USC-Upstate hires Shirley to lead volleyball program

USC-Upstate hires Shirley to lead volleyball program

Navarro College’s head volleyball coach Ronda Shirley has been named to the head coaching position The University of South Carolina Upstate Spartans volleyball team.

“While it is a major loss for Navarro College, we are very excited for Ronda and her family for this great career opportunity,” said Michael Landers, Athletic Director. “She changed the culture of our volleyball program the moment she stepped on campus and has set us up to continue to build on the success the program has had over the past two seasons.”

Shirley, an NJCAA Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Famer, takes over a struggling USC Upstate Spartan program that’s experienced 11 losing seasons in its first 12 of NCAA Division I volleyball as a member of The Big South Conference. The Spartanburg, SC, university enjoyed great success at NAIA and Division II levels, but its most successful D-I season since 2007 was a 15-15 finish in 2015.

Rebuilding projects are nothing new to Shirley, whose two Navarro teams went 65-19 with unprecedented successes after transforming the culture of a program that went 6-30 in 2016.

Last season, Shirley’s school-record-setting Bulldogs went 38-7, earned a program-high No. 3 ranking, claimed a No. 4 seed in their first-ever NJCAA Tournament and made an Elite-8 finish at Hutchinson, Ks. While Navarro volleyball soared among NJCAA Top-4 statistical rankings in eight categories, the Region XIV East regular-season champion Bulldogs recorded 27 victories by 3-0 sweeps. They gained eight all-conference honors, including three superlatives, plus one All-NJCAA Tournament selection and All-American designations from the NJCAA and the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

All that occurred one year after a 21-win improvement when Shirley’s 27-12 Bulldogs reached the 2017 Region XIV Tournament Semifinals and produced the school’s first NJCAA First-Team All-American.

Shirley, an Earling, La., native, has 585 career victories spanning a 19-year junior college coaching career at Hutchinson CC, KS., Tyler, and Navarro, and taken nine volleyball squads to NJCAA Tournaments. Eight of her teams advanced to national tournaments within an 11-year span (2004-2014).

In five Tyler seasons, her teams went 143-46, including a 102-18 mark in the final three years that were punctuated by consecutive 30-plus win campaigns, successive undefeated conference championships, 2 NJCAA Tournament appearances and one national runner-up finish.

Shirley has coached five conference Players of the Year and seven conference Freshmen of the Year. She also had 53 All-Conference, 36 All-Region and 15 All-American student-athletes. Her student-athletes have also excelled in the classroom leading to 12 Academic All-Americans.