Georgia Southern Director of Athletics Tom Kleinlein named Chad Willis Georgia Southern's head volleyball coach Jan. 16, 2019.
A 15-year volleyball coaching veteran at the Division-I level, Willis comes to Statesboro from Appalachian State, where he spent the last six seasons as the associate head coach. The Mountaineers went 22-9 and 13-3 in the Sun Belt in 2018, won the SBC East Division and advanced to the league tournament championship contest. Appalachian State posted 100 wins during Willis’ time there, notched 20-plus victories three times, advanced to the Sun Belt championship twice and earned a bid to the 2018 National Invitational Volleyball Championship.
In addition to serving as Appalachian’s recruiting coordinator, Willis coordinated the Mountaineer offense and trained the outside and middle hitters. The Mountaineers’ 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes were tabbed by PrepVolleyball as highest honorable mention for the nation’s top recruiting class, and Appalachian has ranked in the top 4 in hitting percentage in the Sun Belt in three of its five seasons in the league, leading the conference with a .272 mark in 2015.
Four Mountaineers - Paige Brown, Emily Corrigan, Jess Keller and Ashton Gregory – were named All-Sun Belt in 2015, and four more - Becky Porter (Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year), Emma Longley, Emma Reilly and Kara Spicer – earned the accolade this past season.
“Chad has an extensive coaching background, has shown the ability to recruit talented and high-character student-athletes at the Division-I level and came highly recommended by a number of coaches and athletics administrators,” said Kleinlein. “As our committee, led by Deputy Athletic Director Lisa Sweany, went through an exhaustive national search process, it became evident that Chad is the best fit for our volleyball program.”
Willis spent eight seasons in Winston-Salem, where he served as an assistant coach at Wake Forest before being promoted to associate head coach prior to the 2012 campaign. In addition, Willis served as the team’s recruiting coordinator and assistant camp director.
During his time at Wake Forest, he was primarily responsible for coaching the setters and coordinating offensive systems and mentored two All-ACC setters in Erin Borhart and Kelsey Jones. He was part of a staff that led the Demon Deacons to a school-record-tying 10 ACC wins in 2005.
A 2005 graduate of James Madison University, Willis was the starting setter for JMU’s men’s club volleyball team where he helped lead his squad to three top-10 finishes at the national tournament while earning All-America honors twice. He was the head coach for women’s club volleyball at James Madison while spending two seasons as a student assistant coach for the Dukes’ varsity women’s program, where he was part of a staff that led JMU to a Colonial Athletic Association title and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2000.
Willis spent a season at Elon, where he helped lead the Phoenix to a 19-14 record in 2004 before joining the Wake Forest staff for the 2005 campaign.
Chad and his wife, Caroline, a former libero at North Carolina, have two children, Aidan (6) and Maddie Grace (3).
Taylor Sherwin comes to Statesboro after spending the last three seasons as an assistant at Appalachian State.
She was primarily in charge of training the setters and assisting in coordinating the Mountaineer offense. The Mountaineers went 22-9 and 13-3 in the Sun Belt in 2018, won the SBC East Division, advanced to the league tournament championship contest and made an appearance in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship. Setter Becky Porter was named the Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year and first-team All-Sun Belt.
Sherwin also played a pivotal role in recruiting and helped Appalachian State land a 2017 class that was tabbed by PrepVolleyball as highest honorable mention for the nation’s top recruiting class.
Before her time at Appalachian, she spent the 2015 season as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Minnesota. The Golden Gophers finished the 2015 campaign with a 30-5 overall record, including a nearly-perfect 18-2 mark in Big Ten Conference play. Minnesota made it all the way to the national semifinal where they dropped a four-set match to the eventual runner-up Texas Longhorns.
Sherwin was a three-time captain and most valuable player during a four-year playing career at Ohio State. The setter was a 2014 American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America honorable mention after a Sweet 16 NCAA run. As an All-Big Ten honorable mention, Sherwin averaged 10.96 assists per set in conference play, which ranked fourth in the Big Ten. She was selected as the Big Ten Setter of the Week twice in 2014 and four times in her career, and her 3,624 career assists rank fifth all-time at Ohio State. Sherwin graduated in 2015 with a degree in speech and hearing communications.
Efrain Negron is in his first season at Georgia Southern after spending two previous campaigns at Clemson.
He served as the defensive coordinator and helped the Tigers engineer a 12-win improvement from 2017 to 2018. Clemson won eight of its last 11 matches to post a 19-15 record last season, its most wins since 2012. In 2017, Negron mentored freshman libero Madi Howell, who tallied 373 digs, the second most by a freshman in school history.
Negron served as a volunteer assistant coach on the 2015 Appalachian State staff with Willis and helped the Mountaineers to a 22-8 record (13-3 Sun Belt) and a runner-up finish at the Sun Belt Championship tournament in Hanner Fieldhouse. Negron trained the Appalachian State liberos and defensive specialists, and was responsible for team defense and serve receive. The Mountaineers led the conference in digs per set that season, with a 16.58 average.
Following his time at Appalachian, Negron assisted in all aspects of the program, including recruiting, practice planning and game preparation, at Bowling Green in 2016. He was responsible for the individual development and training of the team’s liberos and defensive specialists, as well as team defense and serve receive. The Falcons led the MAC in digs per set in 2016, with a 17.67 average, which ranked ninth in the nation. He coached Madeline Garda, the national leader in digs per set (6.66) to MAC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-conference honors.
Negron was a four-year starter at libero for Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., from 2010-13, where he was a three-time All-Conference Carolinas selection. He set the Lees-McRae school record in digs, digs per set and reception percentage and sits in the top-5 statistically in the NCAA for career digs. He represented USA Men’s Volleyball as a libero at the Asian Pacific Volleyball Cup in Japan during the summer of 2012. Negron graduated from Lees-McRae with a degree in Sports Science in May of 2014.