Before Bielema left there was just one vacancy and it was kind of a surprising one as Pete Waite, a coach who had the Badgers at the highest of highs in the NCAA Volleyball world, resigned in late November. Fast forward an entire month and Barry Alvarez has his man. On Friday the athletic department announced the hiring of Kelly Sheffield as it's 10th Volleyball head coach.
Sheffield comes to Wisconsin after a very successful stint at the helm of the Dayton Flyers program for the past five years.
“Kelly has had great success in leading his Dayton teams to the top of the Atlantic 10 Conference and into the NCAA tournament,” said Alvarez in a statement released by the school. “Wisconsin has the resources to be a premier volleyball program and we’re looking forward to Kelly leading our team back to the top of the Big Ten and into the NCAA tournament.”
Under Sheffield's direction the Flyers have won 4 Atlantic-10 titles and has made 5 straight NCAA tournament appearances. This past season the Flyers were a perfect 14-0 in conference play and finished the season ranked 19th.
“The University of Wisconsin is one of the elite jobs in our sport,” said Sheffield in the school release. “Because of the conference, the academics, the administrative and fan support, and the facilities, it is a place where you can compete and win at the highest level.
“As I went through this process, it became clearer and clearer that everyone at Wisconsin has a strong desire to return to a championship level, and that absolutely fired me up.”
Wisconsin fans can expect a coach that will play to the strength of the players he has on his team, but also look for this team to put a huge emphasis on doing the basics right every time.
"We'll set up a system that plays to the players' strengths, while understanding that teams that serve tough and control the ball are usually the ones that win," said Sheffield. "Off the court, we want our players to embrace the fact that they are leaders, and on the court, hopefully we are inspiring others with how we compete together."
For Sheffield it's all about the fact that Wisconsin competes in the best volleyball conference in the country and that adds an ability to access the NCAA tournament if you are successful enough in conference play. However, what are the immediate goals in front of his new team at the UW?
"The goal is to compete for Big Ten championships — as it should be at Wisconsin," Sheffield stated. "If you are competing for Big Ten championships, that puts you in the top echelon of teams in the country, and that's where we want to be. But there's also a clear understanding that you have to immerse yourself in the process of getting better — that's where the daily focus has to be."
Sheffield will welcome the nation's No. 1 recruit to the fold for this next season, so that should help him in building a great program once again. After all, Wisconsin hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 2007, over a half a decade.