When Bill Ferguson inherited the USC men’s volleyball team in May 2006 after acting as their assistant coach the previous season, the squad was coming off an 11-18 record and feeling a little discouraged. Yet in the past six seasons, Ferguson has managed to turn things around. Every year since, the Trojans have made the MPSF tournament and three times they’ve fought all the way to the Final Four. The only empty spot still left on Ferguson’s trophy shelf is made by the absent championship trophy; the trophy that UC Irvine has snatched away from the eager Trojans twice in the past four years.
This season, Ferguson’s team had a record of 24-6, which brings Ferguson’s overall record with the USC program to 109-64. He collected his 100th career win on March 16 of this season when the Trojans swept UC Santa Barbara in three sets. And let’s not forget that Ferguson’s 2012 team made it all the way to the championship match after losing four of their 2011 starters and receiving the only at-large bid to the four-team tournament.
Players seem to adore Ferguson, who they sometimes call “Fergie.” They say he’s the perfect combination of relaxed and funny, but serious and dedicated when he needs to be. Perhaps it is this calm and collected aura that has allowed him to resuscitate the struggling USC program and bring it back to its former glory. But no matter how he does it, Ferguson’s Trojans are sure to be a force to reckon with for years to come.
In the ten years that John Speraw has been the head coach of the UC Irvine Anteaters, he has led the program to three national championship titles. The first, in 2007, made Speraw one of only two men ever to have won the title as a player, assistant, and head coach (the other being Rod Wilde). This year’s squad accumulated an impressive 26-5 record and won the championship match against USC in three sets. Speraw also mentored two First-Team All-Americans, Carson Clark and Kevin Tillie.
Rumors have been flying that Speraw is the number-one choice to replace Al Scates at UCLA. A former middle blocker and four-year Bruins assistant coach, he seems a logical choice but has yet to comment on the possibility. A future ambition he isn’t shy about, however, is his intention to someday be the head coach of the U.S. National Team. He was the assistant coach of the 2008 men’s team that clinched the gold medal in Beijing and continues to coach for Team USA, so this isn’t unlikely either. No matter where he goes, it’s clear he’ll make a big impact and Speraw-coached super-athletes will continue to pop up all over the sport.
Originally published in July 2012