Jan. 8, 2014
HOUSTON, Texas – Rice head volleyball coach Genny Volpe announced on Wednesday the hiring of Zheng Xiang as the newest assistant coach on the Owls staff. Xiang was previously a volunteer assistant at Texas A&M (2013) after spending five years (2008-12) on the UTSA Roadrunners staff as an assistant coach.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have Zheng join our staff,” Volpe said. “He is very experienced and will bring a lot to our program, both on the court and behind the scenes. He has a great work ethic, is bright and energetic and has a true love for the sport of volleyball. We are excited to bring someone like him on board and I know he will do great things here at Rice.”
While at Texas A&M the Aggies went 19-12 in 2013 and 10-8 in the SEC, before falling to No. 1 seed Texas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Xiang coached three Aggies to SEC honors.
Xiang was hired by UTSA in August 2008 as an interim assistant coach before being promoted to a full-time assistant four months later.
Xiang helped guide the Roadrunners to a 21-9 record in his final season at UTSA, the team's first season in the WAC. That season McKenzie Adams was named the WAC Player of the Year. Adams was one of five players to earn postseason accolades. Freshman Annie Kunes was tabbed WAC Libero of the Year and was joined on the second team by senior Whitney Walls and junior Brandy Huskey, while Kunes and Kylie Schott were selected to the All-Freshman Team.
Through Xiang's first four years at UTSA he oversaw 17 players earn All-Southland Conference accolades, including 11 first-teamers and two-time Libero of the Year Kelsey Jewasko (2008 & '10), 2011 Newcomer of the Year McKenzie Adams, 2011 Setter of the Year Kelsey Schwirtlich and 2010 Tournament Most Valuable Player Kendra Rowland.
In 2011 the Roadrunners won 22 matches for a second-straight season and advanced to the Southland Tournament Championship Match for the second consecutive season. During the campaign, UTSA swept a program-record 12 consecutive opponents. The Roadrunners also boasted a league-high four first-team All-Southland selections, while Jewasko earned a pair of Academic All-America honors and became the program's all-time leader in digs.
In 2010, UTSA posted 22 victories, won the Southland Tournament Championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in program history. Five players garnered all-conference laurels, including Jewasko, Rowland and Schwirtlich, who all were first-team honorees.
Playing arguably the most difficult schedule in program history, UTSA won a dozen matches in 2009 and three players -- Whitney Walls (second team), Jewasko (honorable mention) and Rowland (honorable mention) -- earned All-Southland accolades.
Xiang helped lead the Roadrunners to a 19-12 overall record and 11-5 mark in league play in his first season. Stefanie Robbins and Jewasko were named Southland Newcomer and Libero of the Year, respectively. Meanwhile, Rowland and Jewasko were named to the conference's first team and Amber Brooks joined Robbins as an honorable mention selection.
The Chicago native came to UTSA from St. Edward's University in Austin, where he spent the previous two seasons as an assistant. He mentored the Hilltoppers' outside hitters and liberos and also was the program's recruiting, travel and academic coordinator.
Xiang earned his bachelor's degree in business from Indiana in 2000 and a MBA in marketing from Texas' McCombs School of Business in 2006.
He has six years of playing experience at the outside hitter and libero positions. Xiang was a member of Indiana's club team from 1997-2000 and was the squad's captain his final season. He also played for two years at Texas, where he earned first-team All-Southern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association honors in 2006.