High School Volleyball Coach
For conclusive proof that the future is hidden from our eyes, one need only consult the coaching career of Sally Kus. Upon her arrival at Sweet Home High School in the early 1970s, Kus was called upon to coach girls’ volleyball. With a background in field hockey and basketball, she initially resisted, and only reluctantly acquiesced. The volleyball “future” for Kus at Sweet Home, which she could not initially envision, turned into the most remarkable success story in Western New York scholastic sports history.
Over the next 23 years, Kus’s Lady Panthers compiled a staggering record of 792 wins and 29 (not a misprint) losses. Those wins were the foundation for 15 consecutive Far West Regional Titles, 20 consecutive Section VI Class A titles and the first six Western New York State Championships awarded (1990-1995). With one exception, the Lady Panthers have ranked in the top 20 nationally every year since the rankings began; in 1991-92, Sweet Home stood at the pinnacle of those rankings as the number one team in the country. In 1996, Volleyball Magazine recognized the Sweet Home program as the nation’s best in the sport’s 100-year history.
The single most memorable accomplishment of Kus’s squads was undoubtedly the 292-match winning streak that spanned eight undefeated campaigns from 1978-1987. The streak obliterated not only the previous record for girls’ volleyball (93), but far surpassed the mark of 218 consecutive wins by the Baskin, Louisiana girls’ basketball team (1947-53) which had stood as the longest win streak in history of high school sports in the United States. The defeat came not at the hands (or fists) of a local team – her Lady Panthers did not lose a match to a Western New York team since 1977 – but to a team from Horseheads (Elmira).
Sally is understandably proud of the honors and awards which have come her way. She was the first coach of the Empire State Games team in 1978, and she was selected as first coach for the All-American match in New Mexico in 1991. The 1987 Regional, New York State and National Coach of the Year has also been feted by the Women’s Sports Foundation in Washington DC and received the inaugural Medallion of Merit from the National Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1996. However, Sally’s focus has always been more attuned to the girls she coached rather than on personal awards, and she is most proud of the more than 70 full athletic scholarships awarded players in the Sweet Home program over the years and the six New York State Scholar-Athlete Teams (90+ scholastic team average) she has produced.
Sally Kus turned over the reins of the Sweet Home girls volleyball program in May 1997. The Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame was honored to be the first in line to honor this distinguished coach at the conclusion of a glorious high school coaching career.