COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Former Louisville volleyball assistant coach Kolby O’Donnell has been named associate head coach at Texas A&M, Aggies head coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn announced today.
“There is a deep level of trust I have with Kolby and his overall attention to detail,” Kuhn said. “His ability to connect with recruits and share the vision of our Aggie program is something that will have an instant impact. We are on the same page when it comes to communication and building a winning culture, and I am beyond excited to have him on board.”
O’Donnell comes to A&M after spending the 2017 season at Louisville, where he made an immediate impact and helped the Cardinals not only double their number of wins from the previous season, but also helped guide them to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a return to the NCAA Tournament.
“My family and I are incredibly thankful to be a part of Texas A&M Volleyball,” O’Donnell said. “Texas A&M is a special place; I felt it the first time I stepped on campus. I was so impressed by the deep-rooted traditions and history of the program and university, a premier academic institution located in one of the hotbeds for recruiting in volleyball.
“I’ve known Bird a long time and consider her an elite-level coach and recruiter as well as a very close friend. We have had many conversations about the opportunity to work together. We share many of the same philosophies and beliefs when it comes to coaching, training and how to treat our student-athletes. I’m excited to get to College Station, meet the team and start working towards our goals for the program.”
Louisville was coming off a 12-18 season, including a 7-13 ACC record, before O’Donnell joined the Cardinals’ coaching staff prior to the 2017 season. O’Donnell helped spearhead the program’s impressive turnaround, which included an 11-match winning streak to close out the regular season to clinch a share of the ACC championship with an 18-2 record. Louisville, the only ACC team to complete the season undefeated at home, finished 24-7 after falling to Northern Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Championship.
Individually, Louisville first-year head coach Dani Busboom Kelly was named the AVCA East Region Coach of the Year. In addition, the Cardinals’ junior setter Wilma Rivera and junior libero Molly Sauer were named ACC setter and defensive player of the year, respectively. Rivera also collected honorable mention All-America distinction from the American Volleyball Coaches Association, and she was joined on the All-ACC first team by teammate Melanie McHenry, a sophomore outside hitter.
Before joining the Louisville staff, O'Donnell spent four seasons at UC Santa Barbara, serving as the top assistant coach for head coach Nicole Lantagne Welch, who made him her first hire when she took over the program in 2013. In addition to serving as the defensive coordinator, O’Donnell was UCSB’s recruiting coordinator and played a pivotal role in securing three top-30 recruiting classes over four years. The Gauchos’ 2015 recruiting class was ranked No. 18, marking the highest ranking in program history.
O'Donnell, who mainly worked with the outside hitters, opposites, liberos, and middle blockers, helped guide UCSB to a Big West Championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance in his first year with the team. Lantagne Welch was named the 2013 Big West Conference Coach of the Year, and outside hitter Ali Spindt was named freshman of the year. Senior outside hitter Leah Sully and freshman middle blocker Phoebe Grunt also collected all-conference honors as the Gauchos (18-11, 13-3 BWC) won their first conference title since 2005 and advanced to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2009.
In 2014, O’Donnell helped junior outside hitter Ali Barbeau capture All-Big West first-team accolades, and freshman outside hitter Chanel Hoffman and Spindt, who switched to the libero position due to an injury, both earned honorable mention.
Junior middle blocker Phoebe Grunt earned all-conference recognition and libero Emilia Petrachi was selected to the All-Freshman Team following the 2015 season, and in 2016 freshman outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins was named Big West Freshman of the Year and garnered conference first-team honors. In addition, Hoffman and senior middle blocker Elizabeth Sheffield received honorable mention, and freshman middle blocker Rowan Ennis was selected to the league’s all-freshman team as the Gauchos added nine wins to their total from the previous season to close out the year at 17-12, 8-8.
O'Donnell had also served as an assistant for Lantagne Welch in 2012 at the University of Miami, where he helped the Hurricanes to a 25-6 overall record and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In one of the program's most notable seasons in school history, Lantagne Welch and O'Donnell directed Miami to a program-record 17 conference wins to finish within one match of an ACC championship.
Miami dominated the 2012 conference awards with six Hurricanes named to the All-ACC Team and Lantagne Welch collecting ACC Coach of the Year accolades. Five players garnered AVCA All-East Region accolades, and Lantagne Welch was honored as the region coach of the year. Furthermore, Emani Sims, a sophomore middle blocker, became the second AVCA All-American in program history, earning third-team honors after hitting .328 and averaging 1.39 blocks and 2.48 kills per set.
Preceding his stint at Miami, O'Donnell was on the staff at Appalachian State, serving as assistant coach from 2008-10 and associate head coach in 2011-12. O'Donnell also served as recruiting coordinator for the Mountaineers.
His first coaching stop was at Radford University, where he was an assistant from 2006-08.
“I’d like to thank Lori Williams (Texas A&M Senior Associate Athletics Director/Senior Woman Administrator), Stephanie Rempe (Texas A&M Deputy Director of Athletics), and of course Bird for this amazing opportunity,” O’Donnell added. “I’d be remise not to mention others who have helped to mentor me along the way: many thanks to Dani Busboom-Kelly, Nicole Lantagne Welch and Matt Ginipro. Without the guidance and the opportunities they provided, this would not be possible.”
O'Donnell had a successful playing career, captaining the Lees-McRae College Bobcats for two of his four years and leading them to a 66-26 record. The middle hitter from Latrobe, Pennsylvania, graduated from Lees-McRae College in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in sports management.
He and his wife, Taukia, have two sons, Remington (Remy) and Jameson.