Competitive, hard-working and dedicated all describe veteran head coach Beth Launiere as she has built the University of Utah volleyball team from the ground up, making it one of the premiere programs in the conference and in the nation.
Launiere (365-206, .639) took over in 1990, looking to straighten out a team that won only one match in 1989. In her 18 years, she has sculpted the Utes into a top-25 power and earned her 300th win with the program in 2005.
Nine times have the Utes qualified for the NCAA Tournament, winning five Mountain West Conference titles. She has recorded 12, 20-win seasons. For her efforts, Launiere has earned AVCA West Region (2001, 06) and MWC (2004, 06) Coach of the Year honors twice.
Her ability to attract top-notch talent has helped take Utah to the forefront of the national scene. She has guided three Utes to All-America honors while eight have garnered all-region accolades. The 2005 freshman class was ranked the eighth-best in the nation by Volleyball Magazine. Many of her players have represented Utah internationally in various US Olympic development programs.
Launiere's impact on the sport goes well beyond the court. Since 2004 she has guided volleyball on the national stage as a member of the AVCA Board of Directors. Launiere is currently serving as President-Elect of the AVCA. She recently finished a three-year term as the Division I Coaches Volleyball Representative and prior to that served on the AVCA's All-America committee for five years.
On the court, Utah volleyball reached new heights in 2006. It set the school record for wins in a season (28), set the school and conference record for league wins (16) and became only the second MWC school ever to go undefeated in conference play. The team won a school-record 25 straight during the season and was ranked as high as ninth in the AVCA poll. Led by Emillie Toone, who finished second in the country in blocking, Utah led the nation in blocks (3.71). Launiere was voted both the MWC and West Region Coach of the Year for the second time in her career.
Since the beginning of the MWC in 1999, Utah has won three tournament championships (2001, 02', 05) and two regular season titles (2004, 06').
Utah has also been successful on a national level. In nine NCAA Tournament appearances, the Utes have reached the second-round seven times, with a regional semifinal appearance in 2001. That year, Utah fell to eventual national champion Stanford, 3-1. Utah was the only team to win a game against the Cardinal during the tournament.
Launiere led Utah to its first national ranking in 2000 after defeating No. 1 Stanford, 3-2, on Sept. 5, 2000. The next week, the Utes appeared in the Sept. 18th AVCA Top 25 poll, coming in at No. 18. Utah earned its highest ranking in school history on Sept. 2, 2002, when it was ranked eighth.
Launiere arrived at Utah in 1990 and took over a team that had compiled a 1-32 record the previous year. Inspiring a turnaround in the program, she recorded Utah's first winning season in seven years (18-15) by her third year in 1992. Utah earned its first postseason berth in 1993, placing third in the NIVC. The Utes as a team and senior Mikki Kane-Barton led the nation in blocks that year, a first for any Western Athletic Conference team.
In addition to three AVCA All-Americans (Airial Salvo, Kim Turner and Whitney Webb), 15 of Launiere's players have earned first team all-conference accolades, while eight have been named all-region. Turner (2002-03) and Salvo (2006) were each named MWC Player of the Year. Launiere's recruits have also rewritten the record book, holding career records in kills, attempts, assists, aces, digs, total blocks and hitting efficiency. Several players have gone on to compete in the USA Volleyball system, including Turner, Salvo, Toone, Lori Baird, Sydney Anderson, Lyndsey Henderson and Kelsie Kartchner. Danielle Leichliter trained overseas with Vanajan RC.
Prior to coming to Utah, the Grand Rapids, Mich., native was as an assistant coach at Illinois (1988-89). It went 57-12 during Launiere's stay and made it to two NCAA Tournaments, including a 1988 Final Four showing.
An assistant at Ferris State (Mich.) from 1985-87, Launiere helped the Bulldogs win three postseason bids and to a showing in the 1987 NCAA Division II Final Four.
Launiere graduated in 1985 from Aquinas College (Mich.). She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration and economics and has a master's in sports administration from Illinois.
Bio courtesy of the University of Utah Athletics' Web site
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