Karen Curtis Lamb has been named head coach of the BYU women's volleyball program. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
PROVO -- Elaine Michaelis, BYU's director of Women's Intercollegiate Athletics, today announced that Karen Curtis Lamb has been named head coach of the BYU women's volleyball program. An assistant to Michaelis the past eight seasons, Lamb brings to her new responsibilities 18 years of collegiate coaching experience, including nine years as a head coach, and two years coaching with the U.S. National Team.
Lamb becomes only the third person to head BYU's program, joining Michaelis (1962-2002) and JoAnne Calderwood (1956-61). Michaelis retired in May after 40 years at the Cougar helm ranked No. 2 all-time in NCAA Division I women's volleyball wins with an 887-225-5 (.796) record.
"It has been an honor and a privilege to work with Elaine Michaelis," Lamb said. "She has been a wonderful mentor, coach and friend. This is an awesome responsibility, and I am excited about the challenges ahead."
"Karen has made a tremendous impact on women's volleyball at BYU and is prepared to use her talents to take the program to the next level," Michaelis said. "She is an experienced recruiter and program administrator who is well respected, has tremendous passion for the sport and has exceptional knowledge of the game. As a player, she was a great athlete, who played almost every position. She is an intense competitor and a winner, as evidenced by her coaching credentials."
Lamb takes over a BYU program that returns two starters from last year's 20-9 team that finished third in the Mountain West Conference and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
"This is a great opportunity for me to be the head coach of a well established and successful program," said Lamb, who has a 195-123 (.613) record in nine seasons as a head coach. "We have talented players in the program who I look forward to working with. There are also a number of good young athletes to recruit from in the future. Ultimately my goal and expectation for our program is to reach the Final Four and win the national championship."
Lamb began her coaching career in 1978, serving as an assistant to Michaelis after completing her All-American playing career (1974-77) at BYU. After teaching math at Casa Grande High School in Casa Grande, Ariz., for one year, Lamb took her first volleyball head coaching job in 1980 at Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Ariz. During her four years (1980-83) at the helm, she achieved a 105-29 (.784) record and was named NJCAA Coach of the Year after guiding her team to the 1983 NJCAA title.
In 1984, Lamb was hired at UNLV, accepting the challenge of restarting the Rebels' volleyball program after its three-year absence. She coached two seasons in Las Vegas, earning a 39-34 (.534) mark, including a 23-17 record in her first season in 1984. In 1986, she accepted another daunting task when she took over a Washington State program that was just entering the Pac-10 Conference after suffering through four consecutive single-digit victory seasons. In spite of the challenging circumstances, she posted a 51-60 (.460) record in her three seasons (1986-88) in Pullman, culminated with the program's first winning season in 10 years with a 22-17 record in 1988. Despite her success, Lamb decided to leave her position to care for her young family, moving to San Diego where her husband Barry was hired as an assistant football coach.
While in San Diego, Lamb worked as a clinician (1989), clinic director (1990) and assistant coach (1990-92) for the U.S.A. Women's National Team, which went on to earn the Bronze Medal in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. In 1994, Lamb returned to BYU as a volunteer assistant before being hired as an assistant coach in 1997.
Lamb has been a pioneer in developing grass-roots volleyball. She founded the first junior volleyball programs in both Arizona and Nevada and has served as the director and owner of Excel Volleyball Camps since the program's inception in 1975. Lamb's camps are administered each summer to more than 500 girls age 12 and older in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
As a player, Lamb holds the distinction of being BYU's first female scholarship athlete and was the school's first volleyball All-American, earning second-team honors in 1977. A 1989 inductee into the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame, she still holds the BYU single-season record with a .485 hitting percentage in 1976, and once served 15 straight points to win a game against Weber State.
Lamb received a bachelor's degree in physical education with a coaching emphasis from BYU in 1978. She earned a master's degree in educational administration with an athletics emphasis from Arizona State in 1984. She has finished her PhD course work at BYU and is currently working on her dissertation.
A Safford, Ariz., native, Lamb is married to BYU assistant football coach Barry Lamb.