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SAVC Coaching Staff

The SAVC 2018-2019 coaching staff consists of many former college volleyball players, current college coaches and high school coaches from the area with years of experience

Meet our team below

Erikka Dean-Gulbranson
Director of Volleyball
Co-Founder of Sports Academy
*Master Trainer for Girls 13-14’s

Birthplace: Van Nuys, CA
Hometown: Thousand Oaks, CA

Erikka has spent 27+ years in the sport of volleyball with her experience ranging from playing, coaching, directing and managing youth, collegiate and international teams. Now a partner in Sports Academy, she has been instrumental in the development of sports programming, youth sports development and now leads SA Volleyball Club as the Director.

COLLEGE COACHING EXPERIENCE

CSU BAKERSFIELD | 1994-1996
Graduate Assistant, Women’s Volleyball
Director of Southern California’s Largest Grass Tournament Series

UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO | 1996–1997
Second Assistant Coach / Recruiting Coordinator, Women’s Volleyball

UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY | 1997-1998
First Assistant Coach / Recruiting Coordinator, Women’s Volleyball

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA | 1999 – 2001
Director of Operations / First Assistant Coach / Recruiting Coordinator, Women’s Volleyball Coach

VANGUARD UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA | 2001 – 2007
Head Women’s Volleyball Coach, Recruiting Coordinator & Associate Sports Science Professor

HIGH SCHOOL & CLUB COACHING EXPERIENCE

High School Coach, Thousand Oaks HS Boys | 1991
Porterville Volleyball Club – Coach | 1991-1993
Kern River Volleyball Club – Coach | 1993-1996
Sports Shack Volleyball Club – Coach & Assistant Director | 1999-2001
Nova Volleyball Club – Owner | 2001-2007
Texas Tornados Volleyball Club – Training & Camp Director, Coach | 2009-2014
Redwood Middle School – Assistant Coach | 2016–2017
Sports Academy Volleyball Club – Director | 2015-present

USA VOLLEYBALL

First Assistant Coach, USA Youth National Team, Poland | April 2003
First Assistant Coach, USA Junior National Team, Canada | January 2004
Head Volleyball Coach, USA Youth National Team – World Championships Macau, China | July 2005
First Assistant Coach, USA Junior National Team, Mexico | July 2006
First Assistant Coach, USA Youth National Team, Serbia | December 2007
USA Volleyball Coaching Accreditation Program Level I, II, III | June 2005
USA Volleyball C.A.P. Impact Teaching Status | January 2006
USA CAP Level III – National Teams Coach | June 2006

SUMMARY OF COACHING EXPERIENCES

Other USA & International Coaching Responsibilities:

  • Head Coach WJNTA2 Developmental Camp in Colorado Springs
  • Head Court Coach & Asst. Director & Evaluator for USA High Performance try-outs
  • Coaching experience at major international events such as: NORCECA, World Championships, USA Volleyball Nationals, Volleyball Festival and BringItUSA International Volleyball Tournaments.
  • Coordination of team training and match preparation with scouting and pre-match analysis
  • International team travel coordination and supervision

After serving as a Head Coach and Trainer for the Youth & Junior National Teams, Erikka developed a High Performance Coaches technical training manual, used to train all National Team program staff in the Nation. During this period her personal sports training business, Advanced Sports Training, was hired to travel throughout the nation to train coaches & players with the new USA Volleyball Training methodologies, all while teaming up with former Olympic Team Coach Toshiaki Yoshida in 2005 to write the book “Inside Out of Passing.” Recently in 2014, the “Inside Out of Passing,” was translated into Polish with the help of Grupa Codex and given to all Volleyball Trainers and Physical Education Coaches throughout Poland

US Embassy Sports Envoy Ambassador | 2008 Brazil & 2011 Peru
Traveling throughout each country training children and adults in the sport of volleyball, as well as meeting with government representatives to educate and compel them to include all ages, boys and girls in sport.

2006 Nigerian Volleyball Project | From May 16-25, 2006
Erikka joined six other American mentors in the Nigerian Volleyball Project (NVP) as they instructed a select group of Nigerian coaches and nearly 500 Nigerian athletes, both male and female, ages ranging from 12-19. The project, which was sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the Institute for International Sport, began with a one-day coaches clinic administered by the American mentors to the group of Nigerian coaches. After the clinic, the two groups of coaches joined forces in running two separate two-day instructional camps for the young athletes.

