Women's volleyball new coaching staff shares past experience
First-year head coach Kelli Miller will have some familiar company on the sideline for Ball State women's volleyball this season--she'll be working with assistant coach Tiffany Fisher, a teammate from her playing days.
Prior to their coaching careers, Miller and Fisher played collegiate volleyball at Purdue University. They only played together for one season, when Miller was a senior and Fisher was a freshman, but Miller said the shared experience put them on the same page.
“I think it helps that we come from a similar background as far as philosophies go," Miller said. "We’ve learned how to train, what it takes to compete and good work ethics, which makes up a good foundation. We’re trying to show our athletes gym culture, attitude and competitiveness.”
Rewarded Thirty under 30 award
Helped guided Cardinals to 119-68 (64-32 MAC) record over past 6 years
Finished career at Purdue as Boilermaker's all-time digs leader.
Helped coach blocking and middle attacking for a squad which finished 23-11 overall record and ranked 12th in the nation
Finished Purdue career ranked third-all time in school history in hitting percentage (.322)
Finished 9th in career block assists
Both Miller and Fisher had decorated careers at Purdue. Miller finished her career as the Boilermakers' all-time digs leader with 2,013. She was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten Selection and helped guide the team to four NCAA tournament appearances.
Fisher finished her career with the third-best hitting percentage (.322) in Purdue history and was on three NCAA tournament teams. She said the pair's success on the court helps give them credibility with their players.
“The fact that we were playing and training together every day in that culture that we wanted is beneficial to us now," Fisher said. "Being that we were in that environment every day makes it easier for us now to relate that back to our players because we actually have experience."
Miller also has familiarity with the program. For the last six years, she worked under former Ball State head Steve Shondell. She served as the team’s defensive coordinator her first three seasons and assumed both offensive and recruiting coordinator positions in 2013.
She said she is looking forward to using strategies she learned from Shondell.
“I think [Shondell] did a great job of really connecting with the players on an individual level and to not just ask what they can do on the court, but off the court as well,” Miller said. “He understood tradition and understood what kind of volleyball should be played at Ball State, as well as his desire to compete. I think he really allowed everyone to be themselves and to be comfortable.”
Just 29 years old, Miller was honored by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) with the Thirty Under 30 Award, which recognizes the top 30 up-and-coming coaches of the sport.
Fisher also has some coaching experience under her belt as an assistant at both Purdue and the College of Charleston in the Colonial Athletic Association, where she helped the Cougars win a pair of CAA regular season championships and the 2013 CAA tournament.
Now that the pair is reunited, Miller said the goal is to use the coaching staff's chemistry to lead the cardinals to the Mid-American Conference title.
“All of our staff works together so well," she said. "We’re all on the same page and I think the biggest thing is that our staff, our players and our support system are all understanding of what mentality we need. It takes everybody being on the same page and having that natural bond to start off the season right.”
The Cardinals (0-3) will play their home opener Wednesday, Aug. 31 against IUPUI at 7 p.m.