NCAA volleyball: Crouch leaves USC for Auburn, more hirings, men’s update

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Brent Crouch-USC vrolleyball-NCAA volleyball 1/15/2020
Brent Crouch applauds his USC team this past season/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

In a move that certainly surprised the NCAA women’s volleyball world, Brent Crouch has left USC after just two seasons to become the head coach at Auburn.

Utah State hired a women’s coach and another former USC coach also is back in the coaching ranks, this time returning to the men’s game.

And since our last roundup, Nebraska made a big move, re-hiring Tyler Hildebrand. The former Nebraska assistant, who left after one season — albeit a national-championship one — will return in August as associate head coach.

The first AVCA Poll of the men’s season is out, conferences have named their players of the week, and there are also three NCAA men’s volleyball matches on the Wednesday schedule and three to catch up on from Tuesday.

Crouch goes to Auburn: He took USC to the second round of the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons, but is leaving the Pac-12 for a program that finished 7-22 in 2019, 1-17 in the Southeastern Conference.

Crouch, then at Portland, was the West Coast Conference coach of the year in 2016. He went 40-25 at USC, 24-16 in the Pac-12. USC tied for second in the league in 2018 and last season finished sixth at 11-9.

If nothing else, he’s optimistic about a program that lost its first 17 SEC matches this past season, was 12-16, 5-13 in 2018. The only time the Tigers went to the NCAA Tournament was in 2010. Rick Nold was the coach there the past nine seasons.

“Volleyball in the SEC is on the rise, and it is only a matter of time before it leads the country,” Crouch said in an Auburn news release. “I want to be at the forefront of that growth. 

“Auburn volleyball is ready to take off, and I’m excited to partner with the department to ensure this happens.  Once I knew I was aligned with the core values, mission and the specific vision of volleyball at Auburn outlined by (athletic director) Allen Greene, it was a simple decision to come on board.

“The Auburn family is going to see a volleyball program playing a fast, aggressive style of volleyball and to continue to develop young student athletes at the highest level on and off the court.  I expect us to be earning a bid to the NCAA tournament very soon, and I know our athletes are up for that challenge.”

Crouch leaving was only part of the news at USC on Tuesday.

That’s because USC fired three senior athletic department officials, more fallout from the cash-for-admissions scandal that already resulted in major firings at the school. Gone are CFO and COO Steve Lopes, senior associate AD Ron Orr, and associate AD Scott Jacobson.

Rob Neilson

Neilson to Utah State: Rob Neilson, an assistant coach for the past three years with the USA men’s national team, will take over after the Tokyo Olympics. Neilson, a setter at BYU — from where he has a degree in neuroscience and a MBA — when BYU won the 2004 NCAA title, was later a men’s assistant at his alma mater. Utah State reported that he will hire a staff right away and begin working in his new job while keeping his USA duties.

What’s left? Openings remain at two Big Ten schools, Rutgers and Ohio State, although we hear that Ohio State finally has a coach and will announce her hiring soon.

There are still Division I openings at Bucknell, Fairleigh Dickinson, Gardner Webb, Jacksonville, Missouri State, NC State, Portland, Rhode Island, San Diego State, San Jose State, and Seattle.

Tyler Hildebrand-Nebraska volleyball-NCAA volleyball 1/15/2020
Tyler Hildebrand congratulates Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb on a win/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Hildebrand to return to Nebraska: Hildebrand left the Long Beach State’s men’s program to join Nebraska and then the Huskers won the 2017 NCAA title. Then he left to become the director of coaching for the USA Volleyball national beach-team program.

According to the Nebraska news release, before Hildebrand returns to Lincoln after the Olympics, former Nebraska setter Kelly Hunter will serve as an interim assistant coach and join Jaylen Reyes to coach the beach team. When Hildebrand gets back, Hunter will then become a volunteer indoors assistant.

The biggest question could be once Hildebrand and Reyes are on staff together, who will get to stalk the sidelines? In 2017 it was Hildebrand, often quite demonstrably, and the past two seasons it was the spritely Reyes. 

Hildebrand will fill the spot opened when Kayla Banwarth became the head coach at Ole Miss. Click here to read our feature about Hildebrand from the 2017 NCAA Championship.

Ferguson to start Piedmont men’s program: The small school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will field its fledgling men’s team in 2021 and it gets a coach who took USC to the 2012 NCAA title match. 

Bill Ferguson, who had been the women’s coach for three seasons from 2016-2018 at Wake Forest, also in Winston-Salem, was the AVCA men’s national coach of the year in 2009 and 2012.

He was the head coach for 10 seasons at USC and before moving to the women’s side had an extensive boys club volleyball resume. Ferguson is also awaiting trial in the college admissions scandal. He was put on administrative leave at Wake Forest in March 2019 and ultimately resigned that post last summer.

Ferguson’s wife, Brenn, is the women’s coach at Piedmont. Click here for the Piedmont news release.

AVCA Division I-II Poll: The first top 15 of the season looks a bit different than the preseason poll that was announced in early December, although Hawai’i remains No. 1 and got 15 of the 16 first-place votes.

BYU moved up a spot to second, while No. 3 UCLA dropped a notch but got one first-place vote. UC Santa Barbara is No. 4, while Lewis and Long Beach State are tied for fifth.

Click here for the complete AVCA Poll.

Kyle McCauley-UCSD volleyball-NCAA volleyball 1/15/2020
UCSD’s Kyle McCauley earns both the AVCA and Big West Player of the Week award/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

POWs: Kyle McCauley of UC San Diego, a transfer from Orange Coast College, is both the Big West and AVCA national player of the week … 

The MPSF players of the week are BYU’s Davide Gardini on offense and Concordia’s Addison Enriques on defense …

In the MIVA, Purdue Fort Wayne’s Jon Diedrich is the offensive POW and Ryan Coenen of Lewis is the defensive honoree … 

The EIVA tabbed Michael Fisher of Saint Francis on offense and Luca Berger of NJIT on defense … 

In Conference Carolinas, the POW is Tobi Azeez of Mount Olive.

Wednesday men: There are three matches on tap as Pepperdine of the MPSF plays the EIVA’s Harvard in Amherst, New York; UC San Diego of the Big West plays host to Vassar, a small school from Poughkeepsie, New York; and CSUN of the Big West is home for the MIVA’s Purdue Fort Wayne.

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

Tuesday recaps: Pepperdine improved to 2-0 as it went to first-year program Daemen (0-2) and came away with a 25-19, 25-20, 25-15 victory. Noah Dyer had 12 kills for Pepperdine and hit .550. He had five digs, an assist, and three blocks, one solo. The Waves hit .383 and had seven aces — three by Ben Weinberg — and 11 errors. 

Daemen, which opened its season with a home loss to UCLA, hit .153, had four aces and 18 errors. Zach Yerington led with 10 kills and hit .353 to go with three digs and two blocks ….

Lincoln Memorial (3-1) swept Tusculum (1-3) as the Railsplitters hit .415. Pedro Carvalho had eight kills with no errors in 11 attacks to hit .727 and he had an assist, an ace and four blocks, two solo. Tusculum hit minus .015 … And Wittenburg opened its season with a five-set win over Urbana (0-6) as Tyler Jackson had 14 kills, three digs and three blocks, two solo. Jack Brinkman led Urbana with 18 kills, two aces, a block and nine digs.

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