PULLMAN – Minutes after being introduced Tuesday, Washington State’s new volleyball coach walked into Bohler Gym and started practice with his new team.
Andrew Palileo’s mission was clear: to instill a new system for the Cougars women. A sped-up, one-on-one playing philosophy that, he said, could give WSU a shot at competing in the volleyball powerhouse that is the Pac-10.
“It’s important for us to make sure that we utilize the talent that we have,” Palileo said after a news conference, as his new players went to their locker room to change for practice. “We’re going to be bringing in a new system than what they’ve been doing the last four years.
“And we talked about that with the team in the team meeting, and they’re looking forward to it and excited about it.”
WSU announced Palileo’s hiring Tuedsay after a nationwide search started when former Cougars coach Brian Heffernan resigned in February.
The university found Palileo at South Dakota State, where he led the Jackrabbits to 154-67 record in seven seasons.
In his first season there, Palileo’s team advanced to the NCAA Division II tournament’s Elite Eight. The Jacks athletic program has since moved into the Division I ranks, with volleyball competing as a Division I member the past two seasons, including one year as an independent.
“Andrew has done tremendous things for our program and also with the type of athlete he brought to the program,” said Fed Oien, South Dakota State’s athletic director. “We have had extremely high academic success in the program, and they’re tremendous women who will go on to great careers in their professions.”
Palileo brought with him new associate head coach Brian Lamppa and assistant coach TeAna Crutcher-Tramel.
As the head coach at South Dakota – not to be confused with South Dakota State – Lamppa turned around the program and registered a 75-73 record. South Dakota qualified for the Division II championship in 2004 and 2007.
Crutcher-Tramel was head coach and assistant athletic director at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan., for two years.
“What I thought was important for us is, as a new coaching staff coming in, we have to come in knowing what we want to do,” Palileo said, “and not have to train (coaches), because I’m already going to have to train 12 to 14 players of what we want to do.”
Palileo (pronounced paw-lee-lay-oh) was born in Hawaii and went to college at Crown College in St. Bonifacius, Minn., before earning a master’s degree at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn.
He went on to coach volleyball at Bethel, where he had an 85-53 record, and has coached club teams in South Dakota and Minnesota.
“The biggest thing that Hawaii players have is their volleyball IQ,” Palileo said. “So they might not be very big or strong, but they just know how to move along the floor and those kinds of things. So that’s how it’s kind of influenced me – it’s defense-oriented.”
Jackie Albright, a WSU left-side hitter, said that philosophy should fit the Cougars well.
“We’re a little bit smaller physically in the Pac-10,” Albright said, “and I think he just wants us to out-quick the other teams rather than out-muscle them.”
In the past four years under Heffernan, Washington State played to a 39-87 record and a last-place conference finish last season. The Cougars have been practicing as normal this spring, coached by former assistant coaches Ken Ko and Gretchen Killebrew.
Now looking for new jobs, Ko and Killebrew have contracts that will pay them through June, said WSU athletics director Jim Sterk.