SANTA CRUZ, CALI – UC Santa Cruz director of athletics Cliff Dochterman today announced the appointment of Paul Leon as the new men's volleyball interim head coach at UCSC. He takes over from 2015 AVCA Division III Men's Head Coach of the Year Todd Hollenbeck, who served as the coach of the Slugs from 2010-2015.
Leon has been the men's assistant volleyball coach at UCSC since 2013. As an assistant, Leon helped guide the Slugs to as high as a #2 NCAA DIII ranking while compiling a 38-18 overall record over two seasons.
"We are pleased to announce Paul as our new men's volleyball coach," said Dochterman. "It is great to have such a prolific UCSC volleyball star as our head coach. He was a vital part of last year's coaching staff that took the Slugs to a #2 national ranking. It is only natural he takes over as we try to compete for a national championship".
This past spring, the Slugs finished 24-6, losing in the NCAA quarterfinals in 5 games to Nazareth College. The Slugs graduated All-Americans Jacob Landel (OH) and Jake Hurwitz (L), but return All-American senior middle blocker Jorge Reyes as well as many additional key players, and 14 returners overall.
"I can't tell you how proud I am to represent this university. UC Santa Cruz volleyball has been part of my upbringing. So the opportunity to represent this university is a tremendous opportunity for me and I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have this chance. As a Slug alumni, it is truly an honor to coach this team. We will continue the great tradition of UCSC volleyball and represent our university as well as the Santa Cruz community "said Leon.
With the addition of Leon and his coaching staff, the Slugs bring a collection of former greats back to the program. "This coaching staff helps maintain the rich tradition that we have in our volleyball program, said Dochterman". "It definitely is a culture of competitiveness and intended expectation from the team that they are going to compete for a NCAA championship".
In the short term, Leon wants to establish roles for each player. "Everybody's role is critical for success as a team" adds Leon. "We will create a culture where everybody will hold themselves to the highest expectations, while holding each other to the highest expectations. We will focus on the little things and develop championship character."
Long term, Leon sees the opportunity to continue the success of the program. "When I look at the players who are here now and after spending time studying our team and our depth, I do believe we have the caliber of athletes here to accept a qualifying bid into the 2016 NCAA playoffs. We will be proactive and not reactive. We will carry the torch of the successful teams of the past" added Leon, "and write our own name into UC Santa Cruz history."
The Slugs first match is January 8 when they host Holy Names.