By: Office Intercollegiate Athletics
Longtime successful coach becomes just the 6th volleyball leader in UHH history
HILO, Hawai`i—A former national coach of the year and a longtime successful leader at the NCAA Division II level, Gene Krieger has been named the new head volleyball coach at the University of Hawai`i Hilo.
The announcement was made today, Monday, March 6 at a press conference on campus by athletic director Patrick Guillen. Krieger becomes just the sixth coach in UH Hilo’s storied program history.
Krieger’s teams won conference and regional/district titles at Cal Poly Pomona, California Baptist, Westmont and Western Oregon. His Warner Pacific team won an NCCAA national championship, and he earned national coach of the year honors while at Cal Poly Pomona, California Baptist and Warner Pacific. He has been a regional/district coach of the year at all five of those schools.
“I couldn’t be more excited to have Gene Krieger on our staff as the next leader of our volleyball program,” said UHH athletic director Patrick Guillen. “Gene has a record that speaks for itself, but I am also very impressed with his commitment to the development of the whole person. He will be entrenched in our community and in the lives of our student-athletes. I have no doubt that he will develop a program at UH Hilo that will make us proud.”
Krieger has a career collegiate record of 367-210.
He is also very aware of and has great respect of the history of Vulcan volleyball, which won five NAIA national championships in the 1980’s. One of his first road trips as the coach at California Baptist was right here to Hilo, playing a Sharon Peterson coached UHH team.
“I want to thank Pat and the committee for their faith in me,” Krieger said. “It is both exciting and humbling to be chosen and accepted as the next volleyball coach at the University of Hawai`i Hilo. I have a strange sense of obligation and sentiment, knowing the great history of this program. I lost matches in that gym to some of Sharon’s great teams and have so much respect for her and this volleyball community. She invited me to her practices and I took notes. I would love to help get this program back to that level.”
Most recently, Krieger began the process of turning around the Anderson University (South Carolina) program. After an initial season of 11-18 (2015), the Trojans improved to 19-12 last fall, winning six of their final seven matches. He was named the Anderson athletic department’s Coach of the Year.
Previously at Northwestern Oklahoma State, he took a team that had won just two games in 2012, improved to 5-26 in 2013 and completed the rebuild in 2014 with a 17-11 mark. Both are NCAA Division II schools. His recent Anderson team won two American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) awards for academic success.
“Gene has a successful track record and history of turning around programs in short order,” Guillen said. “There is no doubt in my mind that he will build a championship culture here at UH Hilo and develop a program that the Hilo community and the entire state of Hawai`i will be proud of.
“That is what I brought him here to do and I look forward to working with him closely to accomplish this goal.”
Krieger has ties to Hawaii. He coached current University of Hawai`i Manoa standout Kalei Greeley as a prep at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, Calif. He has recruited many student-athletes from the state on his teams, and while at CBU he annually held his pre-season training camp in Oahu, specifically because of the number of Hawaii natives on his roster.
“My philosophy here will always be Hawaii first,” he said. “There are tons of great players in this state. I will recruit Hawaii kids in every way possible, from the high schools and clubs on the islands to the players that leave here to go to junior college in California and are ready to come home.”
In addition to his great success as a college coach, he also spent 13 years as the leader at Martin Luther King High School, compiling a 210-97 record, and was named the CIF Coach of the Year in 2013. He was named the Ivy League Coach of the Year five times, and for a period of four consecutive seasons his team was undefeated in league play.
Greeley still holds Krieger in the highest regards and is excited that he is coming to the Big Island.
“Coach Krieger has played a tremendous role in my evolution as a player and person,” said Greeley, who sat out last season at Hawaii but was a starter as a freshman and sophomore. “He deserves a lot of credit for the player I am today. He taught me pretty much everything I know about volleyball, and I firmly believe I would not be a Rainbow Wahine if it were not for him.
“What I really loved about Coach Krieger was his focus on not only developing me and my teammates into better volleyball players, but better people. He emphasized that he expected us to represent our volleyball program and school with class. Through his guidance and numerous motivational talks, I found myself learning valuable life lessons that will stick with me for the rest of my life.
