All good things must come to an end. And, after 43 years, the end has come for legendary Women’s Volleyball coach Russ Rose. Of course, after such a successful and extended tenure with the Lions, he’ll go down as the winningest coach in the sport, tallying 1,330 wins to go along with his seven national titles, four of which were consecutive.
In those four consecutive titles, Penn State had what may be the most dominant championship team in recent memory, but also the most surprising champion in recent memory. The 2008 team would not lose a set (not match, set) in the entire regular season. They also broke the NCAA record for consecutive matches won at 52. To top it all off, not losing a set until the national semifinals that year meant breaking another record along the way, with 111 sets won (Florida held the previous record of 105). Some wondered whether this Penn State team was the best of all time.
At the tail end of that run, the 2010 team would see its record win streak snapped at 108. They went a pedestrian 26-5 in the regular season, and earned the fourth overall seed the tournament. Penn State would not get to face any of the other top three seeds, as they all lost en route to Final Four, where the Nittany Lions swept Texas in a rematch of the national championship game from the preview season. And so, Penn State would go on to win their fourth straight title.
Rose would put a feather in the cap of his illustrious season with yet another championship in 2014, and this one would be for the record books. By winning this title, the Lions would win six of the past eight titles, and two straight. This would make Rose the only coach in the sport with as many titles, and Penn State one of two teams with as many titles (Stanford holds the record with nine).
Lastly, Rose leaves as the only coach, and Penn State as the only team, to have made every single NCAA tournament appearance since the tournament began.
Rose leaves a great legacy behind, and whoever replaces him will have enormous shoes to fill. That said, they may not have to go at it alone, as Rose has decided to remain in an advisory role within the athletics department. A national search for his replacement is underway.
Congratulations, coach! Enjoy retirement!