At the University of Southern California Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coodinator/Director of Operations
3x Consecutive National Champion – responsible for recruiting class (FAB 4 – April Ross Beach VB Olympian, Nicole Davis – 2x Indoor VB Olympian, Katie Olsovsky Indoor National Team, Keao Burdine AVP Player, and several All Americans.

She graduated from Cal State Bakersfield with a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1995 and received her Master’s in education in 1997. She was a four-year letter-winner with the Roadrunners (1991-94), participated in 3 Elite 8’s, 2 National Championships and was named to the Elite Eight All-Tournament Team at the 1994 NCAA Division II National Championships. She holds the Cal State Bakersfield career record for service aces (193) and set the single-season mark with 70 aces in 1994, broken in 2015. She is now second on the career digs list with 1,437. Later, while coaching at Bakersfield, she helped coach the team to a California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship, an NCAA Division II Southwest Regional Championship and a berth in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight during both seasons.

Erikka grew up locally, is a volleyball & softball alumni of Thousand Oaks High School as well as So Cal VBC & Zuma Bay VBC.  She is married and holds an M.S. in Education, a B.S. in Physical Education, and a California Teaching Credential. She spent 10 years in several So Cal school districts teaching physical education and developing fitness & sports curriculum for elementary schools. She is also a USAV C.A.P. III certified teaching instructor and National Teams Master Coach.

Tim Jenson
Director of Beach Volleyball
Co-Founder of Sports Academy
*Master Trainer for Girls 17-18’s

Hometown: Ventura, CA

Tim Jensen brings over 20 years of knowledge and expertise in coaching and the sports management field while serving as CEO and Founder of the Sports Shack and various other sports organization. At Sports Shack Tim managed numerous facilities with over 50 employees and over 200 members in the club. His teams were National powerhouses and won numerous medals and tournament titles in nationally recognized events. His 18-1 team that he personally coached won back to back Gold medals at the USA Junior Olympics becoming one of only two coaches in the history of USA Volleyball to achieve such a feat. He was responsible for daily operations and oversaw training for all coaches and athletes, sales, marketing, and customer service. He provided leadership, motivation and general counsel to both athletes and staff along with implementing uniform standards and techniques for all employees to ensure professionalism and a level of comfort for all. His customer awareness policies made the club a refreshing place for parents and children to compete and train at the highest level. He spent 15 years Coaching and running a program at the NCAA level. The knowledge he accrued while Coaching at Pepperdine University allows him to understand how to deal with people on many levels creating a competitive learning environment. He was actively involved in recruiting, fundraising, and a member of various NCAA committees’ including the NCAA Rules committee the NCAA Recruiting task force and a 2 year term as Head representative for the WCC on the Assistant Coaches Committee. Tim has served on various community boards, consulted for many local youth sports organizations and clubs and owns numerous summer camps. His lifelong dedication to competitive sports led him to a 30 year career in volleyball where he competed in junior and collegiate volleyball and also has coached at the professional level on the beach. He is a member of the Positive Coaching Alliance, Impact certified and has a CAP level II coaching certification.

Rich Barraza
Director of Boys Volleyball
Master Coach

Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA
Hometown: Granada Hills, CA

Rich Barraza has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach and develop the boys and girls club volleyball programs. Rich is coming off his 3rd year as the women’s volleyball Head Coach for Los Angeles Mission College after serving one year with the Pepperdine’s men’s volleyball program as volunteer assistant coach under legendary Head Coach Marv Dunphy and then Associate Head Coach, David Hunt. Barraza, a 2011 graduate of Cal State Northridge, began his college career at Pierce College. He was an All-State and All-Conference performer for the Brahmas, playing for current Director of Integrated Sports Medicine, Dr. Beau Daniels.

Barraza then transitioned to the coaching side of the game, serving stints at Harvard-Westlake High School and Granada Hills Charter High School. In 2010, he acted as an assistant coach for the Pierce women’s volleyball team and guided the Brahmas to their first state championship in school history. He was also on staff the following year, when Pierce successfully defended its title for a second straight championship.

Barraza also boasts experience coaching at the club level, having worked for the Los Angeles Volleyball Academy (LAVA) and the Santa Monica Beach Club (SMBC) for 10 years. While at SMBC, he coached four different boys’ teams to USAV Junior National Championship bronze and gold medals.

Barraza earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies from Cal State Northridge in 2011 and earned a Master’s in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University in 2015. Rich values education and growth, and in the summer of 2018, has since completed his second and third Master’s from Loyola Marymount (Masters of Education with a credential in Physical Education) and Concordia (Masters of Science) respectively.

