What a group of volleyball players. Now — and how great for our sport — what a group of college coaches. And what a great Zoom interview we had with all four of them.

They all played at the highest levels — Jordan Larson still does — and they gathered to talk about getting into college coaching and to tell some stories.

Kayla Banwarth, the product of Dubuque, Iowa, who was a walk-on at Nebraska and starting libero for the USA when it won bronze in the 2016 Rio Olympics, is the head coach at Ole Miss. Ole Miss had a remarkable turnaround in 2021 and made the NCAA Tournament.

Nicole Fawcett, from Zanesfield, Ohio, starred at Penn State, where she was the Volleyball magazine national player of the year in 2008. Her pro career took her to teams in Puerto Rico, South Korea, Turkey, Brazil, China, Russia and Italy She was a volunteer coach at Ohio State last fall and since has been hired as a full-time assistant.

Tayyiba Haneef-Park, who is from Laguna Hills, California, and was a star at Long Beach State, was a three-time Olympian (2004, silver in 2008, silver in 2012). Haneef-Park has coached volleyball on many high levels, including beach, but the past four years was the director of administration for the UC Irvine women’s basketball program. She is now a new assistant coach at Oregon.

And Jordan Larson, the product of Hooper, Nebraska, the leader and MVP of last summer’s USA team that captured Olympics gold for the first time, is now an assistant coach at Texas. Larson, whose pro career includes playing in Russia and China, surprised everyone by becoming a college coach and then surprised us again by signing a pro contract in Italy, where she heads next week through the end of the season. Then she’ll be back at Texas.

Larson and Haneef-Park were Olympic teammates in 2012 and Larson and Banwarth were Olympic teammates in 2016. But Larson and Fawcett, both 35, have been playing against each and together since they were kids and were fierce rivals in college.

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