Wade Benson Returns to Eastern as Head Volleyball Coach - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Eastern Washington Volleyball

Wade Benson Returns to Eastern as Head Volleyball Coach

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Wade Benson led the Eagles to six consecutive 20-win seasons while in Cheney, and took the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament in 2001. (Photo: EWU Athletics) Wade Benson led the Eagles to six consecutive 20-win seasons while in Cheney, and took the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament in 2001. (Photo: EWU Athletics)

by EWU Athletics

Already a household name within the Spokane and Cheney communities, Wade Benson returns to Eastern Washington University to once again serve as head volleyball coach for the Eagles, announced Tuesday (Dec. 18) by EWU athletic director Bill Chaves.

Benson, a 2006 graduate of Eastern Washington, replaces interim head coach Lisa Westlake, who had stepped in after former head coach Miles Kydd resigned in August.

Benson was the head coach at Eastern from 2000-06, compiling an impressive record of 154-55 (.737) - the best winning percentage of any coach in school history. His Big Sky record during that time of 78-24 (.765) still ranks among the top four in conference history.

"We are very excited to welcome Coach Benson back into the Eagle family," said Chaves. "He has been a tremendously successful head coach at every school. What he was able to previously accomplish in the Big Sky speaks for itself. We look forward to our program again being very competitive year in and year out under his leadership."

Benson led the Eagles to six-consecutive 20-win seasons, three Big Sky regular-season titles and one tournament title in 2001. The Eagles played in the Big Sky Championship match each of his seven years at the helm. After earning the automatic bid to the NCAA National Championship in 2001, Benson's team upset Oregon State, 3-2, in the first round to advance to the second round of the tournament, which is still the best postseason run by any Big Sky team in history.

"I am very honored that the administration chose me to help Eastern Washington once again compete for Big Sky Championships, as well as NCAA berths," said Benson. "There is a lot of work to be done, but I am very excited about the opportunity. I have faith that in a year or two we will be able to restore Eastern to playing at a championship level."

In 2002, Benson directed the Eagles to a 29-2 overall record, which remains as the best single-season record of any Big Sky team throughout history. That year, the Eagles also made the USA Today/AVCA Division I Top 25 poll for the first time, and earned a ranking as high as No. 15 in the nation, which marked another all-time league record.

Benson's teams at Eastern Washington also experienced success in the classroom and in attendance at Reese Court. Five of Benson's squads received the AVCA Team Academic Award, while his players were honored 59 times on the Big Sky All-Academic list from 2000-2006. In addition, Eastern averaged more than 1,000 fans per match in each of his seven seasons and ranked in the top 30 nationally in attendance. He earned an impressive 60-9 home record while at EWU.

Benson left Eastern following the 2006 season for an assistant coaching position at Auburn. After one year with the Tigers, he was promoted to head coach. In just three seasons at the helm, Benson took Auburn from a 6-25 team in 2008 to a national-tournament contender in 2010 with 21-13 record. Those 21 overall wins were the most the team has had since 1998, while his 11 victories in Southeastern Conference play tied a school record. That same year, the Tigers earned an at-large bid to the 2010 NCAA National Championship - Auburn's first appearance in school history. The team went on to win its first-round matchup against Missouri State, 3-0.

After his first full year of recruiting at Auburn, Benson pulled in the nation's No. 26 recruiting class for 2009, according to PrepVolleyball.com. The nine-member class also ranked third in the SEC. Among the class was outside hitter Sarah Bullock, who was named to the SEC All-Freshmen Team.

Benson had a total of four players named to the All-SEC team from 2008-2010. While at Eastern, he had 16 different players named to the All-Big Sky team, including 12 first-team selections and two Big Sky MVPs. The 2002 MVP, Janelle Ruen, also earned AVCA All-Pacific Honorable Mention accolades.