E. Ashley Dean
Director of Developmental Volleyball
Co-Founder of Sports Academy
*Master Trainer for Girls & Boys Academy & Girls 11-12’s

Birthplace: San Diego, CA
Hometown: La Jolla, CA

E. Ashley Dean has been around the sport of volleyball for 21 years, as a youth and collegiate player, trainer, recruiter and coach. Dean graduated from Dartmouth College in 2002 with a degree in American Government following a successful four- year playing career as an outside hitter on the Dartmouth Women’s Volleyball Team.  

While at Dartmouth, Dean was a two-time captain for the Big Green and set school records across various categories. Dean was a three-time All Ivy League player and was ranked 12th in the nation for digs per game during her sophomore year.

Dean began her coaching career with Metro Volleyball Club of Virginia and served as the Varsity Volleyball Coach at the National Cathedral School located in Washington D.C. She then went on to join the Husky’s as the Assistant Women’s Volleyball Coach at Northeastern University, in Boston, MA. While at Northeastern, Dean’s main responsibilities involved developing and conducting practices and training sessions, organized recruiting operations at the national and international level and instructed players on skill development. 

Dean’s passion for volleyball has led her to numerous international coaching tours, Youth and National High Performance camps/try-outs, and philanthropic work with our U.S. Embassy. Most recently, she traveled to Peru and Brazil serving as an ambassador to the sport of volleyball, training local youth and advising local coaches on ‘best practices’ for the sport. 

From 2010-2014 Ashley served as the Youth Program Director, Tournament Director, Age-Group Coordinator for the 11s and 12s program and Tumbleweeds Director for at Texas Tornados Volleyball Club in Houston, Texas.

As the Age – Group Coordinator, Dean’s major focus is developing and implementing the on court training protocol for the 11s and 12s teams, as well as serving as a supervisor for the head coaches and assistant coaches. She is IMPACT and CAP I certified.

When not on the court, Dean serves as Director of Corporate Development for Sports Academy.

She resides in Thousand Oaks with her wife of seven years. Both are avid sports enthusiasts and enjoy road biking, mountain biking, hiking, yoga and spending time with family and friends. 

Casey Patterson
Beach Volleyball Development Coordinator
Olympian & Professional Beach Volleyball Athlete

Birthplace: Van Nuys, CA
Hometown: Huntington Beach, CA

Casey has been coaching for 10 years and most recently competed at the Rio Olympic Games in beach volleyball. He has coached at Mater Dei high school for both the boy’s and girl’s programs for 3 years, Huntington Beach boys volleyball, and head coach for Surf City and HBC volleyball clubs in Huntington Beach.

He first started playing volleyball at Newbury Park high school. Casey went on the play for BYU as a setter from 2001-2005. Post college Casey won multiple professional championships overseas as an outside and opposite attacker. He decided to focus on beach volleyball full-time in 2007.  In 2009 he won his first AVP title and has gone on to win World Tour Golds.

Casey is known for his passion and fire on the court and as a coach. Sharing his love for the game and teaching the highest level of the sport being played world-wide is his goal.

Kendall Bilbruck
Volleyball Operations Coordinator
16-1 Girls Assistant Coach

Birthplace: Orange County, CA
Hometown: Huntington Beach, CA

Kendall Bilbruck from Orange County has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach and develop the Volleyball program.  She graduated from Fountain Valley High School in 2010 where she played varsity point guard for the basketball team for one year and a varsity setter on the volleyball team for three years.  Kendall also won the Coach’s Award both her junior and senior for volleyball.  She then went on to study at Cal State Channel Islands and graduated in 2014 where she continued to coach. 

If Kendall could pattern her style of play after a famous athlete, it would be Lisa Leslie.  “I was fortunate enough to be able to work with her a bit once I was out of college. She is incredibly intelligent and extremely hard working. I was able to see the passion and dedication she put into her everyday life first hand. Whether it was with her career as a business women, her passion for education and sports, or the love for her family, she is someone I will always and continue to admire and strive to be.”

Kendall loves coaching because she is “able to have a positive impact on the players and be able to teach them lessons that will not only be beneficial on the court, but in life as well.”  When she’s is not coaching, she loves to paint and sketch.

David Hunt
Boys Master Coach
Boys 17-1 Head Coach

Hometown: Glendale, CA
Birthplace: Glendale, CA

David Hunt from Glendale has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach and develop the Volleyball program.  Even before graduating from UCLA in 2008 with a degree in History, David started his storied coaching career at Harvard-Westlake High School as an assistant, winning the state championship his first year.  He also started working for Pepperdine’s volleyball program at this time, starting as a video coordinator and volunteer assistant.  For the next ten years, David worked his way up, becoming an assistant in 2010, associate head coach in 2014, and eventually earning the title head coach in July of 2017.

