After serving as the interim head coach of the Eastern Washington University volleyball program for much of the last two seasons, Michael King was hired in that same role on a permanent basis, the department announced Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. He will begin his third season as head coach for the 2016-17 school year.
King directed the Eagles for the entirety of their 2014 campaign before taking over head coaching duties at the conclusion of nonconference play this season. Long-time head coach Wade Benson announced he would be stepping down from his post following Eastern's match against Corban back on Sept. 17, citing the fatigue associated with traveling and overseeing an NCAA Division I volleyball program.
"I am excited to become the new head coach of the women's volleyball program at Eastern Washington University," King said. "I want to thank our Athletics Director, Bill Chaves, and our Senior Woman Administrator, Pamela Parks, for this opportunity. Bill and Pam have expressed their complete support for women's volleyball and have shown such tremendous faith in me leading the program."
"We are excited to have Coach King take over the program on a permanent basis," said Chaves. "The team has really come together under his leadership, and the ability for us to maintain stability for the foreseeable future as a key consideration in making this decision at this time."
EWU got off to an 8-2 Big Sky Conference record with King as the interim head coach, which led to the interim tag being removed on Oct. 28. The Eagles finished the 2015 regular season at 14-14, and posted their first winning season in the Big Sky since 2011 with a 9-7 record in league play.
After stints in Cheney in the late 1990's and early 2000's, King was hired as the program's associate head coach prior to the 2014 season. While serving in an interim role in 2014, he coached senior Kelsey Julian to All-Big Sky honors and saw Eastern receive the prestigious AVCA Team Academic Award for its stellar performance in the classroom.
"Since first having been given the opportunity by Pamela Parks to coach at EWU as an assistant, I've always thought it would be a great place to be a head coach," King continued. "The values, mission and tradition of the university and the athletics department are a perfect fit that match my values and belief system. The beauty of our campus and the enthusiasm of everyone here makes this university very special."
King served as an assistant coaching at Eastern during the 1998, 1999 and 2002 seasons. The Eagles went a combined 77-16 in those seasons, winning a Big Sky regular season title in 2002 and advancing to the NCAA Tournament in 1998 and 1999.
"I believe EWU can once again become a top-tier volleyball program, and we are well on our way already with making this happen," said King. "Eastern has so much to offer student-athletes, and I believe talented recruits will see the opportunities available to them here with our top-flight education, wonderful facilities and first-class support. They can truly have a tremendous college experience. We have already taken steps to create a winning culture and making the program competitive again."
Prior to his return to Cheney in 2014, King spent the 2013 season as the top assistant at Winthrop, helping it to a winning record and a trip to the Big South Conference Tournament. Under his tutelage, three players received Big South All-Conference honors, including a first-team selection.
Before King's stint at Winthrop, he served as the associate head coach at Portland for the previous three seasons after working as an assistant coach for the Pilots. He helped guide Portland to its best record in West Coast Conference play in 15 years, and brought in two nationally-ranked recruiting classes according to PrepVolleybal.com.
King spent the 2000 season at Concordia and the 2001 season at UAB and also has extensive coaching experience at the high school level, coaching volleyball at Southridge High School in Portland, Ore., before leading David Douglas High School, also in Portland, from 2004-08.
King played club volleyball at Santa Barbara City College (1994) and Oregon State (1996-97) before earning a bachelor's degree from Western Oregon in 2000 followed by a master's degree from Concordia in 2003.
King's wife, Erin, was a four-time national champion in synchronized swimming at Ohio State and later served as the head coach of the Puerto Rico National Team, winning two gold medals in synchronized swimming at the World Master Games.
Diana Villalpando - Assistant Coach
"I'm beyond excited to join the volleyball program here at Eastern Washington," expressed Villalpando. "I'm really looking forward to working with Coach King and I cannot wait to get started."
Diana Villalpando (Dee-ah-na, Vill-al-Pan-Doe) comes to Eastern with a wealth of knowledge of the Big Sky Conference, as she was a defensive specialist for four seasons at Portland State University from 2007-2010. She most recently spent the 2016 season as an assistant coach at her alma mater, and helped the Vikings go 17-12 in her lone season with the team.
"Diana is an intelligent, hard-working person with incredible morals and ethics that will represent Eastern Washington Volleyball," King said of his newest assistant. "She's got a great presence and has a magnetic personality. She's very articulate and has an excellent working knowledge of the Big Sky from being a former student-athlete and coach in the conference. I'm excited about Diana joining our staff and know she'll be a great coach at Eastern."
Prior to her one-year stint as a coach at PSU, she spent the 2013 season as the recruiting coordinator at NCAA Division III Lewis and Clark University. In addition to her recruiting duties, she worked with the Pioneer setters and defensive specialist throughout the season. Villalpando also spent seven years as a coach at the Oregon Juniors Volleyball Academy, where she was the head coach of the U16 teams, while also serving as an assistant for the U18 squad.
As a student-athlete, Villalpando was a one of the winningest NCAA Division I players in Portland State history, as the Vikings won 83 matches in her four-year career. She was also a part of five Big Sky Championships (3 regular season titles, 2 Big Sky Tournament titles) and played in two NCAA Tournaments. Her best season came as a senior in 2010, as the libero ranked eighth in the Big Sky in digs per set (3.75) and led the team in digs in 17 matches. She recorded a team-high 12 digs against No. 7 Hawai'i in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
Villalpando is a native of Troutdale, Oregon and graduated from Portland State in 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree in sociology. She is married to Daniel Leong and the couple have a daughter, Karsyn.