NCAA volleyball: Ohio State, Rutgers, Rhode Island hire coaches

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NCAA mens volleyball, 1/17/2020-Ohio State volleyball
Ohio State defeated Lincoln Memorial in four sets Thursday/Jay LaPrete, OSU photo

Both Big Ten women’s volleyball coaching vacancies have now officially been filled. Ohio State announced Friday that Jen Flynn Oldenburg will be the sixth coach of the Ohio State program, and Rutgers announced Thursday that Caitlin Schweihofer will take the reins at Rutgers heading into the 2020 season.

Rhode Island also released its new head coach selection, and Thursday featured four NCAA men’s matches. For Friday, there are 18 men’s matches on deck.

NCAA men 1/172020-Jen Flynn Oldenburg

Ohio State picks a former Buckeye: Jen Flynn Oldenburg will take the helm at her alma mater, returning to Columbus after spending the last six years as the associate director of the Pittsburgh Elite Volleyball Association in her hometown. 

Oldenburg, who recorded 3,213 assists in her four seasons as a setter and outside hitter for Ohio State (good for seventh in program history), is not unfamiliar with collegiate coaching, however. In 2001, the year after she graduated, she served as a volunteer assistant for OSU.

She then spent time in the USA national team gym and set at the 2002 World Championships, helping the team win a silver medal, before returning to coaching as an assistant at Illinois, where she remained a member of the staff until 2012.

“She’s the best,” said Stanford coach Kevin Hambly, who had Oldenburg as an assistant when he was at Illinois. “I am so happy that she’s back in collegiate volleyball. She will do a great job at OSU.

“She will operate with integrity, the athletes will have a great experience, and she will be a consummate professional. The young women she works with will become better volleyball players but more importantly they will develop as people.”

While at Illinois, Oldenburg was a part of three Sweet 16 teams and the Illini team that made it all the way to the national championship match in 2011.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jen back to Ohio State,” Janine Oman, deputy director of athletics for Ohio State, said. “Her energy, diverse coaching experiences and passion for Ohio State and our women’s volleyball program were the determining factors in her selection. We are excited for the future of the women’s volleyball program under Jen’s leadership.”

Caitlin Schweihofer-Rutgers volleyball-NCAA men 011720
Caitlin Schweihofer

Rutgers makes a hire: Caitlin Schweihofer was most recently the head coach at Northeastern, but she spent just one season with the Huskies in Boston, prior to that serving at head coach at LaSalle from 2014 to 2018. She earned the Atlantic 10 coach of the year title in her final season at LaSalle — that year, the Explorers went 18-12, the most wins for the team in 20 years, and made the A10 tournament for the first time.

Schweihofer’s ability to build success at a struggling program is exactly why Rutgers hired her. She joins a Rutgers team that has gone 3-117 in conference play since joining the Big Ten in 2014 and finished the 2019 season with an overall record of 8-23.

“Caitlin has elevated programs and orchestrated turnarounds at each stop throughout her career, and as much as her teams have succeeded on the court, she has always placed a high priority on academics and overall student-athlete development,” Rutgers director of athletics Pat Hobbs said.

Schweihofer played at St. John’s, leading the Red Flash to a Big East title as a senior in 2006. She was the 2006 Big East female scholar athlete of the year and graduated in three years with a degree in communication science and a GPA of 3.9. She also has her master’s in educational leadership and higher education administration from Lehigh, where she spent the 2013 season as the top assistant. The season before that, she served as an assistant at Bucknell.

NCAA men 011720-Nicki Holmes-Rhode Island volleyball
Nicki Holmes

Holmes takes over at Rhode Island: Formerly the head coach at George Washington, Nicki Holmes made an intraconference move to accept the Rhode Island job. Holmes spent three seasons at George Washington, before that serving one year as an assistant at NC State. His coaching resume also includes stints as the head coach at North Carolina Central and assistant coaching roles at University of Central Florida and Stetson.

Holmes is an Air Force veteran and has coached the USAF Women’s National Volleyball Team and the USAF Women’s Sitting National Team. He also has extensive experience with USA Volleyball, serving as program manager for the collegiate national team and an assistant coach with the youth national team.

A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Holmes spent six years working in the engineering and manufacturing field before pursuing collegiate coaching. He also has his MBA from Vanderbilt.

“I have great respect for Nicki as a veteran, as a coach and as a businessman,” URI athletic director Thorr Bjorn said. “The fact that he has successfully worn each of those hats throughout his career makes us very excited about the leadership he will bring, not only to our volleyball program, but to our university as a whole.”

