Jan. 20, 2012
BERKELEY - California assistant coach Sam Crosson has been hired as the new head coach of the Cal Poly volleyball team, Cal head coach Rich Feller announced Jan. 20. Crosson takes the helm of the Mustang program after Caroline Walters served as interim head coach for most of the 2011 season in San Luis Opisbo.
"I am extremely proud of Sam and happy for him and his family," Feller said. "This is a great opportunity for Sam to become a head coach and use his vast volleyball knowledge in a program all his own. I'm sorry to lose him. I wish we could have kept him for a few more years because he added so much to our program."
Crosson departs Berkeley after spending two years as an assistant coach with the Bears.
"I want to thank Rich Feller, the Cal athletic staff and the student-athletes for the remarkable experience I had during my two seasons at Cal," Crosson said. "There is a lot I am going to miss about what it means to be a Golden Bear. I believe that experience has prepared me for this step in my career and my family and I are looking forward to our new future with Cal Poly."
During the 2010 spring and fall seasons, Crosson was instrumental in augmenting the systems of Cal Volleyball. That change helped power the Bears to their best season in program history - winning a share of the Pac-10 Conference title and finishing the season as national runners-up - both for the first time in Berkeley. The 2011 season saw the Bears achieve the first No. 1 national ranking, a mark they held for four weeks, spending all 13 weeks ranked as one of the top-10 teams in the country. Tarah Murrey earned second-team All-American status while both Murrey and Shannon Hawari were named to the Pacific Region team.
"He really helped redefine Cal volleyball," Feller said. "He gave us great tactical help and some new systems. He was a brilliant scout and tactician. We'll certainly miss his input every day in practice as well as his demeanor off the court and on road trips. We will begin a search immediately for a top-level assistant coach to come in and replace Sam. Director of operations David Dantes has been temporarily elevated to interim assistant coach. Our program is in great shape and healthy, and we're looking forward to a great spring."
Crosson's accomplishments with the Bears in his first season came as no surprise after the success he found just miles away in Moraga with Saint Mary's, where he spent five seasons as the top assistant coach. Mandy Bible was a three-time West Coast Conference first-teamer and closed her career as the all-time Gael leader in assists, assists per game, aces and second in block assists. Crosson also oversaw the development of Kapua Kamana'o, who was a three-time All-WCC pick, as well as Missy White during her freshman and sophomore seasons.
In 2009, Crosson helped guide Saint Mary's to its second consecutive 20-win season as the Gaels posted the second-best record in program history at 23-5. Saint Mary's logged a perfect 13-0 mark at home and set new school records with an 11-match winning streak and a 13-1 record in West Coast Conference matches to net the program's first-ever WCC title. Saint Mary's made its fifth appearance in the NCAA tournament and nearly took out Pac-10 champion Stanford in the second round.
Crosson's responsibilities as the top assistant for the Gaels included serving as the recruiting coordinator, planning and executing practices, coordinating the offense during matches, providing video and statistical analysis of practice and matches, and player development, including technical training for setters and middle blockers. Crosson was responsible for bringing in some of the top recruiting classes in Saint Mary's history. From 2006-09, his classes were selected for high honorable mention by PrepVolleyball.com and included some of the top talent in the country.
While he was at Saint Mary's, the Gaels led the WCC in blocking each year and were second in the nation in blocks per set (3.82 bps) in 2005. In each of his first three seasons, a middle blocker under his tutelage was selected to the WCC All-Freshman Team (Shannon Lowell, 2007; Megan Burton, 2006; and Brittany Barker, 2005). In 2008, after the Gaels produced a 20-9 record to reach the NCAA tournament, Saint Mary's put both starting middle blockers on the all-conference team.
Prior to his time at Saint Mary's, Crosson spent the 2004 season as a volunteer assistant with the Santa Clara women's volleyball team. Before joining the coaching ranks in collegiate women's volleyball, Crosson spent five years as the top assistant coach for the men's team at University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. While at Pacific, Crosson was responsible for recruiting, player development, video and statistical analysis and assisted in academic support.
As a player at Pacific, Crosson was part of four of the most successful seasons in Tiger volleyball history. He was a four-year letterman and earned team co-MVP honors in 1997. He is ranked in the top 10 in every statistical category and holds the number two spots in career digs (689), digs in a single season (274) and service aces (86). After his collegiate career, Crosson played one season as a professional for Herentals Volleyball Club in Belgium.
Crosson received a bachelor's degree in sports sciences at Pacific in 1997 and later earned a master's degree from Pacific in sports sciences in 2005. A native of Santa Cruz, Calif., Crosson makes the move to the central coast with his wife Courtney Miller and daughters Makenna and Logan.