“Coach Krieger has former players that are currently living in Hawaii,” Greeley continued. “I think I speak for all of us when I say we're happy to see our former coach getting this opportunity that he has worked so hard for. I know Coach is ecstatic about this opportunity. I have no doubt that he will put his heart and soul into the UH Hilo program. I know the program will flourish with him as head coach.”
Krieger and his wife Ashley were also involved in club volleyball in southern California, helping to start a grassroots program for kids that could not afford the costs that come with junior club volleyball.
“Gene understands the value of building a volleyball community,” said Kim Cherniss, head volleyball coach at perennial power Cal State San Bernardino. “His teams are always prepared and I have always been impressed by the level of athlete that he is able to recruit. More importantly, he has the player’s best interests at heart. He is a good father, a great coach and mentor and just a very good man.”
His family includes wife Ashley, son Tyler (played volleyball at Cal Baptist), daughter Karlie (played at UC Santa Barbara), and Shelbie, along with step-daughters Paige, Whitney, and Taylor Milam.
“What convinced me that Gene was the right person for this job was to learn what his current and former student-athletes had to say about him as a coach, educator, mentor and leader,” Guillen added. “Providing a positive student experience and creating lifelong friendships and memories through the sport of volleyball is a hallmark with Gene. I want our Vulcan student-athletes to have this benefit and he undoubtedly brings this experience to the table.”
Krieger earned his bachelor’s degree from Portland State in 1980, where played both basketball and volleyball for the Vikings. He played and coached for Athletes in Action and Sports and Cultural Exchange International summer teams.
For a number of years, he has been an AVCA Top 25 rater at the Division II level.
“There is a sense of sadness now when I don’t see the Hawaii Hilo name in that mix,” Krieger said. “They were a national power for so long. The people in this community deserve a program that they can be proud of and it will be my aim to build that. It will be an honor to recruit quality young ladies that represent the department admirably on the court, in the classroom and are actively involved on campus and reaching out to the community.”
Gene Krieger Career Highlights
*Anderson (2015-16)—Eight win improvement from year one to two.
*Northwestern Oklahoma State (2013-14)—12-win improvement from year one to two.
*Martin Luther King HS (2000-2013)—210-97 record, California (CIF) Coach of the Year, Five-time Ivy League Coach of the Year, state runner-up team, five league titles.
*California Baptist (1988-89 and 1992-96)—Record of 141-61, NAIA national runner-up (1992), Golden State Athletic Conference Coach of the Year (GSAC) in 1989 after leading Lancers to 35-8 record, GSAC title and NAIA Final Four appearance. 1992 Volleyball Monthly Magazine National Coach of the Year after inheriting a last place team (GSAC, ’91) and taking the Lancers to national title match in ’92.
*Cal Poly Pomona (1990-91)—Record of 56-22. NCAA west region champs. Back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances. Named the CCAA and NCAA Division II west region coach of the year. Won the school’s first-ever CCAA volleyball title.
*Westmont (1987)—Served as the head coach when Westmont leader Lisa Cvach went on maternity leave, leading the Warriors a 26-12 record. They won the GSAC tournament and the NAIA District 3 tournament. Krieger was named the District 3 Coach of the Year.
*Western Oregon (1983-84)—Had a 57-21 record. Mark of 37-6 in ’84, leading the Wolves to a Cascade Conference title and NAIA District 2 championship. Named the District 2 Coach of the Year.
*Warner Pacific (1981-82)—Took a start-up program and in two years won the NCCAA national championship (National Christian College Athletic Association). Had a 28-9 record in 1982.
Hawai`i Hilo Volleyball Coaching History
*Sharon Peterson (25 years, 1978-2002), 511-251 record, five NAIA national titles, two AIAW national championships.
*Julie Morgan (3 years, 2003-05), 24-46.
*Carla Carpenter-Kabalis (1 year, 2006), 4-18.
*Bruce Atkinson (3 years, 2007-09), 69-14, PacWest champions in 2009 (25-2 record), PWC champs in 2007.
*Tino Reyes (7 years, 2010-16), 78-84.