Over the past two years, Benson has been in business privately, while living in Miramar Beach, Fla. Along with small business endeavors outside of volleyball, Benson has been coaching club volleyball and giving private lessons. He has also served as a volleyball consultant, conducting seminars and clinics at various four-year universities and junior colleges around the country.

Prior to his coaching positions at the Division I level at Eastern and Auburn, Benson was the head coach at Western Oregon for one year, where he put together a 42-7 overall record in 1995. His team won the Cascade Collegiate Conference regular-season and tournament titles, and went on to finish third in the 1995 NAIA National Championship.

Aside from his time as a head coach, Benson also has eight years of experience as an assistant. He served under Judy Lovre at Western Oregon for three years, before joining the Eastern Washington staff, where he was an assistant for four years under current SWA, Pamela Parks.

Together, Parks and Benson led the Eagles to three-straight seasons of 22+ wins (1997-99), as well as two Big Sky tournament titles in 1998 and 1999. The Eagles placed third or higher in the Big Sky regular-season standings in each of his 11 seasons as a member of the EWU coaching staff.

During those 11 years in the Spokane area, Benson also served as the club director and head coach of the Spokane Splash Volleyball Club, while also working as camp director of the Northern Exposure Volleyball Camp in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Benson and his wife, Jill, have a 9-year-old son, Brady Jaymz, and a 7-year-old daughter, Bailey Marie.

Benson's wife is the former Jill Haas, who was an All-American volleyball player at Sacramento State from 1994-96. A member of the Sac State Volleyball Hall of Fame, she holds school records in career kills (2,037), single-season kills (798), single-match kills (40) and single-match digs (42). She also ranks sixth all-time in career digs (1,576) and third in single-season digs (619).

 

Year

School

Position

Head Coach

Overall Record/Pct.

Conf. Record/Finish

Postseason

1992

Western Oregon

Asst. Coach

Judy Lovre

49-9/.845

7-0/1st*

NAIA Semifinals

1993

Western Oregon

Asst. Coach

Judy Lovre

43-7/.860

6-0/1st*

NAIA Quarterfinals

1994

Western Oregon

Asst. Coach

Judy Lovre

39-14/.736

6-1/2nd

NAIA Final

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1995

Western Oregon

Head Coach

 

42-7/.857

11-1/1st*

NAIA Semifinals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1996

Eastern Washington

Asst. Coach

Pam Parks

16-12/.571

9-7/3rd

Big Sky Quarterfinals

1997

Eastern Washington

Asst. Coach

Pam Parks

22-6/.786

13-3/1st

Big Sky Semifinals

1998

Eastern Washington

Asst.. Coach

Pam Parks

24-6/.800

13-3/2nd*

NCAA First Round

1999

Eastern Washington

Asst. Coach

Pam Parks

24-8/.750

12-4/3rd*

NCAA First Round

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2000

Eastern Washington

Head Coach

 

19-11/.833

11-5/3rd

Big Sky Final

2001

Eastern Washington

Head Coach

 

21-6/.778

9-5/3rd*

NCAA Second Round

2002

Eastern Washington

Head Coach

 

29-2/.935

13-1/1st

Big Sky Final

2003

Eastern Washington

Head Coach

 

22-8/.733

13-1/1st

Big Sky Final

2004

Eastern Washington

Head Coach

 

20-10/.667

12-2/1st

Big Sky Final

2005

Eastern Washington

Head Coach

 

23-9/.719

10-4/2nd

Big Sky Final

2006

Eastern Washington

Head Coach

 

20-9/.690

10-6/3rd

Big Sky Final

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2007

Auburn

Asst. Coach

Laura Farina

11-20/.355

3-17/6th

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2008

Auburn

Head Coach

 

6-25/.193

1-13/6th

 

2009

Auburn

Head Coach

 

16-15/.516

8-12/2nd

 

2010

Auburn

Head Coach

 

21-13/.618

11-9/3rd

NCAA Nat'l Second Round

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