Johnson Inks Contract Extension (1/28/09)
After three years at Iowa State one thing is certain, Christy Johnson has put the Iowa State volleyball program into the national spotlight. The Cyclones’ spot on the big stage was affirmed in 2007 when ISU earned its second straight NCAA Tournament berth and advanced to the NCAA Regional Semifinal, volleyball’s version of the Sweet 16. The miraculous run included wins over a pair of nationally-ranked foes in San Diego and Wisconsin in the first and second rounds.
Since arriving in 2005, Johnson has coached the Cyclones to a 56-40 (.583) record, becoming the fastest ISU coach to reach 50 wins. Her 50th win was a 3-0 sweep against Texas Tech in her 84th match as coach.
A perennial bottom-half-of-the Big 12 finisher prior to her arrival, ISU has now earned consecutive upper half finishes after going 11-9 in 2007 to finish fifth. In three conference seasons, Johnson has led ISU to a 32-28 league record. Prior to her arrival, ISU had won just 13 conference matches in 180 contests.
The Cyclones also earned their first-ever national ranking in 2007, garnering the No. 18 spot in the AVCA Coaches Poll following their upset of eighth-ranked Wisconsin in the NCAA second round. ISU finished the 2007 season 19-14 overall and ended the season ranked 17th in the AVCA poll.
Defensively, Iowa State continued to prove its aptitude in making things difficult for its opponents. The Cyclones ranked ninth in the country in blocks and led the Big 12 with 18.08 digs per game in conference matches, becoming just the second school to lead the league in back-to-back seasons.
“Hilton Magic” is no longer reserved for just basketball as Johnson has helped transform Hilton Coliseum into one of the more fan friendly venues in the nation. The Cyclones finished the season ranked 20th in the country in attendance in 2007, averaging 1,565 spectators per match. With a revised seating setup, ISU’s attendance has risen by 151 percent since Johnson’s first season.
The Cyclones’ 2007 match against Nebraska drew 6,705 fans, the 16th largest crowd in the nation for the season and the largest ever to watch a volleyball match in the state of Iowa.
Iowa State has also exorcised many demons during Johnson’s tenure in Ames. The Cyclones snapped losing streaks of 18 matches against Missouri, 20 to Kansas State and 21 against Texas A&M. ISU won for the first time against Colorado on the road since 1987 and beat Texas A&M for the first time in College Station during the 2006 campaign. In 2007, ISU snapped a 10-match home losing streak to Missouri.
Johnson helped mentor Erin Boeve, who capped a stellar career in 2007, into one of the Big 12’s best players. Boeve was a first-team all-Big 12 selection twice in her career and earned AVCA honorable-mention All-America honors in 2006. The Big 12’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2006 had over 1,000 career kills and 590 total blocks. In 2007 she was the only middle blocker in the Big 12 to play all the way around, averaging a career-best 2.07 digs per game.
Junior setter Kaylee Manns owns the top-two single-season assist marks in school history, dishing out 1,402 assists in 2007 after setting for a record 1,433 assists during her freshman campaign.
As a freshman in 2007, libero Ashley Mass earned Big 12 all-Freshman Team honors after becoming just the third Cyclone in school history to top 500 digs, recording 532 to shatter the previous freshman record of 359 that was set by Manns in 2006. Mass earned Big 12 Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors twice during the season.
The 2006 Cyclones finished 21-11 and made the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history, advancing to the second round before falling to No. 10 Wisconsin. The Cyclones established new parameters for success, finishing 12-8 in the Big 12 in 2006, which was good enough to earn a school-best fourth-place finish.
The 2006 Cyclones ranked among the top defensive teams in the nation. ISU finished in the top-15 nationally in blocks per game while leading the Big 12 in digs per game.
In her first year at the helm, Johnson wasted little time in establishing the Cyclones as an up-and-coming program in the Big 12. Johnson became the first ISU coach to win her first five matches and the Cyclones pulled off an upset of nationally-ranked Texas in her first Big 12 home match.
Johnson led the Cyclones to their best season since joining the Big 12 in 1996. The Cyclones went 16-15 overall and recorded a school-record nine conference wins. To understand the significance of those nine wins, one must only look to the previous school record. Four in 2003. In fact, Iowa State won more conference matches in 2005 than it won in the previous seven years combined.
