Nebraska volleyball lost a former Husker libero from its coaching staff when Dani Busboom Kelly accepted the top job at Louisville late last year, but Coach John Cook tapped another one to replace Busboom Kelly with the hiring of Kayla Banwarth.
“I am extremely honored to rejoin the Nebraska volleyball program as a coach,” Banwarth said. “I want to thank Coach Cook and the rest of the staff for this opportunity. I look forward to learning and growing both as a coach and a person. It’s great to be back in Lincoln.”
Banwarth walked on to the Huskers in 2007, earning the starting libero job midway through her freshman season. She never lost that job, setting Nebraska’s career record for digs, which stood until 2016 when it was broken by Justine Wong Orantes.
Banwarth, who earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors twice, would not have been considered a favorite to earn a spot on the U.S. Women’s National Team coming out of college, but she made the team in 2011 and played through the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
“Whenever I have a chance to hire a former player to coach at Nebraska volleyball, it’s something I strongly consider because they understand what this program is about,” Cook said. “Kayla’s strengths are her journey to Nebraska as a walk-on, having a great career at Nebraska and going on to beat out all the other liberos in the United States to become one of the top liberos in the world. I know Kayla has limited coaching experience at the collegiate level, but her strengths will allow her to develop quickly and take over Dani’s role in recruiting and coaching our liberos and passers.”
While training for the 2016 Olympics, Banwarth accepted a volunteer coaching position with the Pepperdine men’s team, commuting hours each day from Anaheim, where the U.S. team trained, and Pepperdine’s campus in Malibu to fill both roles.
“I really like the fact that while Kayla was training with the U.S. National Team, she found the time to volunteer coach for the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team,” Cook said. “So not only did she play at Nebraska and for Team USA, she gained experience under [U.S. coach] Karch Kiraly and [Pepperdine coach] Marv Dunphy, two of the best coaches in the United States.”
Banwarth was scheduled to meet with the media Monday afternoon.
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.