Entering 2013, her 10th season at Rice, Genny Volpe has established the Owl volleyball program as a power in the Southwest. The Owls, with Volpe as head coach, have now been to three NCAA championships (2004, 2008, and 2009), the only three appearances in Rice's history.
Volpe, the 2008 Conference USA Coach of the Year, coached teams that earned at-large berths to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and 2008, and a team that won an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the 2009 C-USA Tournament Championship. Under Volpe, the Owls have compiled a 166-111 (.599) record, finishing in the top four of their conference five times, including three second-place finishes (2004, 2011 and 2012).
While at the helm for the Owls, she has coached eight All-Americans, and 28 all-conference selections. Under Volpe, Rice players have recieved a C-USA Player of the Week award 40 times since joining the league in 2005.
A standout setter at Texas A&M, Volpe has seen three of her setters at Rice lead the league in assists per set, and has had helped two of her players earn C-USA Setter of the Year honors, Meredith Schamun in 2009 and Megan Murphy in 2012.
Success for Volpe's athletes is not limited to the volleyball floor, as 11 Owls have been tabbed as C-USA All-Academic Team selections, since the start of that honor in 2006. In addition, Jessica Boulavsky was named to the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team in 2009.
The Owls are coming off back-to-back second place finishes in Conference USA, and have won 37 matches over the past two seasons. Rice went 19-12 in 2012, and were led by four All-C-USA selections, including Rice's first three-time All-American, Nancy Cole, and C-USA Setter of the Year, Megan Murphy. Rice posted a 12-4 Conference USA mark in 2012, including a 7-1 record at home.
Rice had two chances to pull off a major upset in the span of 24 hours in 2012, with the Owls taking a 2-1 lead against then-No. 7 Purdue, before falling in five sets, and hit .358 against then-No. 12 Washington, the highest that any squad hit against the Huskies, but narrowly fell in each of the three sets.
The 2012 season also marked the first time that Volpe faced off against one of her former assistants, with Trent Herman visiting Tudor Fieldhouse as head coach of Houston Baptist, after spending 2004-07 as an assistant to Volpe at Rice.
The 2011 edition saw Rice with an 18-13 overall mark and a 13-7 second-place record in Conference USA. The Owls also produced AVCA All-America Honorable Mentions Cole and redshirt-sophomore Murphy. Cole was a first-team All-C-USA honoree, while Murphy was a second-team pick. Freshman Jillian Humphrey was selected to the All-C-USA Freshman squad.
Dating back to 2008, the Owls have posted five straight .500-or-better seasons, finished in the top four of C-USA four times, and made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
Volpe By The Numbers: 166
Player of the Week Selections
C-USA All-Academic Selections
NCAA Tournament Appearances
During 2009, the Owls won their first-ever conference championship when they defeated Tulsa 3-2, to earn Conference USA's NCAA automatic bid. Rice also sported a final RPI ranking of 37, its highest ever, out of 330 institutions, to lead C-USA. In 2009, Rice produced the C-USA Setter of the Year in Meredith Schamun and the C-USA Libéro of the Year in Tracey Lam. Those two along with Ashleigh McCord and Natalie Bogan were All-C-USA First Team selections as well as AVCA All-America Honorable Mentions. Volpe also collected match victory number 100 with a 3-1 win at UAB on Sept. 28, 2009.
In 2008, Rice posted a 23-7 overall record, while winning a school-record 12 of 16 matches in C-USA play that placed them third in the standings, their highest finish to date. The Owls also cleaned up several C-USA awards. Tracey Lam was named as the league's Libero of the Year, while Karyn Morgan, Meredith Schamun, and Natalie Bogan were selected to the C-USA First Team. Lam and Jessica Holderness were named to the C-USA Second Team, while Ashleigh McCord made the C-USA All-Freshman Team.
In 2004, her first season at Rice, Volpe led the Owls to a 25-5 overall record and the team's first ever NCAA tournament appearance. Volpe's squad finished the season with marks in the top 30 nationally in assists per game, blocks per game, kills per game, and hitting percentage. The Owls were ranked 15th in the nation in assists and kills, recording 15.54 assists per game and 16.9 kills per game. Even more impressive is the fact that the Owls were competitive with the very best teams in the nation, taking then third-ranked Hawaii to four games on the Wahine's home court and forcing a fifth game against then top-ranked Minnesota.
