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Altavista coach Debra Spencer (far left) cheers with her team during the Group A Division I state championship game in 2013. 

From staff reports

Not too many coaches reach the 400-win mark twice, so count Debra Spencer in elite company.

About two-and-a-half years after notching her 400th career volleyball victory, the longtime Altavista coach accomplished the same feat by getting her 400th career basketball win Tuesday night. But Spencer didn’t care too much about the milestone. She was just glad to see her team get back on track.

Altavista (5-8) defeated William Campbell 44-21, and the Colonels won for the first time in 2020 after dropping their last seven games.

“We had a tough stretch of games since Christmas,” Spencer said, “and I thought our kids did a good job executing some of the things we needed to get done. After some pretty tough losses recently, it finally felt good to leave the gym with a win.”

That gym has been the site of some great moments in Spencer’s coaching career. She earned No. 400 in volleyball there in 2017 and led the Colonels to state volleyball and basketball tournaments with thrilling victories inside the its confines.

Spencer has taken Altavista to at least 20 trips to state tournaments between the two sports. She won a state title in 2004 for basketball and in 2002 for volleyball. Before beginning her coaching career, she played volleyball and basketball at Altavista in the 1980s. Her more than 400 volleyball victories ranks among the leaders in Virginia High School League history.

“It really is about the relationships you have with the kids,” Spencer said by phone after Tuesday’s game. “I’ve been very fortunate to be here at one school all but one year of my career.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with the people that I have. And probably the biggest accomplishment they all could give me would be to say the same thing: that they’re honored to be a part of this program.”

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