Erik Sullivan will enter his fourth season with the Nebraska volleyball program in 2011. He handles player training and works with the middle blockers while serving as co-recruiting coordinator. Sullivan also handles opponent scouting and game preparation and oversees NU's summer camps.
Sullivan's stint at Nebraska marks his second stop in the Big 12, as he served as an assistant coach at Colorado for four seasons. He said his extensive playing background with the national team and professionally has helped shape his coaching philosophies.
"The thing I learned playing around the world is that you can win in different ways," Sullivan said. "There is not one model or style that leads to success. Many of the players at Nebraska have aspirations of playing either professionally or at the national team level, and I can help in their preparation and with the demands of continuing a volleyball career following college."
A two-time U.S. Olympian, Sullivan has made a quick impact in the Husker program, as he has tutored a Brooke Delano, who earned first-team AVCA All-America honors in 2010 and being a second-team pick in 2009. Delano also became the fourth Husker in school history to hit .400 or better during a season as she hit .406 in 2010. Sullivan has also coached Kori Cooper, a two-time first-team All-Big 12 selection (2008-09), and Amanda Gates, who earned honorable-mention All-Big 12 laurels in 2008. Cooper, who topped the Big 12 in hitting percentage as a senior, was a two-time honorable-mention All-America selection. His middle blockers have also excelled off the court, as Cooper (2008-09) and Gates (2008) were honored as first-team CoSIDA Academic All-America selections, while Jordan Wilberger (2009-10) has earned first-team Academic All-Big 12 honors twice.
In his four years at Colorado, Sullivan helped the Buffaloes to three straight NCAA appearances and helped tutor a pair of players who earned All-Big 12 recognition, including two-time all-region selection Allie Griffin, who is currently playing on the AVP Tour. He worked primarily with the outside hitters and team passing during his time in the Buffaloes' program. In 2006, he helped Colorado knock off No. 1 Nebraska, the only loss on the NCAA champion Huskers (33-1) schedule that season.
Sullivan, 37, brings a wealth of playing experience into the Husker program, including eight years with the U.S. National Team. He started for Team USA at libero at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games and served as co-captain of Team USA at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
His defensive successes are well documented. He earned Best Defensive Player in the World at the 1998 World Championships and that same year he earned the USA National Team's Tom Haine Players' Award. Sullivan was touted as the America's Cup Best Reception Player in 2000 and the Best Libero at the 2001 World Championship Qualifier. He was the Best Defensive Player at the 1997 NORCECA Zone Championships and the Best Reception Player at the 1999 NORCECA.
Sullivan's playing experience has also stretched to the professional ranks in Europe. His professional resume includes stints in Naefels, Switzerland (1995-97), Malaga, Spain (1999), Apeldoorn, The Netherlands (2000-01) and Odintsovo, Russia (2003). In the United States, Sullivan played professionally on the Four-Man Volleyball Beach Tour in 1996-97. He was named the tour's Rookie of the Year in 1996 and was tabbed the tour's Left Side Player of the Year in 1997.
In addition to his playing experience, Sullivan served as director of the Pikes Peak Volleyball Club in Colorado Springs, Colo., from 2001 to 2002 and served as coach of the club's 17 & Under contingent.
A two-time American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) second-team All-American at UCLA, Sullivan led the Bruins to a pair of national titles during his four-year playing career (1992-95). Sullivan finished his career as UCLA's all-time leader in matches with 10 or more digs (25) and ranked second in career digs (747). As a senior in 1995, Sullivan captained the Bruins to an NCAA title while ranking ninth nationally in digs (2.5 dpg). He graduated from UCLA with a bachelor's degree in physiological science in the spring of 1995.
A native of Encinitas, Calif., Sullivan is married to the former Amanda Heavner of Santa Barbara, Calif. The couple has a daughter, Shaye (8) and a son, Cade (3).