The Daily Courier
After an exhaustive two-month search, the Yavapai College Athletic Department on Wednesday named Zach Shaver, a former NCAA Division II lead mentor, as the Roughrider volleyball program's new coach.
Shaver replaces Matt Cohen, who departed in mid-January following six seasons at the YC helm to accept a similar position at St. Johns River State College in Palatka, Fla.
Yavapai College Athletic Director Brad Clifford said Shaver, a California native, has extensive collegiate coaching experience. Shaver will start on April 1, at which time a press conference will take place on YC's Prescott campus.
Shaver said in a phone interview Wednesday that he and Yavapai assistant coach Mandy Mellencamp have already been discussing recruiting and retention of players.
"Recruiting is definitely the first focus and, along with that, getting to know the current players, especially those that are going to be sophomores next year," he said. "When I get there in a couple weeks, getting to know them and their personalities and what they can physically do on the court, and getting to know their strengths and weaknesses, will probably be just as high a priority as the recruiting."
A hiring committee chose Shaver on Tuesday after an exhaustive meeting.
"We had some really good candidates, and we are excited about what Zach will bring to our volleyball program," Clifford said. "We just felt that Zach brought a little bit more of what we needed here at Yavapai College to the table."
Shaver, 41, most recently served as head coach at NCAA D-2 Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he compiled a 117-121 overall record from 2006-12.
During his seven-year tenure there, Shaver's teams reached the NCAA tournament twice. In addition, his squads earned the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award for five straight seasons and AVCA Team Academic Award honors for a handful of campaigns.
"I like where he's been, and I like the success he's had at places," Clifford said. "He's been at a small environment, much like ourselves, and has been able to succeed at those levels. He also has collegiate experience as far as the recruiting goes, and he also brings a little bit more as far as strength and conditioning."
Prior to IUP, Shaver had stints as an assistant coach at NCAA D-1 Texas State University and NCAA D-2 Chico State University in Northern California, where he was an interim head coach for a short period.
As an assistant at Texas State, Shaver helped guide that program to back-to-back NCAA national tournament appearances.
Shaver, who should eventually replace Clifford as Yavapai's sports information director, hopes to build on what Cohen achieved.
"The next step that we're looking forward to is going deeper into the postseason," Shaver said. "The team's always been strong."
In six seasons with the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division 1 Roughriders, from 2007-12, Cohen led Yavapai to an overall record of 124-88 (.585 win percentage).
Cohen coached 15 All-Arizona Conference players, eight NJCAA Region I athletes, five NJCAA Academic All-Americans, and one NJCAA All-American in former outside hitter Haley Schackelford (2009-10).
For 2013, Yavapai should return seven players who were freshmen last fall. Cohen said in January that the next coach would have to fill five to six roster spots.
Yavapai reached the NJCAA Region I playoffs only once under Cohen, in 2009. That year, the Roughriders lost the region title match to Arizona Conference power Eastern Arizona in straight sets, 20-25, 14-25 and 19-25.
In 2012, Yavapai fared well with a 27-6 overall record, despite failing to qualify for the postseason. The Roughriders achieved a ranking as high as No. 19 in the NJCAA D-I Top 20 poll before dropping out at the end of the campaign.