The volleyball team will say goodbye to one of its cornerstones after the season.
After 10 years with MSU, associate head coach Russ Carney announced he will retire at the conclusion of the season, effective at the end of the 2014 calendar year.
“It’s been an awesome experience,” Carney said. “It’s been nice to be a part of a program that has had a lot of success.”
In his time as the associate head coach, Carney has seen the Spartans earn six NCAA Tournament bids and produce 14 All-Big Ten selections.
“Couldn’t ask for a better situation,” Carney said.
Carney has been with MSU for a decade but has been with head coach Cathy George even longer.
“It’s like an old married couple,” Carney said jokingly of his 21-season relationship with George. “She loves the sport of volleyball, she loves the girls (and) she’s easy to work with.”
Carney came to MSU with George in 2005 after the two spent 11 seasons together at Western Michigan .
However, the Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania , native felt that this was the perfect time to walk away.
“It’s a good transition year for the program,” Carney said. “Currently we don’t plan on bringing anybody in on scholarship.”
One of Carney’s main roles is recruiting players, and for the second consecutive season the Spartans bought in a Top-10 recruiting class according to PrepVolleyball.com.
It’s been a roller coaster season for MSU (18-13 overall , 11-8 Big Ten ) but that’s to be expected for a team which has played mostly underclassmen and only has six upperclassmen on the roster.
“There’s a lot of youth and inexperience,” Carney said. “With that you’re going to have growing pains.”
The Spartans have been able to overcome their inexperience and were selected to their fourth straight NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.
“We’re getting better all the time,” Carney said. “I’m very optimistic — the future is bright.”
MSU will take on Loyola Marymount (23-7 overall , 11-7 West Coast Conference ) on Friday in Stanford, California.
The postseason will momentarily delay Carney’s retirement plans, but the coach doesn’t envision himself straying too far from volleyball.
“I’ll probably do some club coaching...up in Grand Rapids,” he said. Carney also said he would be in the stands for all the team’s home matches. “I’m not falling off the face of the Earth.”