Though her roles seem to be changing, Jenny Fuente has proven that her name will forever be etched in Redbird volleyball history. Promoted to Associate Head Coach in January, Fuente has contributed greatly to the success of the Illinois State program both as a player and coach.
Entering her fourth season on Dingman's staff, the former three-time All-Missouri Valley Conference middle blocker joined the Redbird staff after completing her college eligibility in 2002. She was a graduate assistant her first season, and a full-time assistant starting in 2004.
Working primarily with the hitters and blockers, Fuente coached the senior pair of Laura Doornbos and younger sister Emily Kabbes to record-setting success in 2005. Under Fuente's direction, Doornbos logged more than 390 kills and 28 service aces, while Kabbes notched 113 blocks and 265 kills. Additionally, the Doornbos-Kabbes duo are No. 1 and 2, respectively, in career points in the Redbird record books.
Fuente has also been instrumental in the development of middle blocker Kari Staehlin. Staehlin garnered second-team all-MVC accolades last season after leading the Redbirds with a .337 attack percentage and collecting a team second-best 68 blocks. Stahelin's career .319 hitting percentage ranks second in the all-time in the Illinois State annals.
As a player from 1998-2002, she rebounded from two major shoulder surgeries mid-career to become the No. 7 blocker in Valley history and No. 2 in Redbird history. She is one of two players in ISU history with 500 or more career blocks.
A Normal, Ill., native, Fuente-led Quack Attack volleyball club teams were regulars at Junior Olympic National Tournaments. She starred in both volleyball and basketball at Central Catholic High School in Bloomington.
Fuente was an instant starter and a huge success as an Illinois State freshman. The Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Year helped the Redbirds earn their 11th NCAA Tournament bid in 1998.
Although a first-team all-conference choice in 1999, shoulder injuries began to develop and she had major shoulder surgery, which sidelined her during the 2000 season (Dingman's first as Illinois State head coach). A second surgery was needed the following spring and her volleyball playing career was in jeopardy.
But Fuente worked hard, erasing any doubt and returned to the court in 2001, leading her team in blocking and earning second-team all-Valley honors. Her senior season was even better, and she was a first-team All-Missouri Valley pick once again.
A regular on the AFNI Athletics Honor Roll during her undergraduate years at Illinois State, the 26-year-old Fuente earned a bachelor's degree in business in 2002. She completed her master's degree in kinesiology and recreation with an emphasis in sport management in 2004.
The former Jenny Kabbes was married to Illinois State football offensive coordinator Justin Fuente in July, 2005. The couple resides in Normal.