College volleyball, especially for women, is growing in popularity. The 2010 NCAA women’s championship drew 794,000 viewers, about as much as an average regular season Major League Baseball game. If you crave the limelight and have the skills to compete among the nation’s best, you can look into attending one of a handful of perennially title-contending programs.
University of California, Irvine
The Anteaters always seem to be an NCAA title contender, winning the men’s volleyball championship in 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2013. Head coach David Kniffin is the second coach in the 44-year history of the NCAA sport to guide a team to a national championship in his first year in 2013. That year his squad remained No. 1 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division I-II men’s coaches top 15 poll from start to finish. He was a UC Irvine assistant from 2007 to 2011 before leaving to lead the University of Illinois women’s team to the national finals in 2011.
Pennsylvania State University
Penn State University has dominated women’s volleyball, winning the NCAA title in 2013, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007. The men’s team won the title in 2008 and came in second in 2006 and 2010. The lady Nittany Lions are led by Russ Rose, who had amassed 1,125 wins after the 2013 season. That’s only four shy of the Division I all-time record. His 86 percent career winning percentage was best in NCAA history in 2013. Men’s team head coach Mark Pavlik had coached 20 years through 2013 and was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association coach of the year in 2008.
The Stanford women’s volleyball program has six national titles, tied for the all-time record with Penn State. The Cardinal women’s team came in second in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The men’s team took home the title in 2010 and was the national runner up in 2014. As of 2013, John Dunning had coached the women’s team for 13 years. Counting his 16 seasons as head coach at Pacific, he had led every one of this teams to the NCAA tournament as of 2013. Men’s head coach John Kosty led the Cardinal to the top 10 seven of his eight seasons as of 2013.
University of Southern California
The USC Women of Troy made it to the NCAA tournament 13 consecutive years as of 2013. The women’s team won championships in 2002 and 2003 and finished in the top five seven times in the past 13 years, as of 2013. Women’s head coach Mick Haley took over in 2000, and led the 2003 championship team to an undefeated season for only the fourth time in NCAA history. Bill Ferguson took over the men’s team in 2006. His squads were national runners up in 2009 and 2012. Ferguson was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association coach of the year in 2009.
- NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship History
- UC Irvine Athletics: Men’s Volleyball: Head Coach David Kniffin
- NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship History
- Penn State Atletics: Women’s Volleyball: Head Coach Russ Rose
- Penn State Athletics: Men’s Volleyball: Head Coach Mark Pavlik
- Stanford Home of Champions: Women’s Volleyball: Head Coach John Dunning
- Stanford Home of Champions: Men’s Volleyball: Head Coach John Kosty
- USC Trojan Athletics: Women’s Volleyball: Head Coach Mick Haley
- USC Trojan Athletics: Men’s Volleyball: Head Coach Bill Ferguson
- Sports Media Watch: The Ratings Game: NCAA Volleyball Championship Scores Nearly 800,000 Viewers
- imagean/iStock/Getty Images