The record improvement was just the first in a long line of achievements for Iowa State. Boeve became ISU’s first player to receive all-Big 12 recognition, capturing honorable-mention honors in her sophomore campaign as well as being named to the CVU.com Stellar Spikers Honorable-Mention team.
While the Cyclones improved dramatically on the court, their efforts in the classroom remained solid with 15 student-athletes earning academic all-Big 12 honors under Johnson’s direction.
When Johnson was tabbed to become Iowa State’s 10th head women’s volleyball coach on Dec. 17, 2004, the Cyclones landed one of the nation’s brightest assistant coaches. Endowed with an enthusiastic approach, a determination to build a strong winning program and one of the most impressive résumés of any assistant coach in the country, Johnson took over in Ames after an illustrious playing and coaching career at Nebraska and Wisconsin.
Johnson, who has played and coached in several NCAA Tournaments, including two appearances in the national championship match, took over an ISU program that last appeared in an NCAA Tournament in 1995. In addition to her NCAA coaching and playing experience, Johnson has a winning background in Iowa State’s conference as one of the greatest players in Nebraska history during the mid-1990s.
Johnson’s playing and coaching career has brought her in touch with some of the game’s greatest coaches, including Terry Pettit, her coach while playing at Nebraska, current Nebraska head coach John Cook and Wisconsin head coach Pete Waite. She also has international coaching and playing experience.
The accomplished Johnson has demonstrated tremendous knowledge of the game and the ability to relate its demands to her players. Johnson has tutored several student-athletes to All-American and all-conference honors after earning tremendous accolades of her own as a player.
The 34-year-old Johnson coached in the 2000 NCAA Division I Championship game and three regional finals (final eight) at Wisconsin as an assistant to Cook (1997-99), now the head coach at Nebraska and Waite (1999-). Wisconsin was 22-10 in 2004 and came within one match of the Final Four. Johnson’s tenure in Madison included coaching on three Big Ten championship teams. The Badgers compiled an overall record of 212-54 (.797) with Johnson as an assistant coach.
At Wisconsin, setter Lizzy Fitzgerald to two AVCA All-America honors and a spot on the U.S. National Team roster under Johnson. She also coached setter Morgan Shields to All-America honors in 2002. Wisconsin setter Jackie Simpson made the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2004.
Johnson’s experience in the NCAA Tournament goes back to her collegiate playing career at Nebraska. She earned All-America honors for the Huskers in 1994 and 1995. Johnson was the starting setter on the 1995 Nebraska team that won the NCAA championship, the first national volleyball crown in school history. The Huskers made four NCAA tournament appearances and won three Big Eight titles during Johnson’s collegiate career.
A two-time all-district selection and two-time all-Big Eight Conference honoree, Johnson ranks fifth in career assists in Nebraska history with 3,183. Her 1994 season, in which she tallied 1,460 assists, is the ninth-best single-season total in Husker history. In the 1995 NCAA championship game against Texas, Johnson tallied an amazing 87 assists to lead NU to the title, a performance which still ranks as the best four-game match assist total in school history.
Johnson’s ability as a player and as a leader was perhaps best illustrated by her winning percentage as a setter. In her junior and senior campaigns in Lincoln, Johnson led Nebraska to a 63-2 mark and the school’s first national championship. It is the second-best winning percentage of any setter in Nebraska history. The Huskers were a perfect 24-0 in Big Eight play during that span and captured two Big Eight crowns.
Johnson was also named to the 1995 NCAA Championship all-tournament team, the 1994 and 1995 NCAA Regional all-tournament team and the 1994 and 1995 Big Eight Conference all-tournament teams. In addition to her athletic honors, Johnson was a 1995 second-team academic all-American and a three-time All-Big Eight Academic honoree.
Johnson has international experience as a member of the 1989 U.S. Junior National team and as a member of the 1993 U.S. National “B” Team. She played with the Nebraska Tornadoes of the National Volleyball Association for two seasons, leading the Tornadoes to the league championship in 1998.
A 1996 graduate of Nebraska with a bachelor’s degree in education, Johnson spent one year coaching at Millard North High School in her hometown of Omaha, Neb. She also served as a coach in the River City Juniors Volleyball Club program for two years.
Johnson is married to ISU assistant volleyball coach Joe Lynch.