Savvy seniors, fab freshmen lead Kentucky back to NCAA final 16
December 6, 2023
December 24, 2022
Athletic directors are finally filling the abundance of NCAA Division I volleyball coaching openings.
Since our last coaching-carousel report earlier this week, when UCLA hired San Diego assistant Alfee Reft, two more Power 5 jobs went to assistants.
One is a new job and one that has tremendous and exciting possibilties. Vanderbilt, the only SEC school without volleyball, is re-starting the program in 2025 and the school tabbed Kentucky assistant Anders Nelson to build from scratch.
Oregon State hired Pittsburgh’s Lindsey Behonick, meaning that half the teams in the NCAA final four lost their top assistants.
Not all the jobs went to assistants.
Oklahoma hired Loyola Marymount coach Aaron Mansfield.
There was also a new opening since our last report. Michigan on Tuesday announced it fired Mark Rosen after 24 years. That is one of two changes in the Big Ten after three last season.Â
In the Pac-12, Washington remains open after Keegan Cook left for Minnesota and Arizona State has yet to hire.
In the Big 12, Kansas State remains open.
The SEC is all set. In the last coaching-carousel report we had that Texas A&M hired Jamie Morrison and Missouri tabbed Dawn Sullivan.
For the first time in a while, there are no head-coaching changes in the ACC.
Among the jobs open in Division I are Fresno State, Montana State, Nicholls State, Oral Roberts, Saint Louis, Southern Indiana, Texas A&M-Commerce, UIW, Louisiana-Monroe, UNLV and UNC Asheville.
There have also been some significant transfers that are sure to impact the 2023 season. And the 2022 season ended just a week ago.
VANDERBILT: Vandy, which discontinued volleyball after the 1979-80 academic year, is bringing it back. Anders Nelson, who has been at Kentucky for 11 seasons, the past seven as associate head coach, gets to build the program from scratch at the only private school in the SEC. Nelson, 35, played at Ball State. He is yet another coaching product of Munciana to become an NCAA head coach, including Wisconsin’s Kelly Sheffield, Purdue’s Dave Shondell and his former boss, Kentucky’s Craig Skinner. Kentucky won the 2020/spring 2021 NCAA volleyball title.Â
Vanderbilt has won national championships in baseball, women’s tennis and bowling.
OREGON STATE: The Beavers announced on Friday that Lindsey Behonick, Dan Fisher’s assistant for 10 years at Pittsburgh and at Concordia before that, takes over a program that finished 7-23 this season, 2-18.
Behonick played for Concordia and was an NAIA All-American. She and Fisher coached her alma mater to the 2012 NAIA national title before they left for Pitt.
She has her work cut out for her: Oregon State hasn’t had a winning season since 2017 and has won a total of 14 Pac-12 matches since.
OKLAHOMA: The Big 12 school announced Thursday it hired Loyola Marymount head coach Aaron Mansfield. In six seasons at LMU he had a record of 94-68, including 18-10 this year, 13-5 in the West Coast Conference. The Lions lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Oregon.
Mansfield replaced Tom Black after the 2016 season when Black left for Georgia of the SEC. Oklahoma, along with Texas, is scheduled to join the SEC in 2025.
Mansfield previously was an assistant coach at Santa Clara. He was a standout player at UC Santa Barbara, played pro beach volleyball, and has extensive beach coaching experience.
He takes over a team that finished 15-13 last season, 5-11 in the Big 12.Â
MICHIGAN: Veteran coach Mark Rosen took a leave of absence in midseason and never returned to the Big Ten school. His wife, Leisa, was head coach in his absence. Michigan announced Tuesday he would not be back after compiling a record of 468-299. This season the Wolverines finished 17-13, 8-12 in the B1G. Michigan failed to make the NCAA Tournament in 2020 and lost in the first round in 2021.
Rosen, who coached at Cal State Bakersfield, Northern Michigan and Boise State before taking over at Michigan in 1999, took the Wolverines to the 2012 NCAA national semifinals.Â
TULSA: Kansas State assistant coach Lauren Ramatowski was announced on Monday as the new coach of the Golden Hurricane. She has previous coaching experience as as an assistant at Truman State, UTRGV, Houston Baptist, Washburn and Arkansas.Â
Tulsa finishd 13-18 this season, 6-13 in the Anmerican Athletic Conference.
USC UPSTATE: The school hired Wofford assistant Ali Skayhan. Skayhan, a standout at Florida Southern, played professionally and has been an assistant at San Francisco before spending the past three seasons at Wofford, which is also in South Carolina.
USC Upstate finished 6-23 this season, 3-13 in the Big South. The program has never had a winning overall season, although it finished 10-6 in the Big South in 2021.
VCU: Tim Doyle is returning to VCU. The former assistant at the school was the head coach at William & Mary the past five seasons. He was an assistant at VCU from 2014-17.Â
William & Mary went 12-14 this season, 6-10 in the CAA. In his five years at the school, Doyle had a record of 32-75, which included a time in 2020 when the school planned to end the sport but did not so it would comply with Title IX.
VCU finished 14-17 this season, 9-9 in the Atlantic 10, under interim head coach Kevin Maureen Campbell.Â
UNC GREENSBORO: The school announced on Wednesday that Felicia Turner will take over after spending the last six seasons as an assistant at Georgia. Turner played at Loyola Marymount under Tom Black and was hired by him at Georgia. She also coached for him at LMU. Georgia made the NCAA Tournament this year for the first time since 2013.
UNCG finished 10-20 this season, 4-12 in the Southern Conference. The Spartans haven’t have a winning season since 2019.
It’s no secret that an incredible number of NCAA Division I players have flocked to the transfer portal. As of Saturday morning, there were 669 in the portal. There are also 316 Division II and 90 Division III all looking for new schools.
Earlier this week, we interviewed Ohio State coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg and her All-American setter, Mac Podraza, about the unique situation with the Buckeyes. Podraza and fellow All-American libero Kylie Murr and three other fourth-year seniors are all leaving their school.
On Friday, Nebraska announced that Merritt Beason, a VolleyballMag.com honorable-mention All-American at Florida, is now a Husker. The 6-foot-3 sophomore right side was second in kills for Florida this season with 335 and led in kills per set at .335. She was also second in blocks with 124.
Another move that could be significant is Jenna Wenaas leaving Minnesota for Texas. Wenaas, a 6-1 junior outside from Frisco, Texas, was second in kills for Minnesota this season with 264 and she had 62 blocks.
Her Minnesota teammate, 6-7 freshman Carter Booth, is also in the portal. Among some of the others are Wisconsin’s Jade Demps, Michigan’s Jess Mruzik, May Pertofsky and Jess Robinson, and Melanie Parra of Texas.