Under David’s tutelage, Pepperdine Volleyball thrived.  In his first season with them, the team finished ranked 2nd nationally, averaged ranking in the top 10 in nine seasons, and in the top 5 six times.  David also earned national acclaim as an assistant, receiving the American Volleyball Coaches Association Thirty Under 30 Award in 2010, 2016, and 2017. 

David took his coaching talents around the world as well.  In 2008, he was selected to travel with the Men’s National Team to the Pan American Cup in Brazil as a technical coordinator.  In 2011, David was an assistant coach for the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team and finished in 4th place.  The following year he was an assistant for the U.S. Boy’s Youth National Team, winning bronze at the NORCECA Boy’s Youth Continental Championships.  David then became an assistant coach for the Japanese Men’s National Team where the team earned its first FIVB World League win in over two years. 

David Hunt then returned to the states as the head coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2014 at the NORCECA World Championship Qualification Tournament at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.  They posted four shutout victories to reach the 2014 FIVB World Championships.  He also served as a consultant coach during the team’s first ever gold medal run at the championships in Italy.  He took the reins of the national team in 2015 at the Pan American Cup in Lima, Peru and then a sideline coach for team USA in the 2016 Olympic Games where the women won bronze.

Kyle Luongo
18-1 Girls Head Coach

Birthplace: Valencia, CA
Hometown: Palmdale, CA

Kyle Luongo from Palmdale has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach and develop the Volleyball program. He graduated from Highland High School in 2005 where he was a varsity setter for three years. The team was league champions all three years, he was team captain for two of them, 1st Team All-League, and league MVP. Kyle then took his talents to Piece College where he was 2nd Team Conference his first year, 1st Team Conference his second, and All State Tournament Team both years. He also finished leading the state in assists. Transferring to Pepperdine University, he continued his success with volleyball, earning National Championship runner up and MPSF champion.

Kyle has been coaching volleyball for the past 11 years. He loves teaching the game and having it translate to the students’ lives off the court. “I love how sport is a microcosm for life, and that while we focus primarily on building skills and making changes, we are also very much focused on the long-term character and life after sport.”

If you can’t find Kyle playing or coaching volleyball, he is probably out cycling.

Brad Rostratter
16-1 Boys Head Coach

Birthplace: Roseville, CA
Hometown: Roseville, CA

Brad Rostratter from Orange County has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach and develop the Volleyball program. As an athlete, Brad was the team captain of the Orange Coast College volleyball team before taking his talents to Concordia University-Irvine, earning an NAIA National Championship and graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and Communications in 2013.

Brad started his volleyball coaching career off in 2010 and over the span of the next six years, he worked as the head boys’ coach for Balboa Bay Volleyball Club, the assistant boys’ coach for Newport Harbor High School, and the head junior varsity girls’ coach for Laguna Beach High School in Laguna Beach. During this time, he also served as the Pan-Am Cup Volunteer Assistant Coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team in Anaheim then went on to be the VIS Coordinator for the U.S. Women’s National Team, where he worked with DataVolley and live stats for the squad.

Brad would eventually return to his alma mater, to work towards his Masters of Arts in Coaching and Athletic Administration while also coaching the team, working as a graduate assistant, and even heading the Girls Volleyball Team at T-Street Volleyball Club in Irvine.

In 2015, Brad was a Boys Select A1 Camp Coach at the USAV High Performance in Des Moines, Iowa then moved over to Arizona the next year where he served as Director of Volleyball Operations at Arizona State University. Finally, in 2017, Brad returned to California to join the coaching ranks of Pepperdine men’s volleyball as a volunteer assistant coach before being elevated to the role of assistant coach that June.

Aaron Hedland
Master Coach

Birthplace: Granada Hills, CA
Hometown: Newbury Park, CA

Aaron Hedland from Granada Hills has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach and develop the Volleyball program. He graduated from Westlake High School in 2004 where he played varsity outside hitter for two years. During his time there, the Warriors won countless titles and were even ranked first in the state his senior year. His individual awards include 1st team all-Marmonte, All-Ventura County, All-Area, and All-CIF honors. He also was the coveted Warrior Award recipient. During this time he also participated in the BJNCs Open division.

