UH-Hilo volleyball coach steps down
By Kalani Takase
Advertiser Staff Writer
University of Hawai'i-Hilo head women's volleyball coach Bruce Atkinson has stepped down from his post, Director of Athletics Dexter Irvin announced Sunday.
Atkinson, who compiled a 69-14 record in his three seasons with the Vulcans, told The Advertiser yesterday that he will take over as head coach of the Towson University women's program in Baltimore.
"I really loved my time here in Hilo and I will miss it here a lot, but the opportunity to coach at a quality Division I institution like Towson was a big draw," said Atkinson, who officially starts his new job Thursday.
Atkinson took over the UH-Hilo program in April of 2007 and led the Vulcans to 20-win seasons in each of his three years at the helm.
Despite a shortened recruiting season, Atkinson guided Hilo to a Pacific West Conference championship and 23-5 record in his first year. He was named PacWest Coach of the Year for his efforts.
In 2008, the Vulcans went 21-7 and finished second in the league. UHH carried a Top 20 ranking for much of the 2009 season, finished with a 25-2 record and made its first postseason appearance in over a decade as Atkinson again earned Coach of the Year honors.
"He brought Vulcan volleyball back to where it belonged and will leave behind a legacy of success on the floor, in the classroom and in the community," Irvin said.
A interim coach will be appointed soon and a national search will begin in the fall, according to Irvin.
"I feel that I'm definitely leaving the program in better shape than when I arrived," Atkinson said. "Recruiting has definitely become easier with the success that we've had and I think that the team is in good shape going into next season. With the right coach in place, the 2010 season could be Hilo's most successful."
The Vulcans return senior setter Katie Swenson, an honorable mention All-AVCA selection and PacWest Newcomer of the Year in 2009, and senior outside hitter Kawena Cubi-Otineru, who led the team with 3.14 kills per set and was a second-team All-PWC selection last year.
"The hardest part of this decision is leaving this team," Atkinson said. "I feel very close with all of them and that made it a very difficult decision."