« Volleyball 2018

Courtney Pence

Illinois State University


Courtney Pence has been a contributor in the classroom for the Redbirds in her time at Illinois State. After earning an MVC Scholar-Athlete Team Honorable Mention nod in 2016, Pence was awarded a spot on the MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team last season. She has been named to the Illinois State AFNI Honor Roll and MVC Honor Roll in every possible semester for her continued success in the classroom. Pence has also garnered the MVC Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award the past two years, while aiding in Illinois State volleyball’s efforts to earn its third NCAA Public Recognition Award overall and second year in a row, and the AVCA Team Academic Award for the 10th-consecutive season.

With aspirations to work at an insurance agency after graduating in May, Pence spent her summer at a local insurance agency – Rick McLean State Farm Agency – completing an internship, along with summer workouts and taking classes.


Pence makes everyone around her feel good. Serving as a team captain the last two seasons, her teammates confide in her and trust her to make the best decisions for the team, while also serving as a voice. She is someone that her team goes to for guidance and is willing to help anyone she can, whether they have been with the program for her four years or is someone new. Her relentless work ethic is evident through the various records she holds at Illinois State and her pursuit of an MVC record coming into her final season as the top returning active career digs leader in all of NCAA Division I. Pence holds her teammates to a high standard and genuinely wants to leave the Redbird volleyball program better than how she found it. She is a large part in the team’s desire to leave a legacy at Illinois State this season and has rallied her teammates behind the idea. Pence wants everyone around her to be better at what they do, and her attitude rubs off on people and forces people to perform at their very best, no matter their role.


Despite the expectations of student-athletes to perform well in the classroom and on the court, Pence doesn’t see that as an excuse to not give back to her community. Pence views her love of kids as an opportunity to share the sport she loves with those aspiring to play it. She has helped with Illinois State’s volleyball clinics each of her four years with the program, as well as volunteered with Eastview Church’s volleyball league.

Pence has served as a recess and lunch buddy at a local schools, while also volunteering at Hudson Elementary School. She joined her teammates in volunteering with a group of handicapped adults through MarcFirst, helping them work through rehabilitation and work outs. Pence has also volunteered with the Special Olympics and helped facilitate grocery donations at a local grocery store for the community members who need them.


Pence has rewritten the Illinois State volleyball record books in her time as a Redbird. She broke the single-season digs, digs per set and service attempt records in 2017, and holds several other single-season and match records and is on pace to break career records, as well. Pence is averaging 5.67 digs per set, the third-most in Illinois State history, and the 10th-most in NCAA Division I at this point in the season.

Entering the season as the active returning career digs leader in NCAA Division I, Pence needs just 262 to break the MVC career digs mark of 2,656 set back in 2010. With her single-season record of 821 digs set in 2017, Pence helped Illinois State to a program record of 2,515 team digs last season.

Pence is a three-time All-MVC selection (first team 2017 and 2016, second team 2015), while she was named to the MVC All-Freshman Team in 2015 before being named the 2016 MVC Libero of the Year. In 2017, she earned her 10th career MVC Defensive Player of the Week award, breaking the previous record of nine. She was also named an AVCA All-America Honorable Mention selection and to the AVCA All-Region team. So far in 2018, Pence has been named to two all-tournament teams and was named MVC Defensive Player of the Week to open the season.