Prior to the 2004 season, only eight Owls had ever been named to the All-WAC team, but in 2004 six Owls received All-WAC honors. Rebecca Pazo, Olaya Pazo, Hoban, and Kuykendall were named to the first team and Lindsay Carter and Rebecca Kainz were selected for the second team. Rebecca Pazo was also an AVCA all-region honorable mention recipient, the first Rice player to receive this honor since 1995. Kuykendall was fifth in the nation in blocks with 1.74 blocks per game.
Volpe started her career by winning Rice's first 14 home games, including all 11 home contests in 2004. In total Volpe's teams have an 88-45 record while playing at home.
In her tenure at Rice, Volpe has coached the Rice career leaders in kills (Rebeca Pazo, 1969), assists (Meredith Schamun, 5190), digs (Tracey Lam, 2399), and blocks (Tessa Kuykendall, 546).
Volpe spent the three seasons prior to her arrival at Rice as an assistant coach at Texas A&M, where the Aggies tallied a 70-26 overall record and appeared in the NCAA tournament each season. Texas A&M went 23-10 in 2003 and advanced to the NCAA regional semifinal where the Aggies lost to eventual national champion USC. The Aggies finished the 2003 season ranked 16th in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) poll, and tied for third in the Big 12 with a 13-7 conference record.
The Aggies' 2001 season, Volpe's first as an A&M assistant, was special for the San Antonio native not only because she was returning to her alma mater or because A&M continued its succession of NCAA appearances that began her senior year, but also because one of her protégés, setter Jenna Moscovic, became only the second Aggie in A&M volleyball history to earn first-team all-America honors from the AVCA. In addition, A&M ended the season ranked second in the nation in both assists and kills per game.
Prior to Volpe's three years in College Station she was at Southern Methodist University, where she served as the first assistant coach and recruiting coordinator when the volleyball program began in 1996. After posting a 7-24 record in their inaugural season, the Mustangs went 15-19 in 1997, winning their quadrant in the Western Athletic Conference and qualifying for the WAC tournament. In only its fourth year of existence, the SMU volleyball team achieved its first 20-win season, going 20-13 and placing an all-time high fourth in the conference standings.
This is actually Volpe's second coaching stint at Rice, as she spent the 1995 season as an assistant under Henry Chen. She helped direct the Owls to their first postseason bid as they were selected to play in the NIVC tournament. Prior to her earlier days at Rice, Volpe served as student assistant coach under the Corbellis at A&M in 1994 as the Aggies made their second consecutive NCAA tournament appearance and advanced to the second round.
An all-around talented athlete, Volpe was a four-year letterwinner as a setter and outside hitter at Texas A&M from 1990-93. She quickly developed into one of the best defensive players in the Southwest Conference and led the Aggies in digs for three consecutive seasons. A two-year team captain, Volpe capped her stellar A&M playing career by leading the Aggies to a 27-8 record and the second round of the NCAA tournament as a senior.
Volpe's name is still scattered throughout the A&M record books and she remains the Aggie all-time record holder for most matches played (140) and most games played (488). In addition, she is ranked third in career digs (1,403), seventh in career service aces (123) and eighth in career assists (2,309).
A member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association, she is beginning her sixth term as a member of the AVCA top 25 poll. She served as the Conference USA coaches chair for volleyball for two years (2005-06). As such she worked with the league office on issues pertaining to volleyball, led coaches meetings, and assured her peers remained informed concerning C-USA rules and regulations.
While competing in the 2002, USA volleyball national tournament, she was named to the all-tournament team after leading Texas Advantage to a third-place finish at the USA Volleyball Open Women's AA Gold Division national championship. Volpe also was named all-tournament in 2000, as her team captured the Women's AA Gold Division national title, and in 1997, she was named All-American first team at the U.S. Open tournament after her team finished runner-up in the Women's Open Gold Division.
Volpe received a bachelor's degree in kinesiology from Texas A&M in 1995 and a master's degree in liberal arts from SMU in 1999. Genny and her husband John Volpe have a son, John Joseph (9), and a daughter, Alice Marie (6).