Allen ready for 2nd season as head coach

Adam Tumino, Volleyball Reporter

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Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News
Eastern head coach Julie Allen observes senior Katie Sommer during a drill in practice on Wednesday. The Panthers are preparing for the regular season opener on Aug. 30 in Lantz Arena.

The season opener for the Eastern volleyball team will be the 44th in the program’s history. It will be the second opener for head coach Julie Allen.

She was named head coach last January, bringing with her 14 years of experience as an assistant coach at programs across the country.

She began her coaching career at Chico State in her home town of Chico, California. She then went on to coach at Georgetown, Arkansas State, UTEP and Wichita State.

Allen said that she picked up useful experience as an assistant coach, and as a result she knew what kind of head coach she wanted to be.

“I think having that even-keeled manner worked really well for me as an assistant coach,” Allen said. “Talking to (the players) as student athletes and learners of the game has helped me understand, as a head coach, if I can keep a calm exterior, they’re going to understand and process things much faster.”

In her first season, the Panthers went 10-21 overall with a 5-11 record in the OVC. They finished the season tied for ninth in the conference.

The Panthers had a chance to finish eighth in the standings, and thus earn a spot in the OVC Volleyball Championship. But they lost their final three matches, and their seeding was determined by the results of other matches.

“We were a little frustrated,” Allen said. “I think we’re bitter about it, in the sense that we let somebody else control our future. I’m excited to learn from that lesson as a group and how we can control what we want to control and take matters into our own hands. The conference tournament is what matters most to us.”

But as an assistant, Allen said she learned that results must be sustainable as well as attainable.

“Of course, every coach wants to win,” Allen said. “But its important for me to make sure that we develop the right culture.”

Many of the programs Allen coached at in the past were also attempting to create a culture of success.

Georgetown was winless the season Allen joined the staff, and then posted back-to-back seasons of eight wins.

During the five seasons she was at UTEP, the team posted back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 15 years.

At Wichita State, Allen coached for a program who seemingly had a solid foundation in place. In her first season there in 2016, the Shockers went 24-8 and 15-3 in conference play. The following year they went 29-4, also posting a perfect conference record of 20-0.

Allen said she sees the start of a similar foundation at Eastern.

“Our record (last season) was not ideal,” Allen said. “But we started such a great foundation, and the expectations have not only helped us elevate this year, but I’m looking forward to producing more results that we want.”

Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]