Aaron then took his talents to Moorpark College and played for Steve Burkhart where he was a two-year starter, captain the second year, and received All-Western State Conference honors both years.  Transferring to UC San Diego, Aaron played for Kevin Ring and was a two-year academic All-American. Aaron values the coaching abilities and insight of Coach Popovich and John Wooden and tries to pattern his style of play after Gilberto Amauri de Godoy Filho, the outside hitter of the Brazilian National Team.  If he isn’t playing volleyball in the gym or at the beach, you can find Aaron going to the movies or playing soccer with his friends.

Alex Barr
15-2 Girls Head Coach

Birthplace: Woodland Hills, CA
Hometown: Thousand Oaks, CA

Alex Barr from Woodland Hills has joined the Sports Academy team to help and develop the Volleyball program. He graduated from Thousand Oaks High School in 2013 where he was a setter on varsity for two years. During his time there, he won the Coach’s Award twice and Marmonte League Honorable Mention. Alex then took his talents to Moorpark College where the team tied for first place in the Western State Conference and he once again won the Coach’s Award. Alex currently attends Cal Lutheran University.

If Alex could pattern his style of play after any athlete, it would be Steve Nash. Why? “Nash, despite lacking in athleticism compared to many other NBA point guards, was able to become an elite athlete. He got his entire team involved and would constantly trick defenses with fancy passes and ball handling. Nash’s playstyle on the basketball court translates to the perfect setter on the volleyball court.”

It is no surprise that Alex’s true talent is in his coaching ability. He is in his 4th year of coaching working with both boys and girls from his high school alma mater. He got into coaching because “my club and high school coaches always recommended me to go into coaching and called me a ‘coach on the court’. I was thankful to receive an opportunity to coach right out of high school and immediately fell in love with it. I Love the feeling of teaching someone something new and watching them apply it and succeed. As a volleyball player, I fell in love with the strategy and tactical aspects of the game and as a coach I get to explore and apply them to my teams.

Cory Hanson
14-1 Girls Head Coach
17-1 Girls Head Coach

Birthplace: Ventura, CA Hometown: Newbury Park, CA

Cory Hanson from Ventura has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach and develop the Volleyball program.  He graduated from Adolfo Camarillo High School in 2004 where he played forward for the varsity basketball team for a year and middle blocker/setter for the varsity volleyball team for two years.   With a handful of league and tournament championships under his belt, Cory also was honored with being selected for 1st Team All-League twice, 2nd Team All-Ventura, 2nd Team All-CIF in 2003, and 1st Team All CIF in 2004.  He then took his talents to Moorpark College where the team was California State Champions in 2005 and he was 1st Team All Western Conference in 2006.

If Cory could pattern his style of play after an athlete, it would be Lloy Ball because “not only was he an amazing athlete and player, but his presence on the court was something that I really admired.”  Cory has been coaching since 2005 when he was given the chance by a team he used to play for.  He enjoyed the challenges it brought and the ability to watch the young athletes grow and develop.  “I love coaching because I get to make a positive impact on the lives of the players I coach. I feel very lucky that I had some amazing coaches along the way that helped me grow not only on the volleyball court, but as a person as well and I strive to be a positive impact for the players.”

If you can’t find Cory coaching or playing, he is probably being active outdoors with friends and family. 

Danny Rodrick
Program Development Coordinator
16-2 Girls Head Coach

Birthplace: Lihue, HI
Hometown: Wailua, HI

Danny Rodrick from Wailua, Kuaui has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach and develop the Volleyball program.  He graduated from Kapa’a High School in 2007 where he was a four sport varsity athlete – setter for three years in volleyball, midfield for two years in soccer, singles and doubles for three years in tennis, and three years in track and field.  During this time, he was a two-time MVP/KIF player of the year and a Hawaii State champion in 2005.  He then took his talents to El Comino College and played under Richard Blount.  There he was 2nd team All-Western State Conference in 2008 and 1st team in 2009.  Danny finished his career out at Cal State Northridge under Jeff Campbell.

Ryan Denihan
15-1 Girls Head Coach

Birthplace: Glendale, CA
Hometown: Palatine, IL

Ryan Denihan from Palatine, Illinois has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach and develop the Volleyball program.  He graduated from Royal High School in 1997 where he was a four sport letterman – volleyball as a middle blocker, football as a corner/safety, basketball as a forward, and track and field participating in the 100/200/high jump/long jump.  During this time, he was the basketball team captain as well All-Area team and in volleyball he was All-League 1st team and All-Area 2nd Team in 96 as well as All-League, Area, CIF, and State 1st Team in 97.   He then took his talents to Cal State Northridge to play for Jeff Cambell and was a starter his freshman year.

