NCAA update: Cal hires Crosson, more coaching moves, final AVCA poll

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Stanford-Meghan McClure-NCAA update 12/21/2018
Stanford's Meghan McClure (center) celebrates after her back-row attack gave the Cardinal the 2018 NCAA title/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

The NCAA Division I women’s volleyball season ended last Saturday night with Stanford’s championship victory over Nebraska.

But that doesn’t mean our sport hasn’t been busy.

After a few days to regroup, here’s a recap on the last few days that saw, among other things, Cal make big news by hiring Cal Poly coach Sam Crosson.

That was just one of handful of coaching transactions, including one other in the power-five conferences as Alabama hired ETSU’s Lindsey Devine.

The AVCA also announced its final poll and, not surprisingly, the final-four teams went 1-2-3-4.

Coaching carousel: There were a few surprises, including Cal hiring Crosson, and a couple of firings.

Jennifer Dorr, who filled in as the head coach this past season when the Bears finished 15-16 overall and 10th in the Pac-12 at 7-13, will stay on as associate head coach. She was formerly an assistant to Rich Feller, who retired, and then to his replacement, Matt McShane, who was forced out before the end of the 2017 season.

Crosson, an assistant to Feller in 2010 and 2011, had a tremendous run at Cal Poly, where the Mustangs were ranked as high as No. 11 this past season. The Mustangs finished 25-3 after winning the Big West title at 15-1. But in their first NCAA Tournament match they were without star player Torrey Van Winden, who sustained a concussion in practice. Subsequently, Cal Poly lost in four to San Diego.

Crosson was a two-time Big West coach of the year during his seven-year tenure at Cal Poly. Crosson, whose team also won the Big West in 2017, which coincided with Van Winden transferring from UCLA, played at Pacific, and was an assistant there and at Santa Clara and Saint Mary’s …

Devine went to Alabama after 16 years at East Tennessee State, leaving as that school’s all-time winningest coach. She replaces Ed Allen, who resigned before the end of the season in which the Crimson Tide finished 20-12 overall, 7-11 in the SEC. Allen has since taken the job as the head coach at Southern Illinois. ETSU finished 28-7 this season and won the Southern Conference at 15-1. The Bucs lost in the SoCon tourney final and got an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, where they were swept by Purdue …

UTEP hired NM State assistant coach Ben Wallis. UTEP fired coach Holly Watts after six seasons, including 5-21 this season, 2-12 in Conference USA. Wallis was an assistant to Mike Jordan the past six seasons and was elevated to associate head coach in 2016. NM State finished 24-8 this season, 12-4 in the Western Athletic Conference, won the league tournament and then lost in four to Oregon in the first round of the NCAA Tournament …

Among the exits, New Mexico will not renew Jeff Nelson’s contract after 12 years. The Lobos were 15-15 this season, 9-9 in the Mountain West. Assistant Pauline Manser is filling in until a new head coach is hired … 

Ken Nichols resigned as the coach of Northeastern after 19 years at the Boston school. The Huskies finished 16-14 this season, 9-7 in the Colonial Athletic Association … 

Albany announced that 11th-year coach MJ Engstrom will not return. Her team finished 16-10 this season, 10-3 in the America East, where Albany finished second to Stony Brook and then lost to the Seawolves in the AE tourney final. Assistant Josh Pickard will fill in until a hire is made. … 

A big thanks to the contributors at Volley Talk for helping us keep up with coaching transactions.

UMass Lowell drops volleyball: This was stunning news, leaving the America East with just six volleyball teams.

From the school’s news release: 

“As part of a broader strategic effort to strengthen and reinvest in athletic programs and following a recommendation from a cross-campus university committee charged with a review, UMass Lowell is ending its volleyball program.

“All student scholarships will continue to be honored and the athletic department has established a transition committee to ensure that players have access to all the university and NCAA resources they need to make decisions about future plans.”

The school said there are 11 players, two full-time and one part-time coach. That included fifth-year head coach Resa Provanzano, whose team finished 5-21 this season, 3-9 in the AE. UMass Lowell was 5-43 in the league the past four seasons.

Final AVCA poll: Stanford was No. 1, followed by Nebraska, which it beat in the national-championship match, and Illinois and BYU, which both lost in the semifinals.

Texas was fifth, followed by Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon and Kentucky. Oregon moved up five spots from the previous poll.

Also making a big jump was Michigan, going from 18th to No. 12. 

Click here for the complete AVCA Division I Coaches Poll.

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