- By David Jablonski Staff Writer
Longtime Wittenberg volleyball coach Paco Labrador, who turned the program into a NCAA Division III national power, announced Wednesday he has accepted the head coaching job at Navy.
Evelyn Carus, an Otterbein graduate who joined the program as an assistant coach in March 2016, was named the interim head coach for the 2018 season.
In 15 season with the Tigers, Labrador was 455-71. His team won the national championship in 2011 and was the national runner-up in 2015 and 2017.
Labrador ranks second among active head coaches in all NCAA divisions in career winning percentage (86.5).
“Thank you President Mike Fransden, Athletic Director Gary Williams and the entire Wittenberg University community,” Labrador wrote in a statement. “Fifteen years ago, Wittenberg gave me an opportunity to fulfill my dream of being a head coach. The level of support and love I received from the moment I stepped on campus is truly what makes Wittenberg a special place. Thank you to all the Tiger volleyball alumnae. They are the backbone of this program, always willing to help with a recruit, challenge the team during the alumnae match, contribute to our fundraisers or lose their voice cheering from the stands. I can’t say enough about the current team and the committed culture and leadership they have shown. I teach my daughters to ‘always leave a place a little better than how you found it.’ It’s very hard to leave a place like Witt but reassuring to know that from top to bottom, the program is as healthy as it is has ever been.”
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The Tigers dominated the North Coast Athletic Conference during his tenure. They were 162-2 in conference play and won 14 NCAC tournament titles. Wittenberg appeared in the NCAC tournament in each of Labrador’s 15 seasons.
A 1995 Hiram College graduate, Labrador spent four seasons at Miami University as an assistant coach before being hired at Wittenberg. At Navy, he’ll replace Larry Bock, who retired after the 2017 season, his seventh at Navy. Like Labrador, Bock came to Navy from the Division III level. He coached Juniata to two national championships.
“I am humbled to have the opportunity to continue the tremendous work the volleyball team and staff have invested to develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically,” Labrador said in a statement. “I have the utmost respect for Larry Bock and the culture, skills and staff he has developed. My top priority is to do justice to his work and continue the unparalleled momentum gained from last fall’s historic season.”