Rose Obunaga (pronounced Oh-boo-na-ga) begins her fifth season as head coach at Stephens College and continues to build the volleyball program into a contender at the conference level.
Obunaga guided the Stars to their best record of her tenure during the 2014 campaign when they finished 13-17. The 13 wins marked the most in a single season since 2010. In American Midwest Conference play, the Stars were a program-best 5-7 and qualified for the AMC Tournament before falling to eventual AMC and NAIA champion Park University. For the first time in program history, the Stars landed more than one player on the AMC All-Conference team with Kerri Kircher and Samantha Phegley both earning honorable mention.
In her second season at the helm, Stephens was 6-24 overall with one victory in league play against Harris-Stowe State. Other wins included a non-conference battle with HSSU, Southwestern (Kan.) in the first match of the season, along with Calvary Bible College, Avila and Midway.
In 2012, Obunaga guided the volleyball Stars to a 9-22 overall record, picking up four conference victories (4-14, American Midwest) and an upset win over Central Methodist (Mo.). Two individuals ranked in the top 50 nationally at the end of Obunaga’s first season as head coach, including Kelsie Byrd in blocks per set (23rd) and Lanie Hurt in assists per set (44th).
Obunaga looks to parlay a dominant playing career into an equally impressive coaching resume. The two-time Olympian hit the international circuit as a member of Kenya’s National Volleyball team in 2000 at the Sydney Summer Olympics. In the midst of her college career, Obunaga joined Kenya once again for the Athens 2004 Summer Olympics.
At the collegiate level, Obunaga left quite the legacy at Missouri State University-West Plains. The two-time, first-team NJCAA All-American finished her two-year stint at MSU-West Plains ranked second all-time in total blocks (463), solo blocks (178), kills (1,302), attacking percentage (.444) and points earned (1,844). In 2009, Obunaga was inducted into the MSU-West Plains Athletics Hall of Fame.
The Kakamega, Kenya native is no stranger to NAIA. Following her junior college playing career, Obunaga attended Central Methodist (Mo.) where she earned first-team NAIA All-American honors. In 2005, she transferred to Columbia College and helped the Cougars to a 35-4 overall record and runner-up finish at the NAIA National Tournament. Leading the team in kills, kills/set, blocks, solo blocks and blocks/set, Obunaga added to her long list of accolades with first-team NAIA All-American and All-Tournament honors.
At Columbia, Obunaga served as a student assistant volleyball coach while completing her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (2006). In 2011, Obunaga completed a master’s degree in Public Service Administration from the University of Evansville, where she served as a graduate assistant coach.
Other coaching opportunities for Obunaga have included a volunteer position at Washington University in St. Louis and a head coaching position with H2 St. Louis Volleyball Club U17s.
Obunaga resides in Columbia, Mo., and has one daughter, Yonne Nasimiyu. Yonne is a junior for the volleyball Stars this season.
In her second season as graduate assistant coach for the Stars, Fields will assist head volleyball coach Rose Obunaga with both the varsity and junior varsity programs.
The volleyball background that Fields brings to Stephens is immeasurable. Growing up in Brazil, Fields was introduced to the sport of volleyball early on and progressed on the front line as a middle, outside and right-side hitter. Because of her height and skill, she excelled in each role, but was steered to the position of setter by a Brazilian National Team coach. After setting for just 18 months, she was recruited to Columbia College by longtime head coach Melinda Wrye-Washington.
She began her journey from Brazil to Columbia, Mo. in 2005. During her four-year career at CC, she racked up numerous individual conference and national awards. She was named First Team AMC All-Conference and AMC Setter of the Year all four years. In addition, she was honored as AMC Freshman of the Year in 2005 and AMC Player of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
Her decorated volleyball career didn't stop there. At the national level, Fields was named an NAIA Honorable Mention All-American as a freshman. The following three seasons as a Cougar, she took home the top award as a First Team All-American. Luana currently holds the career record in total blocks and sets played at Columbia College, and is second in career assists, third in digs and seventh in kills.
On July 22, Fields was inducted into the Columbia Cougar Athletic Hall of Fame as a member of the 2015 class.
Following graduation in 2010, Fields served as a volunteer assistant coach with the Cougars. She currently works at SuretyBonds.com as a commercial surety underwriter and resides in Columbia with her husband and college sweetheart, Mikel Fields, along with her first child, Olivia. In her spare time, Luana enjoys a variety of activities such as knitting, crocheting, painting, reading, playing volleyball, yoga and biking.