December 20, 2012 | Vol. 116 -- No. 35

Wade Benson returns to Eastern as volleyball coach

Benson led Eagles to six-consecutive 20-wins seasons, three Big Sky regular-season titles and a second-round appearance in the 2001 NCAA tournament

Wade Benson is returning to familiar territory.

Wade Benson

The man who made history during his his seven seasons as head volleyball coach at Eastern Washington University will return to that position it was announced Tuesday, Dec. 18.

Benson replaces interim head coach Lisa Westlake, who had stepped in after former head coach Miles Kydd resigned in August.

“We are very excited to welcome coach Benson back into the Eagle family,” EWU athletics director Bill Chaves said in a news release. “He has been a tremendously successful head coach at every school.”

Benson was the head coach at Eastern from 2000-06, compiling an impressive record of 154-55 (.737) - the best winning percentage of any coach in school history.

“What he was able to previously accomplish in the Big Sky speaks for itself,” Chaves said. “We look forward to our program again being very competitive year in and year out under his leadership.”

Benson led the Eagles to six-consecutive 20-win seasons, three Big Sky regular-season titles and one tournament title in 2001. The Eagles played in the Big Sky Championship match each of his seven years at the helm.

"I am very honored that the administration chose me to help Eastern Washington once again compete for Big Sky Championships, as well as NCAA berths," Benson said. "There is a lot of work to be done, but I am very excited about the opportunity."

Benson left Eastern following the 2006 season for an assistant coaching position at Auburn. After one year with the Tigers, he was promoted to head coach. In just three seasons at the helm, Benson took Auburn from a 6-25 team in 2008 to a national-tournament contender in 2010 with 21-13 record.

After earning the automatic bid to the NCAA National Championship in 2001 at EWU, Benson’s team upset Oregon State, 3-2, in the first round to advance to the second round of the tournament, which is still the best postseason run by any team in Big Sky history.

In 2002, Benson directed the Eagles to a 29-2 overall record, which remains as the best single-season record of any Big Sky team throughout history. That year, the Eagles also made the USA Today/AVCA Division I Top 25 poll for the first time, and earned a ranking as high as No. 15 in the nation.

Benson's teams at Eastern Washington also experienced success in the classroom. Five of Benson’s squads received the AVCA Team Academic Award, while his players were honored 59 times on the Big Sky All-Academic list.

He had an impressive 60-9 home record while at EWU.

Prior to his coaching positions at the Division I level, Benson was the head coach at Western Oregon for one year where his team won a conference regular-season and tournament titles, and went on to finish third in the 1995 NAIA National Championship.

Benson and his wife, Jill, have a 9-year-old son, Brady Jaymz, and a 7-year-old daughter, Bailey Marie.

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