7 Questions With … new Lamar volleyball coach Brandon Crisp

Brandon Crisp proved he can turn a bottom-dwelling volleyball program into a national title contender and do so fast.

He guided Dallas College Eastfield, which won a combined 15 matches spanning 2013 and 2014, to an NJCAA National Championship title in 2017 and another national finals appearance in 2018. It was his first opportunity to be a head coach after years of learning from some of the top minds in the sport.

Crisp now looks to change the fortunes of Lamar’s volleyball program, which has only won a combined 31 matches over the previous six seasons and haven’t seen conference tournament action in over a decade.

We recently sat down with Crisp to ask seven questions about his experiences at Dallas College Eastfield, his time on multiple benches at the NCAA level and how that can lead Lamar out of the doldrums.

Q: How excited are you to be coaching at the NCAA Division I level? What drew you to Lamar’s head volleyball coach position in particular?

A: I’m extremely excited to be here at Lamar. From the first time I visited on campus, I was impressed with their facilities, with their staff, with everyone here. Everyone’s been so supportive, encouraging, helpful. The facilities are top notch. When I got here, I saw that we have our own volleyball court. It’s fantastic. This is my first time being a head coach at Division I. So, I’m excited to be back there going full-steam.

Q: You led Dallas College Eastfield to an NJCAA National Championship title in 2017, followed that up with another national finals appearance in 2018 and took third place overall in 2016. What did you enjoy the most about that experience?

A: We were in the national semifinals (in 2016); we lost in five sets. It was a heartbreaker, we were close. I was excited because to me, it showed the sustaining power that we finished third in 2016, first in 2017 and then second in 2018. To me, it proves that it wasn’t a fluke. I was just proud of the ladies for how hard they worked. The championship year, we actually ended that year on a 19-match winning streak, and we only lost I think three sets in that whole time.

Q: What did you see during those successful seasons that can translate to success at Lamar?

A: It’s just back to your basics, the fundamentals, and there’s attention to detail. There’s no detail that’s too small. Our goal is to be the best we can be.

Q: You also spent time on the bench helping programs like East Carolina, Fordham, UC Riverside, California Baptist and Southern California, as well as spending three years with USA Volleyball. How did that cumulative experience help shape you into the head coach you are?

A: I was very fortunate that I’ve been able to learn from many, many great coaches. From USC, I was with Mick Haley. He’s one of the best coaches in the country. He won a national title at the University of Texas, then he was the national team coach, then he moved to USC and he won back-to-back national titles (in 2002 and 2003). One of the things I learned from him is just his attention to detail. There’s nothing too small, everything’s planned out.

I got to go to UC Riverside (and work with) Ron Larson. He was an assistant coach on the national team when the men’s team won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics. When I was at CBU, the coach there was actually (current Baylor coach) Ryan McGuyre. He took them to the national championships (semifinals in 2019) for Division I. So, I’ve been fortunate to be among, to learn from some great coaches, take notes and try to apply it to what we’re doing.

Q: What is your philosophy on offense, as well as on defense?

A: The way volleyball is, it’s not one or the other because you’re always playing both. For the game itself, we want to win the serve and pass battle, we want to serve and pass tough. If you can pass at a world-class level, you can play at a world-class level. And it builds from there because that’s your foundation. We try to keep it simple. Don’t reach beyond, just be good at a few things.

Q: Lamar volleyball has had just 31 total wins since 2016 and has not made the conference tournament since 2011. What’s your approach moving forward?

A: We’re going to do our best. If we do our best, then the wins will come along. We’re working on changing the culture — implementing the systems how we want it to be here. We want to make sure we represent Lamar in the best way possible.

Q: If Lamar starts to win matches year in and year out, what do you think that can do to help with recruiting?

A: Obviously if you win, it’ll help recruiting because people want to go somewhere that they win, so we just need to keep building on that. Early on at Eastfield, I sold recruits on the belief what we can do. Once you start accomplishing it, then they can see what you’ve done… Success breeds success out there… It takes time. Even at Eastfield, it took four years to get to the top. It’s going to take some time.

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