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Coaching Staff

2013 Volleyball

Jason Smith New Jason Smith

Volleyball - Head Coach

Email: Jason Smith

Finally!  When Jason Smith made a triumphant return to the AWC Volleyball sidelines in 2010, he expected that it ‘might’ take a year to get things back to the championship ways that his teams became accustomed to when his Lady Matadors won Region I titles in Smith’s first tour of AWC duty in 2006 & 2007.  After taking the ’10 & ’11 Lady Mats to the Region I Finals but not getting the win, Smith finally was successful in 2012 in getting them there and taking home the championship trophy.  However, as he heads to his fourth year of his second stint as the head coach of the Matador Volleyball program, he still feels a sense of unfinished business, since he thought his ’12 team could’ve gone further than that.  Smith’s first AWC stint that began in 2006 was immediately successful-thanks to Jason using his extensive recruiting skills to bring in a hugely talented class that won a combined 46 games in two years, and took home the school’s 7th & 8th straight Region I Volleyball Championships, falling just one win short of reaching the NJCAA Tournament each time.   Around his two eras at AWC, Smith has been an integral part of Mountain West Conference volleyball at two different schools.  In 2008 & 2009, Smith was the lead assistant for the volleyball team at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, helping lead the Lady Rebs to a 16-win season his first year.  Before coming to AWC the first time, Smith made his four-year college coaching debut at the University of Utah as their volleyball team’s assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for three seasons.  The Lady Utes won two Mountain West Conference titles during Smith’s tenure-thanks to his nationally recognized recruiting classes.  Smith came to Utah from NCAA Division II Ferris State, where as an assistant, he helped lead them to a pair of 20-win seasons and an NCAA Division II Tournament bid.  AWC isn’t the only NJCAA college that Smith has coached at, since he was also an assistant at Iowa Western CC when they finished 10th in the NJCAA Tournament.  Smith’s coaching career began as an assistant and head coach at NAIA school Avila College.  Smith’s playing days were spent in Iowa at Graceland University, where he was a 3-time all-region selection.  Smith’s dedication to what his student-athletes accomplish on the court is matched by his devotion to what their academic outcomes are, since all five of his Matador Volleyball squads have been named NJCAA All-Academic Teams, earning the honor by having a cumulative 3.0 grade point average or higher.  Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in business and economics while at Graceland.  Smith and his longtime love, AWC Assistant Volleyball Coach Jennifer Lake, are celebrating their second year of marriage this year.


Alyce Peters

Volleyball - Assistant Coach

E-Mail: Alyce Peters

It’s an opportunity that came on late in the process, but that didn’t matter to Alyce (pronounced uh-LEES) Peters. When Jason Smith contacted her about an open spot on his coaching staff in mid-July, Peters jumped at the chance to become the newest cog in the Lady Matadors’ Volleyball machine. While this is Peters’ first full-fledged assistant coaching job, she’s shown her leadership skills at every turn of her volleyball career. Peters comes to AWC for only her second foray outside of her home state of Texas. Peters got her coaching feet wet this spring as a graduate assistant at Angelo State Univ. in San Angelo, Texas after earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Production & Performance from Texas State Univ. Texas State was the only place that volleyball wasn’t her main focus, since before transferring there, she was a two-sport star at Nicholls State Univ. in Thibodaux, Louisiana, running hurdles both indoor and outdoor for NSU while playing right side hitter for the Lady Colonels’ Volleyball team. Before that, Peters was the ‘pride of Pleasanton’ as she was the three-year captain and two-time Most Valuable Player for Pleasanton High’s Volleyball team, earning All-District honors all four years of her high school career. Peters is thrilled to add her knowledge of the game to help the Lady Matadors defend their Region I title, and continues to work on the graduate degree in Student Development and Leadership that she began at Angelo State.
 Jennifer Lake

 Jennifer Lake

Volleyball - Assistant Coach

Jennifer Lake begins her 3rd season as the Lady Matadors’ Director of Volleyball Operations, helping the coaching staff and student-athletes with day-to-day office and game day logistics.  Lake took her position well beyond office administration last year, using social media to help promote the volleyball program as well as the team’s matches and camps through Facebook and other means; and coordinating team travel along with pre-game & post-game meals.  Lake has been able to effectively funnel her vast experience in administrative duties, managerial duties, technology and social networking into her first experience working with a college athletic program.  Lake came to Yuma after spending over 15 years working for a construction company in Las Vegas, Nevada, ascending the ladder from courier and receptionist to Accounts Receivable Manager, Credit and Collections Manager, and Contract Billings Manager.  This career required very detailed oriented tasks, along with great organizational skills, while reporting to upper management, and also directing a small team to perform tasks for the business to grow and flourish.  During the construction boom, she was able to be an integral part of doubling the company’s gross profits, while maintaining a very small past due collections.  Jennifer also enjoys spending time on creating various websites, as well as working to expand her company, Jenn’s Gems, which specializes in handcrafted gemstone jewelry, She also dotes on the two loves of her life:  her cat, Pebbles, and her husband, AWC Head Volleyball Coach Jason Smith.  

Jennifer Tagaban

Jennifer Tagaban

Volleyball - Assistant Coach

E-Mail:  Jennifer Tagaban

Even with his six years of service to AWC under his belt, Jason Smith is still not the school’s longest tenured volleyball coach.  That tag goes to ‘Tags’-the nickname people know Jennifer Tagaban by.  Tagaban begins Year #7 on the Matador Volleyball coaching staff, and her ninth year as a Matador overall.  What’s amazing is that Tagaban has never been part of a Matador Volleyball team that didn’t at least reach the Region I Finals.  Her Matador career started in 2002 as a student-athlete, when the Pomona, California, native signed with the Mats after becoming a dominating starting setter for two years at Cibola High School, earning All-Southwest Region honors as a senior.  As a Lady Matador, Tagaban showed then-Lady Matadors’ Head Volleyball Coach James Finley what a quick study she was, and went from the Lady Matadors’ bench to his starting lineup as a sophomore, earning All-ACCAC Honorable Mention honors her second year.  Tagaban’s teams as a Matador player were carbon copies of each other, since the ’02 & ’03 Lady Mats each won a Region I title, earned an NJCAA Tournament berth and finished 7th in the nation.  That was the end of Tagaban’s playing career, since she focused solely on academics (after getting her Associate’s degree from AWC) at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2006.  It wasn’t long after she received her diploma that her college coaching career began, thanks to the offer she took from Jason Smith to return home to Yuma and become his assistant.  Besides her two years playing at AWC, Tagaban also knows the volleyball floor at ‘The House’ well from her three years of playing club volleyball for Club Salsa under Finley and former Lady Matadors’ Head Volleyball Coach Kerry Messersmith on the same court.  In addition to her volleyball duties at AWC, Tagaban begins her 3rd year as the school’s Coordinator of Residential Life.  

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