Saturday, December 02, 2006

Stevenson stays true to his word

Cal Poly volleyball coach Jon Stevenson was so frustrated by Saturday’s second-round NCAA Tournament loss to Cal that he initially refused to speak with the media afterward.
After some prodding by athletic director Alison Cone and Co., the fiery coach (and beach volleyball coverboy in this June 1988 Volleyball Monthly) eventually spoke at a mandated news conference, discussing the disappointment that came with the 30-24, 30-26, 23-30, 30-20 downfall in Mott Gym.
Following a few therapeutic responses about his team’s breakdowns, Stevenson was able to reflect on what has been a pretty remarkable turnaround for his program.
Cal Poly’s second-year coach needed just those two years to turn a 5-24 program into a NCAA Tournament team.
Not that it caught anyone by surprise.
Stevenson did the same thing at St. Mary’s from 2002-04, taking a five-win program — which had just one winning season in 15 years — to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
He even pulled off a turnaround at Sonoma State from 2000-01, needing just two seasons to turn a 6-20 program into a 22-11 team ranked in the top 10 of Division II's Pacific Region.
On Friday, Cal Poly joined the turnaround club, beating Michigan for its first NCAA Tournament victory at home since 1989.
It was the same reversal of fortunes Stevenson predicted at the same podium in February 2005 when he was announced as the program’s next head volleyball coach.
“I have no doubt, with the will of these young student-athletes here,” he said at the time, “and that drive that I have and the nice facet I'm going to put together, that we are going to be able to do the same thing here.”

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