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Kniffin named new men's volleyball coach at UCI

Former player and assistant takes over Anteaters program, which won NCAA title last season and lost Speraw to UCLA.

July 09, 2012|By Steve Virgen
(Courtesy of UC Irvine )

For so many years it had seemed John Speraw would leave UC Irvine to become the coach at UCLA, where he would succeed Al Scates.

While the speculation took place and the feeling that Speraw's departure from the Anteaters was inevitable, David Kniffin always thought about becoming the next UCI men's volleyball coach.

"I truthfully felt like I could be the person," Kniffin said of his thoughts of taking over at UCI when all that speculation took place. "That's the reason more than any that I jumped on it."

Kniffin now has the opportunity. Kniffin, 31, a former assistant coach and player for the Anteaters, has been named the new men's volleyball coach at UCI.

This will be his first head coaching job on the collegiate level. He takes over for Speraw, who led the Anteaters to three national titles in his 10 years as coach. The three championships came in the past six years.

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If 31 seems young, Speraw was hired as the UCI coach when he was 28.

Kniffin has goals to continue the winning tradition.

"I know it's a little strong, but I'd like to demonstrate that UCI is an institution that wins championships," Kniffin said. "We have a group of great guys. We have the opportunity to demonstrate who we are as a program right now.

"The overarching coach goal is to the help each one be the best they can be. They come to learn, they come for the social scene, they come for the whole package. And I'm excited to teach them."

Kniffin last coached at the University of Illinois, where he worked as an assistant and helped lead the women's volleyball team to the NCAA title match in 2011 for the first time in school history.

"We are very excited to have David Kniffin back with the Anteater family," UCI Athletic Director Michael Izzi said in a press release. "David's deep passion for UC Irvine and the men's volleyball program is what ultimately made him the right choice to continue the success the program has achieved. The program is in good hands with David Kniffin."

Kniffin beat out Karch Kiraly, the big name among the finalists.

Familiarity with the UCI program certainly did not hurt Kniffin's cause. He spent five seasons (2007-2011) as an assistant coach under Speraw with the UCI men. He was an American Volleyball Coaches Assn Division I-II Men's National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010.

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