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Eastern Washington volleyball coach Michael King, assistant dismissed

March 27, 2018 Updated Tue., March 27, 2018 at 6:34 p.m.

Michael King (EWU photo)
Michael King (EWU photo)

Eastern Washington volleyball coach Michael King and assistant Nathan Fristed have been relieved of their duties, interim athletic director Lynn Hickey said Tuesday.

Hickey offered no reason for the dismissals and declined to make additional comments, saying that the matter is a university personnel issue.

A source close to the program, however, cited King’s poor relations with his players during the last three seasons.

Player attrition has been heavy since 2015, when King was named head coach. Of the 15 non-seniors on the 19-player roster that year, four didn’t return in 2016.

Among them were middle blocker Haile Watson from Coeur d’Alene (now at Fresno State) and defensive specialist Sara Mackin from Gonzaga Prep.

More departures followed. Out of 13 non-seniors on the 2016 roster, seven left the program at the end of the year.

Eastern’s record has suffered. After going 14-14 overall in 2015 and 13-13 the following year, the Eagles fell last year to 7-18 overall and 4-12 in the Big Sky Conference.

The Eagles were down to 13 players last year, with five true freshmen, five transfers and two seniors – libero Megan LaFond and middle blocker Chloe Weber – who spent their entire careers at Eastern.

“It’s been a pretty ugly couple of years,” the source said.

Combined with the departure in January of assistant Diana Villalpando for another position, Tuesday’s dismissals leave the program without any coaches.

Hickey said that the program will be administered directly by the athletic department until a new head coach is named.

King was an assistant under Hall of Fame coach Pam Parks during the 1998, 1999 and 2002 seasons.

The Eagles went a combined 77-16 in those seasons, winning a Big Sky regular-season title in 2002 and advancing to the NCAA Tournament in 1998 and 1999.

King returned to Cheney in 2014, serving as interim head coach after Wade Benson was diagnosed with throat cancer.

King was named head coach in October 2015 after Benson stepped aside for health reasons.

Fristed, a longtime coach at the high school and club level, was hired in January to replace Tyler Fenton, who left last year after one season.

Fristed was a longtime assistant at the high school and club level before joining King’s staff.

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