Long Beach State fires women’s volleyball coach midseason – The562.org


Long Beach State athletic director Andy Fee made the rare decision Monday afternoon to fire women’s volleyball coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer and top assistant coach Matt Fuerbringer, five weeks before the end of the season . The move is effective immediately, and Fee said on Monday it was made due to performance issues – the first time he has made a mid-season coaching change for this reason.

“We have high expectations for women’s volleyball, and with the resources we provide, we think we should be very ambitious and aim for the stars,” he said. “A program with the heritage and tradition that this one has, we have to compete at the best year after year for a Big West championship, at the very least. The cap isn’t winning a Big West Championship, it’s the annual expectation.

This year, The Beach is 9-12, with a 3-7 conference record, making it 8th in the Big West. McKienzie-Fuerbringer was in his fifth season as head coach and was trying to revive the program after the Big West didn’t play last year due to COVID-19. Assistant coach Sabrina Hernandez will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season, and coaches from the beach volleyball and men’s volleyball programs are expected to assist with coaching duties.

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McKienzie-Fuerbringer’s contract was set to expire at the end of the calendar year, and it had been speculated that it would not be renewed given the team’s performance, finishing fourth or worse in the Big West each season. Fee said parting ways with a coach mid-season was a tough decision, especially as she was a veteran and former star player, but the team’s recent performance signaled a change. was needed.

“I’m grateful to Joy, she’s done a great job with the athletes as people and academically, but the flip side is competitiveness,” Fee said. “In five years, even with the COVID year, we haven’t gotten to where we wanted to be. I really mean it when I thank and acknowledge Joy and Matt and wish them all the best, they are great people and I have enjoyed working with them. I know they will continue to be successful with their club, but it’s time to turn the page and move in a new direction.

McKienzie-Fuerbringer is the manager of Mizuno Volleyball Club, one of the top clubs in the state. That connection was just one of the reasons Fee expressed excitement about hiring him, which he did five years ago as one of his first big steps as a manager. jock. But the level of talent hasn’t noticeably increased in the program over the past five years, and recent results have pushed Fee toward the midseason move.

On Friday night, the Beach lost at home to UC Riverside for the first time in program history. LBSU had been 50-4 all-time against UC Riverside, including 16 straight wins dating back to 2011. At the time they beat the beach, Riverside was winless in the Big West. On Saturday, the night after the Riverside loss, the team was swept at home by UC Davis, a team that was 2-7 in the Big West at the time.

Fee said with Long Beach State being one of the best-funded volleyball programs in the Big West, he expects a competitive schedule. The Beach has won five national titles in program history and is in the top ten in total wins in NCAA history with 1,252. The program has had six national player of the year awards and qualified eight times for the NCAA Final Four.

It should be noted that the slide in national prominence had begun before McKienzie-Fuerbringer was hired. Even under Hall of Fame coach Brian Gimmillaro, who won three NCAA titles and retired five years ago, the program hadn’t survived the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. for several years. With the Power Five conferences pouring more and more money into women’s volleyball, the sport became increasingly dominated by the soccer powerhouses, something Gimmillaro repeatedly pointed out towards the end of her tenure.

McKienzie-Fuerbringer said Monday she disagreed with Fee’s decision.

“I’m very disappointed with Andy Fee’s decision to let us go mid-season,” she said. “I understand we have to win, but his mission statement for LBSU athletics to give the student-athlete the best possible experience is not supported by letting your staff go mid-season. I know our players will play hard for interim coach Sabrina Hernandez and have a successful second half of the conference. We will support and encourage them. I am grateful for the opportunity given to me to work with these student-athletes and salute the work they have provided after a difficult year for everyone.

Long Beach State will immediately begin a nationwide search for a replacement, but likely won’t move to a slate of finalists or interviews until the end of the season after the NCAA Tournament.


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