Ashley Preston has been appointed the seventh women’s volleyball head coach in Cal State Fullerton history, Athletic Director Jim Donovan announced Thursday.
Preston comes to Cal State Fullerton after serving as women’s volleyball head coach at Coppin State University for the past three years. In that short time, Preston became the all-time winningest coach in the program’s history. In each of her three years with the Eagles, the team advanced to the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament, advancing to the championship for the first time in program history in 2013.
“It’s a beautiful day in Southern California and a beautiful day for Cal State Fullerton,” Donovan said. “We had an excellent candidate pool and ultimately we hired an individual that has been a head coach at two other colleges; Spelman College and most recently Coppin State. She has remarkable accomplishments in her young career. Bottom line, she’s one of the rising stars in women’s volleyball. She has great intellect, charisma and work ethic and she’s made a habit of setting school records.”
In 2014, Preston led the Eagles to 14 victories, the second most single-season win total in program history. Five players were named to the All-MEAC volleyball team and 10 student-athletes were selected to the MEAC All-Academic Team, the most of any school in the conference.
Preston, the 10th head coach in Coppin State history, led the Eagles to a school-record 15 overall victories and eight conference wins in 2013. The Eagles won 10 straight home matches and recorded the program’s first playoff victory since 1992, eventually advancing to the MEAC championship match.
In her first season at Coppin State in 2012, Preston led the Eagles to the MEAC tournament for the first time since 2006.
Prior to her stint at Coppin State, Preston landed her first head coaching job in 2011, leading Spelman College to nine victories, which established a school record for wins in a single season.
Preston got her start in coaching as an assistant coach at Morgan State University in 2008. She served in that capacity for two years under head coach Ramona Riley-Bozier. Preston moved on to become an assistant coach at Loyola University (Maryland) in 2010 under head coach Scott Pennewill.
Preston is a 2008 graduate of Morgan State University where she ranks as one of the top players in Morgan State history. She was a three-time First Team All-MEAC selection from 2004-06 and is the Bears all-time leader in digs with 2,066. She also owns the top three marks in Morgan State history for digs in a season. During her tenure the Bears advanced to the MEAC Tournament championship match in 2006.
Off the court Preston was equally impressive. A native of Las Vegas, Nev., Preston was a three-time recipient of the MEAC Commissioner’s All-Academic Award and garnered Arthur Ashe Scholar’s first team honors as a junior. Following her junior season Preston also earned the Elijah Rowe Award, which goes to the female student-athlete with the highest grade point average at Morgan State.
Preston graduated in May of 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications and was honored that summer as Morgan State’s representative for the MEAC Woman of the Year Award. She earned a Master of Arts in Publications Design from the University of Baltimore in 2011.
Press Conference Quotes
Cal State Fullerton Women’s Volleyball Coach Ashley Preston
On her coaching philosophy and the job ahead
It’s just to give those girls over there the best Division I experience they could possibly have. That first starts in the classroom. I’m very big about GPA’s and I take pride in that and I love when my teams take pride in that. I think that’s very important. Along with that is being a part of the community, on campus as well as around the community. And then it’s also just winning. Working as a team, as a family and one unit to really come together and win. There’s a lot at stake when it comes to taking this position and I’m just so excited for it and I really want to see these girls; they know they have the tools to win. It’s a good core group of girls and I feel like if we work hard, if we fight, and if we play for each other then we’ll really be successful here at Cal State Fullerton.
On the appeal of the job at Cal State Fullerton and her immediate goals
The diversity. I love a school that’s diverse. It also appealed to me because it’s the West. California is a great bed for volleyball and for volleyball talent. The talent here is just amazing and I tried to get kids from California. Also being a state institution, I love being at state institutions. And what really solidified it for me was looking and seeing the growth. I looked at the team and knew they were very young and I knew they would be read to go after it and try to make some things happen.
On her coaching style
What you see is what you get. I’m very honest. I like to smile; I love teaching and guiding kids. Also, stats wise, just really knowing and understanding what the needs are as it relates to the game. But really, my coaching philosophy is just through love. One of my mentors; he said ‘players don’t care what you know until you know that they care.’ And so for me at the root of athletics and coaching, period, that’s the biggest thing for me. For them, as long they know I care and they see I put my heart out for them hopefully it will be reciprocated and we’re able to make something happen.
How here experience has prepared her for this job
With having a young team, a team that may not be as experienced, its really on what we do in practice is what’s going to be important. Making sure practice is detail oriented, goal driven as well as really working on passing and serve; serve and receive. Also doing different things. Because we are a shorter team than the rest of the conference so running fast plays and getting people to see something different than what they’re accustomed to Cal State Fullerton seeing. My creativity is what helped me at Spelman and at Coppin State because they didn’t expect anything so I love being the underdog. It’s the best. It’s fun to be on top of the conference but to be the underdog and be underrated. When they do see this style of volleyball and see Cal State Fullerton talking their heads off about what’s going on on the other side, I think we are going to really shake things up and surprise people with what we can do.
On her long term goals with Fullerton
An NCAA bid. That’s the long term and kind of the short term of it. Really that’s ultimately what we want to attain and then from there also go past the first round. Knowing teams that have done this even within this conference, that is the goal to have a bid and move on.
On the competition in the Big West Conference
It’s an amazing conference. It’s competitive. You have great, amazing coaches in this conference and to even stand in the same position as them, I’m honored and humbled. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me but its work that I’m used to. I’m used to being at the bottom and working my way up so I’m excited to be in this conference. It’s one of the top conferences and now it’s about getting ready to go to work.
Preston’s Head Coaching Record
Year School Record
2014 Coppin State 14-14
2013 Coppin State 15-16
2012 Coppin State 11-14
2011 Spelman College 9-16