Head Coach | Alan Edwards
Alan Edwards has spent much of his career building volleyball programs into contenders, and on Dec. 20, 2013, he was presented with another opportunity to do just that as he was named Lamar University’s head volleyball coach.
Despite the 5-23 record in his first season, his presence was felt immediately when he helped middle blocker Cortney Moore improved her hitting percentage from .254 in both her freshman and sophomore seasons to .331 her junior season. She averaged 3.37 kills per set in 2014, well above her 2.67 average in 2013. Moore, along with sophomore middle Chelsea Grant, earned second-team All-Southland Conference honors.
In his second season, he improved the team to a 14-16 record boasting a 12-4 record at McDonald Gym, a place he strives to make as a special place to his team. He and the Cardinals won both non-conference tournament championships played on their home floor, including wins over Marist, and Tulane. He continued his legacy of churning out great middles when Grant was tabbed as first team All-Southland Conference, and in the 2016 season she’ll have the chance to go for the award from the left side.
His career record stands at 146-193 and is 19-39 at Lamar with the program showing vast improvements over what it was when he took the reins.
As has been evident throughout his career, academics also was at the forefront of the team’s agenda. Ten of the team’s 15 student-athletes were named to the 2014 Fall Southland Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Along with that, Megan Schwartz garnered her second CoSIDA Academic All-District distinction and was nominated as a Capital One Academic All-American.
Edwards came to LU from the University of Tennessee, where he spent three years as an assistant coach. During his first two seasons on campus, he helped the Lady Vols to two NCAA Tournament berths and a 50-12 record that included a 28-4 campaign and a Southeastern Conference championship in 2011. A workhorse on the recruiting trail, his final class at UT ranked No. 17 in the nation by prepvolleyball.com.
The 2011 championship was the first outright SEC championship for the program. That season saw a league-best five Lady Vols named All-SEC, including Player of the Year Kelsey Robinson. The 2012 team posted a 22-8 record and 15-5 SEC mark and had three players earn postseason honors.
Edwards aided in the development of seven All-Americans, including middle blocker DeeDee Harrison. Harrison still ranks fourth on UT’s all-time blocks list at 1.08 blocks per set. She also ranks in the top 10 of total blocks and hitting percentages lists. In 2011 and 2012 under Edwards’ tutelage, she registered the program’s second and fifth best season block totals. Her 2012 1.27 blocks per set mark in 2012 is the best the Lady Vols have ever seen. She was voted as an AVCA All-American in 2011.
Tennessee also had Leslie Cikra (2011), Robinson (2011, 12), Mary Pollmiller (2011) and Ellen Mullins (2012, 2013) claim All-American status while Edwards was on the staff. Those were Tennessee’s first All-Americans.
Prior to Tennessee, he took over an Iona program that had suffered a 20-loss season the season before, and in three seasons he had the Gaels to 19 wins. In his final season, skipper coached his team to a 20-11 overall record and 12 MAAC match wins- program record. He finished his time at IC with a 75-79 overall record and four appearances in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championships, including a loss to Niagara in the 2010 title match.
While at the helm, Edwards coached one of the best defensive players in NCAA history in Allison Neiters, who ranked fifth all-time in the NCAA with 2,682 digs at the time. She shattered the Iona and MAAC career records. She was named as the MAAC’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and 2008 and was Libero of the Year in 2009. To add to her accolades she flourished academically under Edwards talking CoSIDA Academic All-District honors, twice, and earned Iona’s Academic Merit Award.
Along with Neiters, Edwards coached three-time All-MAAC winner Sarah Wiener, who is a member of the Iona’s 1,000-kill club. She was also named as the MAAC’s Rookie of the Year in 2009.
Academically, the Gaels performed as well off the court; more than three-fourths of the student-athletes on his team were eligible for the conferences honor roll awards.
His first head coaching stint was at a struggling program in Mercer in 2000, which had a 6-48 record in the two seasons prior to his arrival. In his five seasons, Edwards put together a 52-73 record and helped the Bears to the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament for the first time since 1996. He led the program to a 7-3 A-Sun mark in 2003, school record at the time, and claimed the fourth seed in the league tournament.
Katie Plummer still holds the all-time record for kills (1390) at Mercer, all under Edwards reign. She ranks second in kills per set at 3.12. He also coached Molly Gabri, Mercer’s all-time assist leader (4007). During his time with the Bears, the kills per set record fell twice to players he coached, and both Jennifer Smith (3.70) and Plummer (3.62) hold those records.
Plummer holds the fourth and fifth marks for points in a season, and Smith holds the top spot for points per set in a season.
After his time in Macon, Ga., Edwards spent a season at Wyoming where he served as the recruiting coordinator. His 2005 class was given a High Honorable Mention award by PrepVolleyball.com, ranking the school among the top 50 in the country. The Cowgirls went 13-14 in the lone season he was there.
After Wyoming, he spent a year at Southland Conference rival Southeastern Louisiana in 2005, and he broke into the college coaching ranks in 1999 at Troy. Prior to his time as a Trojan, the 1999 Western Carolina graduate spent 10 seasons as a high school and club level head coach.
He guided Brevard High School to three consecutive state playoff appearances after inheriting a team that finished 4-16 the year before he arrived.
While in the high school ranks, Edwards was instrumental in bringing club volleyball to the Western North Carolina area. He helped found the Biltmore Volleyball Club in 1993 and worked with that squad until 1999.
Edwards, who resides in Beaumont, has one daughter, Brinsley, and one son, Cole.