarship at the same time she told me they hired her as coach. I really didn’t even have to think about it. It is super exciting.”

Cain and Noffsinger are part of four women in Yocum’s first recruiting class.

“I am confident these four individuals will help us to be more competitive this fall,” Yocum said. “I am excited about each of them and what they can bring to the Skyhawk program.”

Cain garnered first team All-Ohio Community College Athletic Conference honors as well as first team All-Region 12 and NJCAA All-National Tournament honors as a freshman at Columbus State Community College last season. She helped guide the Cougars to a 34-4 overall record and a 14-0 mark in league play.

Cain handed out 1,579 assists last season, as her 12.53 assists per set led the nation. She also added 93 kills on a .252 attack percentage, 47 service aces, 243 digs (1.93 per set) and 53 blocks in 2014. She tallied at least 40 assists on 25 different occasions, including a career-best 70 assists in a five-set win over Kirkwood Community College on Oct. 17. She also notched eight double-doubles, scooping up a career-high 17 digs at Lorain Community College on Oct. 3.

“I think it did a little (give her confidence),” Cain said. “I guess I never really believed I could play with other players like that and it showed me that I can.”

At Lehman, Cain was named first team All-Ohio while earning District 9 first team and Northwest Central Conference Most Valuable Player honors under legendary coach Greg Snipes. She helped the Lady Cavaliers to over 80 victories and a state championship during her prep career.

“Ellie simply knows how to win – she’s done it her entire volleyball career,” Yocum said. “She has a strong understanding of her role as a setter and embraces having the command on the court.”

It is just as exciting for Cain, that Noffsinger will remain her teammate. They played JO volleyball together for Team Atlantis and were roommates at Columbus State last year.

“We are super friends,” Cain said. “We are going to have a blast in Tennessee and I am super excited.”

Now, she is preparing to play volleyball at the highest level.

“It is going to be a challenge for sure,” Cain said. “But, I am excited about it.”

And can’t wait for her latest — and unexpected journey — in the sport she loves.

Rob Kiser is Sports Editor for the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.