The record books of West Virginia sports got quite the makeover throughout the month of November as Mountaineers across campus — actually, across the globe — found success in their respective sports. Whether it was teams conquering never-before-accomplished goals or individuals receiving recognition for their hard work, the past month truly showcased WVU’s best on the athletic fields.
Here are some of the biggest pieces of history made by Mountaineers this November:
Volleyball makes NCAA Tournament
Coach Reed Sunahara has taken the Mountaineer volleyball program to new heights as he’s led the team to the NCAA tournament for the first time ever.
The 2021 edition of the team has taken advantage of some program stalwarts, like setter Lacey Zerwas and middle blocker Briana Lynch, mixed with some experienced transfers, like outside hitter Adrian Ell, who led the team in scoring after moving in from Florida State in the offseason. WVU finished the season 19-9 with an 8-8 mark in the Big 12, and serves its first NCAA Tournament match on the road on Friday at Illinois.
It’s not the first bit of history the team has made under Sunahara. The Mountaineers started the season off with 10 straight wins, tying the best start in the program’s history. Just a season prior, they cracked the national poll for the first time ever, reaching as high as No. 13 in the nation.
Men’s Soccer fights way into Elite Eight
WVU’s men’s soccer squad has wasted no time garnering success under Daniel Stratford. After just missing out on the NCAA Tournament in the spring (due to some unlikely circumstances), the Mountaineers went on a trip of vengeance in the fall and earned the No. 11 seed and a first-round bye in this year’s dance. They weren’t satisfied there, moving past Virginia Tech at home on penalties and No. 6 Tulsa on the road in double-OT to earn the program’s first Elite Eight in 40 years.
Despite that bit of history, Stratford is still hungry — he and his team aim for WVU’s first-ever trip to the men’s Final Four when they face No. 3 Georgetown on Saturday at noon ET.
On a smaller scale, WVU’s team has made history on the stat sheet as well. Otto Ollikainen became the 14th Mountaineer to score this season when he nudged in the game-winner against Tulsa — never has WVU had that many goalscorers in a single campaign.
McCabe races into the record books
WVU runner Ceili McCabe is just in her junior year, but she’s already made quite the name for herself around Morgantown. This month, her name got even bigger as she became the first-ever Big 12 Women’s Runner of the Year from WVU.
The Vancouver, BC, Canada native finished the season unbeaten after a strong 2021 campaign, running her way right into a first place finish at the Big 12 Championships and a spot on the All-Big 12 Team.
McCabe earned All-American status at the NCAA Championships, earning the best finish in WVU history at third place with a career-best time of 19:29.5.
Men’s hoops serves Pitt for 100th time
West Virginia men’s basketball squared off against its oldest rival for the 188th time, treating the WVU Coliseum’s first-ever November sellout crowd to a 74-59 thrashing of the Panthers in the second game of the season.
The win marked the 100th victory for WVU over the Panthers as four Mountaineers scored in double figures after building a 12-point lead at halftime.
In fact, no other opponent has lost to WVU more times than Pitt. The next closest is Penn State, another rival, and the Mountaineers lead that series 66-53. Sadly, the series between the Mountaineers and the Nittany Lions has remained dormant since 1991.
Huggins keeps climbing the wins list
Just a few games after getting honored for earning his historic 900th win all-time in last year’s NCAA Tournament, Bob Huggins separated himself among some of the greatest coaches ever on the all-time Division I wins list. On Nov. 18, Huggins became the fourth-winningest coach in the history of Division I men’s hoops when his team defeated Elon, giving the coach his 904th win to pass Kansas and North Carolina great Roy Williams.
On Nov. 30, Huggins earned win 906. He now trails UConn legend Jim Calhoun, who recently retired from coaching with 918 D-I wins, by 12 victories.
Leddie goes back-to-back
West Virginia football’s run game has hit some rough patches in recent years, but Leddie Brown put his nose down and fought right through it. For over 2,000 yards worth, to be exact.
Brown completed his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season in WVU’s win over Kansas on Saturday, becoming the first Mountaineer to have back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since 2017. He’s been a massive workhorse for Neal Brown’s offense, averaging 4.9 yards per touch as he’s carried the ball 422 times for 2,075 yards over the last two seasons.
This year, he passed Artie Owens to sit sixth on WVU’s all-time rusher list with 2,888 career yards, while his senior 2021 campaign ranks 21st in WVU history with 1,065 yards. The Philadelphian will compete in the upcoming East-West Shrine Bowl to showcase his talents.
Sean Mahone becomes the most season vet
After the 2020 season, WVU’s seniors were posed with a difficult choice — head out on a high note after defeating Army in the Liberty Bowl, or come back with an extra year of eligibility. Safety Sean Mahone chose the latter, and played himself right into the record books.
Against Kansas on Saturday, Mahone played in his 54th career game as a Mountaineer — the most-ever in the program’s history. The six-year player (if his redshirt 2016 season is included) has made 218 total tackles, including 11 tackles-for-loss and four interceptions. He put a real bow on his career on his Senior Day when he nabbed the game-sealing interception in WVU’s win over Texas.
Mahone has distinguished himself off the field, as well. He was named a finalist for the 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy, colloquially known as the “Heisman for academics,” earning him an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship. He and the 12 other finalists will be in Las Vegas on Dec. 7 for the National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner where the NFF will name a winner.
Ashley Lawrence ranked among world’s best
It truly was a great month to be a Mountaineer where ever one might be, and WVU alumna Ashley Lawrence proved that on the global stage when she finished eighth for the women’s Ballon d’Or — the highest individual award in the sport of soccer.
The defender earned the recognition when she, along with fellow Mountaineer Kadeisha Buchanan, helped lead her native Canada to a gold medal in the Tokyo Games over the summer while helping her club, Paris Saint-Germain, to a Division 1 Féminine championship. In fact, she and Buchanan, who is a regular starter for Olympique Lyonnais, regularly duke it out as parts of two of France’s strongest clubs.
Lawrence was a standout at West Virginia as a three-time All-American and two-time semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Torphy. In 2016, she was a key piece to the Mountaineers’ historic squad that made the College Cup.