Dan Conners Joins NU Volleyball Coaching Staff
Nebraska Head Coach John Cook announced on Friday the hiring of UCLA assistant Dan Conners to the Huskers' volleyball staff. Conners has spent the past five seasons with the Bruins, helping them to a 124-44 (.738 winning percentage) record and five straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. Along with coordinating the Huskers' blocking and defense, Conners will take over NU's recruiting coordinator duties.
“Our goal was to hire someone who has big match experience,” Cook said. “Dan is great in the gym and we are excited about what he is going to bring to our program.”
Prior to his time at UCLA, Conners was the top assistant at Cal State Northridge from 2004 to 2006, where he helped the Matadors to a 56-36 record. He was also the head coach of the West Coast Volleyball Club Boys Under-18 team and was named the interim coach of the women's team at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, Calif., prior to the 2005 season.
“I am excited about the opportunity to join the Husker volleyball program,” Conners said. “The tradition at Nebraska is second to none. The Nebraska Athletic Department has a rich history of producing quality student-athletes, and I am humbled to be a part of it.”
Conners' UCLA connection started as a player, as he competed on the Bruins' 2001 NCAA runner-up team that lost to BYU in the national championship match. He averaged 6.25 assists per game in 2001. Conners went on to play professionally for the Almoradi Volleyball Club in Almoradi, Spain. As the team's setter, he led the squad to a first-place standing during the regular season and a third-place postseason tournament finish. While in Spain, Conners started his coaching career, working with an Under-16 girls team associated with the Almoradi club.
“I have a lot to learn about coaching and Coach Cook is one of the best teachers in the game,” Conners said. “Moving from California to Nebraska is not only going to help me grow as a coach, but also as a person.”
Conners will be part of a new staff under Cook in 2011, as Conners and Dan Meske will be replacing former assistants Lizzy Stemke, who is now the head coach at Georgia, and Erik Sullivan, who recently took an assistant coach position at Texas. Former Husker national champion Maggie Griffin has also joined Cook's staff as a volunteer assistant, as she filled the void left by Meske when he moved into a full-time position.
“Dan Conners will coach our middles and coordinate our block and defense, while Dan Meske will work with the outside hitters and liberos,” Cook said. “Maggie Griffin will train the setters along with providing our players with a great role model and mentor.”
The rest of the Husker staff is rounded out by a pair of former Husker national champions in Lindsay Peterson and Laura Buttermore. Peterson will enter her sixth season as the Huskers' director of operations, while 2011 will mark Buttermore's seventh season as the team's strength and conditioning coach.
“We are very excited about our new staff that includes three former players from Nebraska, along with both Dan Meske and Dan Conners,” Cook said. “We can't wait to start preparing our team and program for the move to the Big Ten and a future move to a new arena in 2014.”
The Huskers have also finalized their 2011 non-conference schedule. Nebraska will open the season with a trip to Albuquerque, N.M., for a tournament hosted by the University of New Mexico. NU will also play in Colorado State's tournament in Fort Collins, before opening the 2011 home season on Thursday, Sept. 8, with the Players Challenge. Non-conference matches will conclude on Saturday, Sept. 17, when Iowa State pays a visit to the NU Coliseum. The Huskers' Big Ten Conference schedule has not been finalized.