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Volk promoted to replace Kuntz

Men's Soccer

Longtime UCI assistant will take over reigns of men's soccer program clearly on the rise.

December 23, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

The first time Chris Volk was a collegiate soccer rookie, he was the backup freshman goalkeeper on a San Diego State team that reached the 1987 NCAA championship game.

Volk became a rookie head coach on Monday when UC Irvine named the 17-year Anteaters assistant to replace departed George Kuntz as the school's men's soccer head coach.

"Was [the title-game loss to Clemson at Clemson] rookie-season luck? Possibly," said Volk, who takes the reigns for the first time in a college coaching career that includes 19 seasons in Division I. "It would be nice to have some success relative to that my rookie season as a head coach."

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One might do well not do doubt Volk, who was cut from the junior varsity team his freshman year at Westlake High, only to play four seasons at the school, later walk on at San Diego State, then play professionally, primarily in indoor leagues.

"The [high school junior varsity] coach didn't think I had the stature to play goal," said the 5-foot-11 Volk, who has tutored UCI goalkeepers, among other duties, since 1997. "But my teammates kind of lobbied with the coach and I got the opportunity to try out again. I made the team, played two years on the junior varsity and two years on the varsity.

"I've had to work for everything I've got in the game. I think that experience provided me with a little motivation and I think I've always had that hunger inside of me. It's there still, not to let anybody hold me back."

With Volk as the lead assistant to Kuntz, who left after 19 seasons on Dec. 16 to take over the program at Cal State Fullerton, the Anteaters have pushed forth onto the national landscape.

UCI has been to the NCAA Tournament four of the last six seasons, and has won four Big West Conference regular-season and tournament titles during that span. The 'Eaters have been to the NCAA Sweet 16 twice, including in 2013, when they finished 15-5-3 and were eliminated, 1-0, at eventual runner-up Maryland.

During that six-year span, the program is 80-37-14.

UCI ranked sixth nationally in goal-against average (0.63) in 2011 and Volk has mentored Big West Goalkeepers of the Year Kenny Schoeni and Andrew Fontain, both of whom went on to the professional ranks.

Volk was named Far West Region Assistant Coach of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Assn. of America in 2008, and is widely respected for his knowledge and professionalism.

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