Friday men: A handful of matches between ranked opponents headline Friday’s NCAA men’s schedule. No. 1 Hawai’i hits the road to play No. 5 Lewis in Romeoville, No. 4 UC Santa Barbara hosts No. 10 Purdue Fort Wayne, and No. 7 UC Irvine has No. 9 Stanford at the Bren Center. No. 8 Pepperdine continues its East Coast swing with a match at No. 13 George Mason, and No. 12 Loyola and No. 14 Penn State face off in Chicago.

No. 2 BYU plays its first of two back-to-back matches versus Mount Olive in North Carolina. Back on the West Coast, No. 3 UCLA takes an unblemished record on the road to La Jolla where it will face UC San Diego, and USC goes to No. 5 Long Beach State. No. 15 Ohio State concludes its season-opening home stand by hosting King.

The MIVA’s Grand Canyon takes on Park (AZ), while Ball State has CSUN. EIVA/MIVA battles are scheduled between Saint Francis and Lindenwood and NJIT and McKendree. Finally, Limestone versus Alderson Broaddus, Erskine versus Charleston (WV), Tusculum versus North Greenville, Lees-McRae versus Queens, and Missouri Baptist versus Quincy round out the Friday night action.

To watch any match that is being shown, go to the VolleyballMag.com TV listings page for direct links to the broadcasts.

NCAA men 1/17/2020-USC mens volleyball
Sam Lewis plays it over during a USC scramble play/Katie Chin, USC athletics

Thursday recaps: In the first MPSF match of the young season, Concordia (3-2) swept USC (1-3). The 25-19, 25-21, 26-24 decision marks USC’s third straight-set loss in a row—it’s also Concordia’s first sweep of USC in program history, and a statement from the team voted last in the MPSF preseason coaches poll.

As a team, Concordia hit .482, with redshirt senior outside hitter Jordan Hoppe recording 12 kills on 17 errorless attempts (.706), good for the third most effective offensive performance in the Concordia record books. The team average is also the third-best in program history.

Raymond Barsemian, another redshirt senior outside, led all players with 19 kills—tying the Concordia record for kills in a three-set match—and freshman setter McLain Mott ended the match with 40 assists. Both Eagle middles, Gil Herold and Noah Lassandro, hit above .700.

“We played how we train,” Concordia head coach Shawn Patchell said. “We can play at this level consistently if we continue to train smart and hard.”

USC hit .365 as a team (clearly neither team was putting up much in terms of defensive numbers), with 11 kills each from Kyle Gear and Brandon Browning.

Ohio State (4-0) continued its undefeated start to the season, topping Lincoln Memorial (3-2) in four sets (25-15, 21-25, 25-15, 25-19).

Junior outside Martin Lallemand led the Buckeyes with 18 kills, hitting .395, while senior outside Reese Devilbiss added 16 kills and redshirt junior opposite Tyler Alter had 12. Sophomore setter Luke Lentin recorded 51 assists and two kills of his own, and sophomore libero Parker Mikesch set the match-high with 15 digs.

As a team, Ohio State out-hit LMU .344 to .181 and out-blocked the Splitters 17 to six.

“That’s the best volleyball we’ve played so far this season in those three sets (that we won),” OSU head coach Kevin Burch said.

Middle Dawson Walker and outside hitter Jacob Titus, both sophomores, each had 13 kills for Lincoln Memorial.

Queens (1-2) of the Independent Volleyball Association downed Conference Carolina’s Belmont Abbey (1-3) in four sets (28-26, 25-20, 18-25, 25-23) in a meeting between crosstown foes in Charlotte. Junior outside hitter Tristan Santoyo had his best showing of the season so far, collecting 16 kills, five digs, and four blocks. His classmate Cody Nix led Queens in an impressive serving performance, finishing the match with five aces.

Belmont Abbey got 11 kills each from William Morris and Jake Somers, but Queens held the program’s career kills leader, Liam Maxwell, to just nine kills on 28 attempts.

Harvard (3-2) bounced back after losing the first set to score a road win over Daemen (0-3) in four (21-25, 25-17, 25-23, 26-24). Freshman middle Ethan McCrary led the Crimson with 14 kills on just 15 attacks to post a ridiculous .867 hitting percentage. Outside hitter Campbell Schoenfeld received the majority of the sets from Matt Ctvrtlik, but the sophomore managed just nine kills with seven errors on 34 swings for a .059 hitting percentage. Adam Gordon finished second on the team behind McCrary with 12 kills.

On the Daemen side, a pair of Zachs led the offense, with Zach Yerington and Zach Schneider each collecting 13 kills. Schneider also matched Harvard libero Jack Connolly’s match-high 11 digs.

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