Transitioning from playing to coaching was natural for Ryan.  He started in 1999 and got into it because he wanted to help younger players reach their goals.  “I wanted to pass on what I learned from all the coaches I ever had.  Plus, I still love the competition.  I truly enjoy each day I have the opportunity to coach.  There is so much to teach and even though I’ve been around the sport for over 20 years I’m still learning.  At the end of the day it’s about the kids and the experiences and lessons you help them get.” 

If Ryan could model his coaching style after someone, it wouldn’t be a famous athlete, it would be his mother, Sherry.  “She was the strongest person I ever met.  She taught me from a young age that life is going to be hard and to attack each day, each opportunity, and every obstacle with unflinching drive and determination. She drilled my intensity into everything I do.   She passed when I was 15, but every day I try to make her proud of what I do.”

When he’s not coaching, you can find Ryan being as active as possible with his two kids – Piper (2) and Logan (5) – and his wife.   

Sarah Wroblicky
12-1 Girls Head Coach

Birthplace: Irvine, CA
Hometown: Irvine, CA

Sarah graduated from Auburn University with a BA in Psychology and minor in business. She redshirted her 2009 season, was a defensive specialist in 2010, and was the starting libero on full scholarship for the 2011-2013 seasons. She finished her career with 1,238 digs to rank 5th in Auburn History. She was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week during her 2013 season and named into the 2013 SEC Community Service Team. She was a three-year selection to the  SEC Academic Honor Roll and was named an Academic Top Tiger three straight years. She earned the “100 percent” award for volleyball her sophomore year and was All-Tournament once in her 2012 season and three times in her 2013 season.

She has 9 years of coaching experience varying from clinics, camps and high school & club teams. She just completed her Masters in Coaching and Athletic Administration from Concordia University Irvine. Sarah is passionate about making a positive impact on the youth and is excited to help guide them towards success on and off the court.

Christine Yangson
15-1 Girls Assistant Coach

Birthplace: Granada Hills, CA
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Christine Yangson from Granada Hills has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach and develop the Volleyball program.  She graduated from Chaminade College Preparatory where she played varsity libero and outside hitter as well as ran varsity track and field, both for two years.  During her time on the volleyball team, Christine won Best Defensive Player in 2002.  She then took her talents to Moorpark College to play for Coach Burkhart, becoming WSC champs in 2003 and 2004.

Christine has been coaching for the past eleven years, but got into it by happenstance.  When an old high school coach was retiring from club, she was asked to take over and when she did, she fell in love with it.  She is passionate about coaching for two reasons.  The first is because “it’s interesting to learn and observe the different coaching styles/techniques needed to get positive results from the athletes.”  The second is “I love seeing the end result.  It’s fun to prepare the athletes for the next level and even more satisfying to see when they’ve hit their highest level of performance even after you had the opportunity to work with them.”

Paige Rasmussen
12-1 Girls Assitant Coach
Beach Assistant Coach

Birthplace: Woodland Hills, CA
Hometown: Thousand Oaks, CA

Paige Rasmussen from Woodland Hills has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach and develop the Volleyball program.  She graduated from Westlake High School in 2013 where she was a varsity libero for three years.  Her accomplishments include All-League honors, team MVP, and is the current record holder at Westlake in digs and aces.  She was also third in state for beach volleyball.

Paige has gone on to coaching in the last four years.  It all started with helping her brother, but the desire to spread the love of the game has pushed her to become the coach she is today.  If she could model her play and coaching style after an athlete, it would be Misty May.  And if you can’t find Paige on the court playing or coaching, her favorite thing to do in her downtime is work on her art.

Ron Higa
16-2 Girls Assistant Coach

Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA
Hometown: Newbury Park, CA

Ron is native resident of the Conejo Valley.  He has had a passion for the sport of volleyball for over 30 years. Ron started his coaching career at Mammoth High School in 1987.  Since then, he has coached at several high schools in the local area, Thousand Oaks, Westlake, Chaminade and Louisville. At the club level he has coached all levels of boys and girls. From 1994 to 1996, Ron was the assistant coach at California Lutheran University Women’s Volleyball.  In 1995, the Women’s team went to the NCAA Division III National Finals. 

In early 2016, Ron served as an assistant coach for Cal Lutheran’s inaugural Men’s NCAA Division III Volleyball team. Ron continues to coach for the men’s program.

