Danny White has struck again. After a hot start to the season gave way to a disappointing showing in the conference schedule, Head Volleyball Coach Todd Kress will not be manning the sidelines for the Bulls anymore. The team limped to an 18-12 record on the year after a 12-0 start in which they dropped only three sets over nearly a full month. In conference play the team was 6-10, good for third in the East Division.
(For record's sake, Ohio was the top team in the conference, but the locus of power this year was in the West Division.)
Despite the disappointing second half of the season, 2013 was unquestionably Buffalo's best in some time. UB's T-7 result in the conference was its highest finish ever and (depressing alert!) the six conference wins were the most ever in MAC play. 18 wins tied the program's high-water mark since joining the MAC in 1998, as well.
Additionally, the team featured two All-MAC performers in Sophomore Tahleia Bishop and Senior Kelly Svoboda, who broke several UB records and was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Unfortunately for Coach Kress, the hot start apparently carried little weight with White, especially given how hard the team fell. While Svoboda anchored the defense year-round, the attack was noticeably less potent in MAC play than it was during the OOC slate, with multiple matches where the team had a hitting percentage of under 20%.
Volleyball will be the
tenth (thanks, rma116!) ninth team to see coaching turnover since the transition from Warde Manuel to Danny White. Not all of this turnover is because the incumbent was fired, but there's tons of new blood nonetheless.
And it may not be a bad thing. Tim made a great point when I last wrote of coaching turnover in the nonrevenue programs:
It's low hanging fruit like this that can help the dept generate a culture of winning.
Now is not the time to discuss the merits of other coaches and their programs, but the point stands. You don't build a culture of winning only through the sports that get the most eyeballs. You do it top to bottom.
From the UB Press Release:
"While I appreciate the level that Coach Kress and his staff have taken this volleyball program to, our goal remains winning Mid-American Conference Championships and with that in mind we have decided to go in another direction," said White. "This move will provide us with a fresh prospective while building on the strengths already developed here."
You can read this as: "Our remains winning Mid-American Conference Championships - and we weren't really that close this year, so - ..."
I hope this was a tough call for White. On one hand, a hot start gave way to a disappointing finish, an all-time great player is graduating so next year's team will be looking for an identity, and 6-10 in conference shouldn't be acceptable if we want a culture of winning. On the other, everything I said up above about the successes of this team relative to year's past. Clearly White believes he can keep the upward momentum going with someone else at the helm.
Coach Kress was 73-81 in five years as UB Head Coach. UB plans to begin a national search immediately.