Gamecocks hire Tom Mendoza as new volleyball coach
COLUMBIA S.C. – South Carolina Director of Athletics Ray Tanner announced today that Tom Mendoza is the 13th head coach in Gamecock volleyball’s 45-year history. Mendoza comes to Columbia after two seasons as head coach at High Point University, where he led the Panthers to 47 wins and back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances.
“I am excited to welcome Tom Mendoza to Gamecock Country. In researching candidates for our coaching position, one name kept coming up when talking with those in volleyball circles – Tom Mendoza,” said Tanner. “Tom is a teacher and strategist who has been successful in his coaching career recruiting and developing young volleyball players to become outstanding student-athletes. I’m am looking forward to the impact that Coach Mendoza will have on our volleyball program.”
“I want to thank Coach Tanner, Judy Van Horn, the Board of Trustees, and the search committee for giving me the opportunity to coach at the University of South Carolina,” Mendoza said. “It’s easy to be excited about the potential and future of this program. It’s a phenomenal school, there’s a lot of talent already in the gym, we have very loyal fans and a great facility. We are going to work on being a harder team to play against and earn our success. I can’t wait to get working with the team and recruiting future Gamecocks.”
Mendoza’s High Point team won 24 matches in 2017, the second-most in the program’s Division I era. Thanks to an ambitious non-conference schedule that included wins over Oklahoma, Georgia and Ohio, the Panthers were in rare company as a mid-major program earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. It was the team’s third NCAA berth overall, and was the first volleyball at-large bid in Big South Conference history.
In the postseason, Mendoza was named Big South Coach of the Year and the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Southeast Region Coach of the Year for his efforts. The Panthers also had their first student-athlete earn regional honors, as junior Molly Livingston made the All-Southeast Region team.
Before taking over at High Point, Mendoza helped lay the foundation for one of the top indoor program in the country – Creighton University. He was with the Bluejays from 2010 to 2015, and rose to the role of associate head coach and recruiting coordinator during his final three seasons. His 2015 recruiting class at Creighton was ranked No. 11 in the country.
During his six years in Omaha, Mendoza helped the program win 20 or more matches five times, with five conference titles, five NCAA Tournament bids and a berth in the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2015. Individually, Mendoza worked with AVCA third team All-Americans Jaali Winters (2015) and Kelli Browning (2014), and had eight players earn AVCA first team All-Region honors during his six seasons.
High Point and Creighton had one combined NCAA appearance in its respective histories before his arrival.
His stops before Creighton included one season at Evansville as an assistant, and two seasons as a volunteer coach with Michigan State. The Spartans made the Sweet 16 in 2007, his first season on staff.
The Buffalo Grove, Ill. native was a three-year letter winner at Newman University and a one-year letter winner at Lewis University, and was a NAIA All-American as a setter. He received his bachelor’s degree in management information systems from Lewis in 2007.
Mendoza will be joined in Columbia by his wife, Megan. The couple has two dogs, Jay and Ace.
USC Athletics contributed to the writing of this article.