|Alma Mater:||Nebraska (2012)|
Kayla Banwarth joined the Nebraska volleyball coaching staff as an assistant in January 2017 and serves as the Huskers' recruiting coordinator. Banwarth completed an illustrious playing career for the Huskers in 2010 before embarking on a professional playing career that saw her win an Olympic bronze medal with the U.S. National Team, as well as an FIVB World Championship.
Banwarth finished her professional career with the U.S. National Team at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. A U.S. National Team libero since 2011, Banwarth spent two years as a volunteer assistant coach for the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team prior to joining the Huskers.
Banwarth oversees the Husker liberos and passers while leading NU's recruiting efforts. In her first season as a Husker assistant, Nebraska won the 2017 NCAA Championship and repeated as Big Ten champions with a 32-4 overall record and 19-1 mark in conference play. Under her guidance, Kelly Hunter was named the NCAA Championship co-most outstanding player, an AVCA first-team All-American and the Big Ten Setter of the Year. She was also the PrepVolleyball.com Player of the Year, while libero Kenzie Maloney was a PrepVolleyball.com first-team All-American and an NCAA Championship All-Tournament selection.
In 2018, the Huskers reached the NCAA Championship match once again, and libero Kenzie Maloney was an NCAA Championship All-Tournament selection. Nebraska's defense was one of the best in the nation, in large part thanks to the Huskers' back-row passers. Nebraska finished the season with a .144 opponent hitting percentage, which ranked third in the nation, first in the Big Ten, and was the Huskers’ best mark since 2005. Maloney was an AVCA third-team All-American and an All-Big Ten selection.
After walking on at Nebraska in 2007, Banwarth became the starting libero midway through her freshman season and remained in that role through 2010, receiving All-Big 12 honorable mention as a junior and senior. She led the Huskers to the NCAA semifinals in 2008 and to three Big 12 titles. She was Nebraska’s all-time career leader in digs with 1,706 until 2016. Banwarth was also a two-time academic All-Big 12 selection and a three-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.
Banwarth played professionally overseas in Azerbaijan but focused strictly on the U.S. National Team and coaching at Pepperdine in 2015 and 2016. She was named the Best Receiver at the 2015 NORCECA Championship and helped Team USA win gold there and at the FIVB World Grand Prix in 2016. In 2014 she aided Team USA to the FIVB World Championship, the first gold medal for the U.S. at a major tournament. In 2016 Banwarth anchored the squad at the Olympic Games in Rio, helping the U.S. to the bronze medal.
In 2013 Banwarth was named USA Volleyball’s Female Indoor Most Improved Player of the Year, and in 2012 and 2013 she led the team to gold medals in consecutive Pan American Cups. Also in 2013, she was the runner-up in the Best Digger category at the FIVB World Grand Champions Cup after posting 3.19 digs per set. In her first international competition in 2011, Banwarth helped USA to a bronze medal at the Pan American Games.
Banwarth joined the Pepperdine men’s volleyball staff as a volunteer assistant coach in December 2015 and coached for two seasons. In her first season, Pepperdine went 13-11, and she helped lead the Waves’ back line to rank 36th nationally with 7.69 digs per set.
A native of Dubuque, Iowa, Banwarth attended Wahlert Catholic High School before her Husker career. She graduated from UNL in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in English.
“I really like the fact that while Kayla was training with the U.S. National Team, she found the time to volunteer coach for the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team,” Head Coach John Cook said. “So not only did she play at Nebraska and for Team USA, she gained experience under Karch Kiraly and Marv Dunphy, two of the best coaches in the United States.
“Whenever I have a chance to hire a former player to coach at Nebraska volleyball, it’s something I strongly consider because they understand what this program is about. Kayla’s strengths are her journey to Nebraska as a walk-on, having a great career at Nebraska and going on to beat out all the other liberos in the United States to become one of the top liberos in the world. Kayla's strengths will allow her to develop quickly and take over Dani Busboom Kelly’s role in recruiting and coaching our liberos and passers.”