2003 Tachikara/AVCA Region Coaches of the Year
2003 Tachikara/AVCA Division I Region Coach of the Year
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The following coaches have been selected by their region as Tachikara/AVCA Division I Region Coach of the Year. Each of the honorees will represent their region on the National Coach of the Year ballot. The awards will be officially presented at the Tachikara/AVCA Coach of the Year banquet in Dallas on Thursday, Dec. 18, at the 2003 American Volleyball Coaches Association Annual Convention. Among the nine selections are five coaches who have led their teams to the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals.
Central Region Coach of the Year
Suzie Fritz, Kansas State University
2003 Record: 30-4 (18-2 Big 12)
Fritz led the Wildcats to several firsts in 2003 including their first-ever Big 12 crown with a 18-2 mark in league play. Kansas State, which was ranked an all-time school-best fifth (now sixth) in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll for four straight weeks, compiled school records of 30 victories in NCAA action, most league wins and longest win streak (16 matches). The Wildcats, seeded sixth in the NCAA Tournament, have advanced to the NCAA Region Semifinal Round for just the second time in school history. Kansas State holds a 5-2 record against teams current nationally ranked teams. Fritz has compiled a 71-21 overall record and became the fastest coach in K-State history to reach 65 wins (in 85 matches).
East Region Coach of the Year
Janice Kruger, University of Maryland
2003 Record: 27-8 (12-4 Atlantic Coast Conference)
Despite being picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason poll, Kruger led Maryland to a 27-8 overall record and 12-4 mark in league play. The Terps captured the ACC Tournament title to earn the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Maryland is 2-2 versus top 25 teams this season, including a 2-1 mark against ACC rival Georgia Tech. The Terps are currently ranked 24th in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll after advancing to the NCAA Tournament Second Round. Kruger registered her 300th victory at Maryland during the ACC Tournament (now 303-197) to bring her career record to 678-302-6 as a head coach. She has earned the AVCA Region Coach of the Year four times as well as the 2003 ACC Coach of the Year.
Mideast Region Coach of the Year
Geoff Carlston, Ohio University
2003 Record: 28-5 (15-1 Mid-American Conference)
Carlston, in his first season as a Division I head coach, led Ohio to a 28-5 overall record and 15-1 mark in the Mid-American Conference. The Bobcats won the MAC East Division, regular season title and the MAC tournament to gain an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. Carlston was named the MAC Coach of the Year for leading the Bobcats to a school record 28 victories. The Bobcats picked up three more wins in 2003 than in 2002 and three fewer conference losses in the same time frame. Ohio won a school-record 21 matches at one point this season for the second-best in conference history. Carlston holds a 77-47 overall record as a college coach including three seasons at Division II Concordia-St. Paul.
Midwest Region Coach of the Year
Debbie Kirch, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
2003 Record: 23-11 (10-4 Horizon)
Kirch, with six starters returning from 2002, coached Wisconsin-Green Bay to a 23-11 record and its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I Tournament. The Phoenix earned the Horizon League's automatic berth with the conference tournament title Nov. 23. UW-Green Bay posted their first winning season in 16 years and the 23 victories ranks second in school history only to the 1987 season's 34-22 mark. The Phoenix, with two six-match winning streaks in 2003, tied their best Horizon League regular-season finish with a third-place ranking with a 10-4 record. UW-Green Bay played just seven home matches this season but weathered the road to break the string of losing seasons. The Phoenix have been honored with the AVCA Team Academic Award the past three seasons.
Northeast Region Coach of the Year
Chris Beerman, University of Pittsburgh
2003 Record: 26-6 (11-1 BIG EAST)
Beerman led the Panthers to a 26-6 record, a co-BIG EAST regular season title and the BIG EAST Tournament championship for the first time since 1994. He was named co-BIG EAST Coach of the Year after his Panthers were picked to finish third in the league's preseason poll. Pittsburgh, which won its most matches in a season since the 1991 campaign, advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round before falling to Penn State. The Panthers, which defeated Notre Dame twice in 2003, have received votes in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll since Nov. 17. Pittsburgh won five of nine matches against schools that qualified for the 2003 NCAA Tournament. Beerman has coached to the Panthers to three 20-win seasons during his four years at Pittsburgh.
Pacific Region Co-Coach of the Year
Rich Feller, University of California
2003 Record: 25-6 (12-6 Pacific 10 Conference)
Feller has guided California to its first-ever NCAA Tournament "Sweet 16" berth with a 25-6 record. The Bears finished with a 23-6 regular-season record, the best regular-season winning percentage (.793) in school history. California also captured a school-record 12 Pac-10 matches and posted back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1981-83. This fall has been record-breaking for Cal - winning 16 consecutive matches to start the season, defeating Stanford for the first time since 1982, earning its highest national ranking ever (No. 5 on Oct. 13), and now advancing further in postseason than any other team in school history. California is 6-6 against current nationally ranked teams. Feller also earned AVCA Region Coach of the Year in 1987 while at Colorado State.
Nina Matthies, Pepperdine University
2003 Record: 27-2 (14-0 West Coast Conference)
Matthies has led Pepperdine into the NCAA Regional Semifinals with a school-record 27 wins (27-2) and a perfect 14-0 record in the West Coast Conference for the third straight year. The Waves are ranked an all-time best fourth in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll. Pepperdine has won 25 straight matches, which smashes the previous school record of 17 consecutive victories. The Waves have won eight of 10 matches versus current nationally ranked teams in 2003. Matthies, who has earned the Tachikara/AVCA Region Coach of the Year three times (1999, 2002, 2003), was tabbed WCC Coach of the Year for the third straight season and fifth time in six years. Matthies holds a 411-235 record in 20 seasons with the Waves, including 14 NCAA Tournament appearances.
South Region Coach of the Year
Mary Wise, University of Florida
2003 Record: 33-1 (16-0 Southeastern Conference)
Wise has led Florida to a 33-1 record and a spot in the NCAA Region Semifinals. The Gators have won 33 straight matches after dropping their season opener to top-ranked USC. Florida has not lost a single game since the third game versus Kansas State on Aug. 23, which set an NCAA record in the process with 97 straight game victories. Florida, ranked third in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll all season, won the SEC Tournament title for the sixth straight year and 11th time overall. Wise earned the AVCA South Region Coach of the Year for the 11th time in 13 seasons (1991-92, 1994-2000, 2002-2003). She holds a 428-42 record in 13 seasons at Florida and won her 500th-career match earlier this season (509-105 in 17 seasons).
West Region Coach of the Year
Dave Shoji, University of Hawai'i
2002 Record: 34-1 (13-0 Western Athletic Conference)
Shoji has propelled Hawai'i into the NCAA Region Semifinals for the sixth consecutive season with a 34-1 record, the school's 15th 30-win season. Hawai'i has matched last season's win total (34) with six returning starters and three AVCA All-Americans on the roster. The Rainbow Wahine have won 33 straight matches with their only blemish being a loss to USC in the second match of the season. Hawai'i has won eight of nine matches against teams currently ranked in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll. Shoji was named AVCA All-Region Coach of the Year for the sixth time (1987, 1988, 1989, 1995, 1998, 2003). His overall record is 838-148 in 29 seasons. Shoji was honored with the 2002 USA Volleyball All-Time Great Coach Award.