By: Kenny Bybee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
HOUSTON - Rice head volleyball coach Genny Volpe announced on Thursday the hiring of Ariel Apolinario as the newest assistant coach on the Owls staff. Apolinario was previously an assistant coach at Ohio University.
"I'm very excited to be adding a coach of Ariel's caliber to our staff," Volpe said. "Ariel is not only a great coach and experienced recruiter, but an amazing person. His energy and enthusiasm for the game will add a lot to our program."
"I first want to thank everyone involved in the process," Apolinario said. "I'm grateful for my time at Ohio and will miss the people of Athens tremendously. Both professionally and personally, Rice University was a no-brainer during the process. Coach Volpe, alongside Zheng, have a rich and clear vision in regards to where this program is today and where they want to be in the near future. I have known Coach Volpe for quite some time now and have a great deal of respect for her and the way she has run her program over the many years she has been at the helm. Academically and athletically, I feel Rice is one of the finest programs in the country."
During his two years with the Bobcats, Apolinario assisted as defensive coordinator while also assisting in recruiting, scouting and in-season and out-of-season scheduling. Apolinario helped guide Ohio to a combined 48-14 record in his two seasons, which included a stellar 29-3 mark in the Mid-American Conference. In his tenure the Bobcats produced eight all-conference selections and 12 academic all-conference members.
This past season the Bobcats went 25-8 (13-3) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in school history before falling to BYU in the opening round.
In his first season with the Bobcats, Apolinario was a part of an Ohio team that went 23-6 overall and helped direct the program to its first 16-0 undefeated MAC season since 2006. The 2014 squad, who climbed as high as No. 24 in the nation in week 12, placed among the top 10 in seven program rally scoring era statistical categories.
Prior to his time in Athens, Apolinario served two seasons as an assistant coach at Austin Peay State University. In his two seasons at Austin Peay, Apolinario helped the Lady Govs to 30 overall wins and 19 conference victories. He also coached three players that earned All-Ohio Valley Conference honors.
As a competitor, Apolinario played two seasons at then-NAIA member Newman University before the program was dropped. He then transferred to Division II-member King University, where he was one of the founding members of the Tornado volleyball program. There, he was named the university's 2009-10 Male Athlete of the Year and was a first-team All-Carolinas Conference selection.
In addition to his assistant roles, Apolinario served as a head coach in the Northeast Tennessee Volleyball Club system for three seasons. He taught volleyball skills during summer team camps throughout Florida, Tennessee and Texas.
A native of Matanzas, Cuba, Apolinario earned his degree from King University in 2010.