Willow Markowitz
15-2 Girls Assistant Coach

Place of Birth: Tarzana, CA
Hometown: Calabasas, CA

Willow Markowitz from Calabasas has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach and develop the Volleyball program.  She graduated from Agoura High School in 2012 where she played varsity for two years as an outside hitter.  During her time there, Willow won the Coach’s Award in 2010 and CIF Honorable Mention in 2011.  Willow also played for multiple club teams growing up – Spectrum, Sports Shack (Gold Medal in Reno SCVA Junior Olympic Qualifiers), and LAVA.  After finishing high school, she then took her talents to Lewis-Clark State College and played under LaToya Harris.  There she was awarded Top 10 Aces in the NAIA in 2012. 

Willow then took her talents to coaching in 2015.  Suffering an unfortunate ACL tear in college, she directed her attention to coaching, allowing her the opportunity to “pass on my knowledge to others and leave a positive impact on their lives.”  If she could pattern her style of play/coaching after an athlete, it would be Kerri Walsh for her tenacity, passion, and love of the game.

If you can’t find Willow coaching, she is probably working out, playing indoor volleyball, or spending time with her family and friends.

Grace Rains-Turk
12-2 Girls Assistant Coach

Place of Birth: Newbury Park, CA
Hometown: Newbury Park, CA

Grace has been involved with volleyball for 10 years as a player, and this will be her 6th season as a coach. She has coached club for many years and has also recently coached JV boys volleyball at Moorpark High School as well the Frosh/Soph girls at Newbury Park High!

As a player, Grace successfully represented Newbury Park High School and Moorpark College as a setter. She received a scholarship to continue playing in North Carolina at Montreat College, but an injury cut her time short. Throughout her volleyball career, she has earned both academic and athletic recognition. To name a few: Principle Scholar Athlete (4.0 GPA), 1st team all tournament player, CIF scholar athlete, and MVOP. Grace also played several years of Club Volleyball.

“In reflecting on my volleyball career, and recognizing the positive difference volleyball has made in my life, I can’t wait to see that same passion develop in the girls we coach. I’m excited for a great season!”

Hylas Smith 
Boys Beach Master Coach

Birthplace: Ventura, CA
Hometown: Ventura, CA

Hylas Smith from Ventura has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach the Beach Volleyball program. He graduated from Buena High School in 2003, where he was a letterman in basketball for three years and volleyball for all four. A stand out for both teams, Hylas was a three-time all-league and all-county athlete as well as the 3-point shootout champion. In volleyball, he was also a three-time all-league and all-county athlete as well as the MVP all three years. He then played for Coach Winslow at Ventura College before taking his talents to Point Loma Nazarene University.

Upon graduation, Hylas couldn’t leave the sport. He went right into coaching. His passion for athletics and training the youth of tomorrow “is one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had.” He truly cares about teaching because it teaches the principles of life through sport. Things like commitment, dedication, responsibility, and teamwork all end up sticking with athletes for the rest of their lives because they learned them on the court. With over 30 NCAA Beach Volleyball athletes tracing their reasons for success back to Hylas Smith, he is excited to coach more athletes and help them achieve their dream.

Sierra Sanchez
Girls Beach Master Coach

Birthplace: Santa Clarita, CA
Hometown: Santa Clarita, CA

Sierra Sanchez from Santa Clarita has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach the Beach Volleyball program. She graduated from Valencia High School in 2013, where she was a three-year varsity standout. During her run, Sierra led her school to the first-ever Southern California High School Beach Volleyball championship, was named to the USA Beach Volleyball U19 A1 squad twice, was undefeated on the beach, and got second in state in 2013. She was also named All-Tournament at Nike Tournament of Champions, made the All-League team twice, and graduated with a 4.17 GPA.

Taking her talents to Florida State University, Sierra helped her team to at least a top 7 finish all four years, not to mention the national runner-up in 2014 and 2016. During that time, she was named CCSA pair of the week, all-tournament team, 2 time ACC All American honoree, holds the NCAA record for most digs in a match (32), and was team captain in 2017.

Now, as a coach, Sierra is passionate about developing the love for the game in the younger generation. “I love coaching because I think it’s so cool to be able to see other people become passionate about something that I love and is such a big part of my life. Seeing how much the game has grown is so awesome and I hope to be a part of that growth.”

