Dawn Sullivan, who has spent the past 13 seasons as an assistant and associate head coach at Iowa State University, will be new head volleyball coach at UNLV, Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois announced Monday.
Working under head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch at ISU since 2005, Sullivan helped lead the Cyclone program to a 268-130 (.673) record, including 12 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament. ISU has advanced to the regional semifinals five times and has made two regional finals during that time. The Cyclones are one of only 11 NCAA Division I programs to have participated in the postseason in each of the past 12 years.
"We are thrilled to welcome Dawn to the Rebel Family and I am confident that she will lead our volleyball program to lasting success," said UNLV Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois. "She shares our core values, has demonstrated success as an exceptional recruiter and has an uncanny proven ability to connect with and develop student-athletes. She will bring passion, compassion and a competitive spirit that will resonate with our past, current and future student-athletes. We are looking forward to having Dawn, Josh and their children at UNLV."
Sullivan joined Johnson-Lynch's first-year staff with a focus on mentoring the outside hitters. She was promoted to associate head coach prior to the 2012 season and has served in that role for the past seven years.
"UNLV is going through an exciting period of change in the athletics department and the university," Sullivan said. "I am thankful for this amazing opportunity to join a family of Rebels whose common goal is to take UNLV to the highest level of athletics and academics.
"After meeting with Desiree and seeing her vision for UNLV Athletics as well as her passion for the overall development of student-athletes, I saw the chance to join an administration with expectations and priorities parallel to my own. I am excited to work with Desiree and the UNLV staff to create a positive environment for student-athletes and to build a championship culture within the volleyball program."
Sullivan helped make an immediate impact upon her arrival in Ames as the program upped its win total by eight (to 16) during her first season. That team also finished five spots higher in the Big 12 standings (11th to sixth) from the previous season. One year later, the squad went 21-11 overall and 12-8 in Big 12 play (fourth place) en route to the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1995.
With Sullivan on the staff, ISU volleyball has posted 16 or more wins each season, including 12 straight with a minimum of 18 victories. The 2006 season marked the first of seven with 20 or more wins. In 2009, the Cyclones recorded program bests in overall wins with 27, conference victories with 17 and a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
From 1996 to 2004, before Johnson-Lynch and Sullivan were with the program, the Cyclones went 13-167 overall with seven last-place finishes in nine seasons in Big 12 competition. Since 2005, ISU has gone 152-80 in league play, including 12 straight double-digit winning seasons. ISU has finished second or third in conference play in each of the past nine seasons.
With Sullivan on the staff, the Cyclones have had 13 student-athletes earn AVCA All-America honors 23 times, while 16 were recognized as AVCA All-Region performers 27 times. ISU has had 30 student-athletes named to the All-Big 12 Team 38 times. Academically, the team has placed 56 student-athletes on Academic All-Big 12 teams, including a program-record 10 honorees in 2011.
Sullivan began her collegiate coaching career as an assistant at Illinois State University in 2002 and helped the Redbirds increase their win total from 14 to 19 to 22 before leaving for Iowa State.
Sullivan played collegiately at Kansas State University from 1996-99 and led the Wildcats to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances behind a total of 1,611 kills and 1,258 digs, which rank as the third and fourth-most, respectively, in program history. She is one of only five KSU players to record 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career.
As a senior, she served as a team captain and was later named an All-American and to the All-Big 12 Team. She also earned Academic All-Big 12 honors in each of her four years. Following graduation, Sullivan played professionally for the Grand Rapids Force of the United States Professional Volleyball League.
Sullivan and her husband, Josh, have three daughters (Katie, Sarah and Emily) and a son (Matthew).