Mel “Mel B” Brueckner
12-2 Girls Head Coach

Birthplace: Camarillo, CA
Hometown: Camarillo, CA

Melissa “Mel B” Brueckner from Camarillo has joined the Sports Academy team to help coach the Volleyball program. She graduated from Oaks Christian High School in 2013, where she was a middle blocker and right-side hitter. After receiving 2nd Team All-League honors in 2012, Mel B went to play for Steve Burkhart and Aaron Hedland at Moorpark College. Her level of play continued to improve as a starting freshman outside hitter. Her first year, Mel received the Most Improved Award and was 1st Team All-Conference. The following year, Mel was team captain, leader in kills, hitting percentage, and aces, 1st Team All-Conference, received the Coach’s Award, was Moorpark College Female Athlete of the Year, and was inducted into the Ventura County Sports Hall of Fame.
After hanging up her knee guards due to injury, Mel B naturally transitioned into coaching. Working with both club teams and La Reina High School, her passion for educating and inspiring young students shines through. “There is nothing I love more than pouring my knowledge and love of the game into kid’s lives. I take my coaching duties to a higher level by teaching these young girls, or boys, how to improve their social, mental, and physical skills. To me, it is not always about being the best player on the team, it’s about being the best version of yourself on and off the court.”

Eric Varney
17-1 Girls Assistant Coach

Birthplace: Oak Park, CA
Hometown: Oak Park, CA

Eric attended Oak Park High School and was a three year varsity starter from his sophomore to senior seasons. He earned All-League honors as a junior and a senior, along with being the team-captain. In 2008, Eric helped his team sweep the Tri-Valley League, clinching the Championship for the first time in school history. They went on to reach the CIF Division 4 Finals. In 2009, Eric was named Tri-Valley League Most-Valuable Player and First-Team All-CIF after his team repeated as the undefeated Tri-Valley League Champions and reached the CIF Division 3 Finals. His team would eventually qualify for the Regional State Playoffs for the first time in school history.

As a collegiate student-athlete, Eric spent time at several schools as a standout player. He attended Moorpark College for two years, earning his Associate’s Degree and playing on the Men’s Volleyball team. He was the starting libero for Moorpark College in 2010 and 2011, earning All-Conference honors for his freshman and sophomore seasons. His team took home the 2010 CCCAA State Championship, and Eric was the 2011 CCCAA State Leader in Digs and Digs Per Set. His community college athletic success allowed him the opportunity to get recruited by several NCAA division 1 schools.

Eric went on to play at Lewis University as their starting libero, where his team won the 2012 MIVA Conference Championship, earning a bid to the NCAA National Semifinals. The Flyers finished the season as a final-four nationally ranked division 1 team, and Eric earned the All-Time Career Record for Serve Reception Percentage at Lewis. Following his athletic experience he returned home to the Ventura County area, receiving his Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies from CSU Channel Islands and eventually his Substitute Teaching Credential.

Eric has been a volleyball coach in the area for nearly a decade, helping out at various local high schools and clubs. He has been a Head Coach for the past 5 years, and has coached at schools such as Newbury Park, Viewpoint, and most recently his alma mater, Oak Park. Eric is currently the Girls Varsity Assistant, and the Boys Varsity Head Coach for the Oak Park Eagles.

    

With Eric on staff as a coach, he has seen his teams place in the top 3 at 7 different high school tournaments, with 3 of those finishes being 1st place tournament championships. He has been apart of 10 different League Championship Seasons, with the last 7 of those teams being the Girls & Boys at Oak Park High School. As a club volleyball Head Coach, he has seen his teams place in the top 10 at 3 different national tournaments. In 2017, his boys team qualified for the Open Division at the Boy’s Junior National Championships in Columbus, Ohio, where they eventually took home the Flight 1 Division Championship. At Sports Academy, Eric is excited to continue his coaching career as an Indoor and Beach Volleyball Coach.

Kathleen Francis
18-1 Girls Assistant Coach

Birthplace: Woodland Hills, CA
Hometown: Simi, CA

Kathleen has 16 years of experience playing volleyball and 5 years experience coaching girls and boys. In high school, she spent three years on varsity at Royal High School as a starting outside hitter. During that time, she achieved multiple accomplishments including MVP of her team, as well as, of the Marmonte League her senior year. She still has a few standing records at the high school. After Royal, she played two years at Pierce College as a libero helping the team win its first two, back-to-back, State Championships. As a freshman at Pierce, she broke the California state record for aces in a season with her topspin jump serve and then beat her own record the following year as a sophomore then totaling roughly 200 aces in the two combined seasons. She was named 1st team All-American her sophomore year and MVP of the West Coast Conference. She then received a full scholarship to Gonzaga University where she finished out her collegiate career. Volleyball has always been one of her passions in life and she is excited to share that passion and knowledge with everyone she coaches.