The 11th head coach in Gamecock Volleyball history, Scott Swanson aims to build off a strong 2016 campaign as he begins year seven with the program. The Gamecocks will lean on a young but talented core that helped the team finish last season with 18 wins, tied for the most under Swanson.
The team started 2016 with a 12-match win streak, sweeping all four of its preseason tournaments for the best start since 2012. A handful of first-year players showed early on that they would be key factors in the team's success, as freshmen Mikayla Shields, Courtney Koehler, Claire Edwards and Alicia Starr stepped in to major playing time in the non-conference.
The young Gamecocks would be challenged in the SEC, finishing 9th overall with a 6-12 record. South Carolina faced the toughest conference schedule of any SEC team, with home and away match ups with each of the top four finishers. Despite the adversity, the team picked up its first wins over a ranked team in 10 years after beating No. 21 Missouri at home, erased a 2-0 deficit to Miss. State on the road, and earned its first road win over LSU since 2003. Shields was honored with SEC All-Freshman team honors in the postseason, and also was one of just two freshmen to make the AVCA's All-Region team.
The Gamecocks faced a season of different adversities in 2015, coming from untimely injuries and a roster featuring six freshmen who all were asked to fill important roles. The team bonded through the rigors of the season, and picked up impressive wins over Tennessee, Ole Miss, and a season sweep of Arkansas. Swanson moved into third in program history for wins in a career after winning his 72nd game at South Carolina on Oct. 25. Individually, freshman Aubrey Ezell finished with perhaps one of the best debut seasons ever by a Gamecock, finishing the season with the second-most assists ever in the program's rally-scoring era and a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team.
It would not just be the freshmen who would surprise, the team also saw breakout seasons from Dessaa Legros and Sarah Blomgren. Senior Darian Dozier capped her career in style, moving up to third in program history for career blocks and entered the top ten in hitting percentage as well. Off the court, the team volunteered over 1100 for community service, the most of any team at South Carolina.
In 2014, the Gamecocks posted a 17-14 record, which included seven SEC wins, the program's most since 2008. Libero Mikaela Christiaansen set the program record for most digs in a single season with 535, while middle blocker Darian Dozier set single-season rally scoring era school records for total blocks (141) and block assists (127). The Gamecocks also turned in another strong year in the classroom, as a league-best 12 players made the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.
During the 2013 season, outside hitter Juliette Thévenin became just the second Gamecock in school history to earn AVCA All-America honors as she was named honorable mention All-American. Thévenin was also a first-team AVCA All-Southeast Region and All-SEC selection as she left the program ranked in the top 10 in six career categories.
Swanson guided the Gamecocks to an 18-14 record in 2012, the program's second winning season in the last decade. South Carolina got off to a program-best 13-0 start and improved its hitting percentage for a second straight season, ranking second in the SEC with a percentage of .255, an improvement of 29 points from the previous year. Outside hitter Juliette Thévenin garnered second-team All-SEC honors after she ranked second in SEC play with 4.40 kills per set and 4.81 points per set, becoming the first Gamecock since 2008 to receive an All-SEC award.
In Swanson's first season, the Gamecocks went 14-16 and improved its offensive efficiency and its backline defense under his guidance. The team led the SEC with a 16.78 digs average, the best mark in four years for the Gamecocks, and hit .226, a 45-point improvement from the 2011 season.
Swanson's teams have also proved themselves in the classroom, earning the Team Academic Award from the American Volleyball Coaches Association in 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14. In his first five seasons, 49 student-athletes have earned a spot on the SEC Academic honor roll, including eight of the nine eligible players from 2015. The team also claimed the department's Life Skills Team of the Year award in 2011-12, honoring the group for its academic achievements, personal development and work in the community.
Prior to his current head coaching job, Swanson spent five years on the sidelines for the Golden Gophers, helping the team to five-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and a 125-46 record. Three times, Minnesota finished second in the Big Ten behind perennial power Penn State. The 2009 team advanced to the national semifinals in the NCAA Tournament.
During his tenure in Minneapolis, five Golden Gophers earned All-America accolades, including 2009 first-team middle blocker and 2012 US National Team pool member Lauren Gibbemeyer. Swanson also led the Gophers' recruiting efforts, posting three top-10 recruiting classes according to PrepVolleyball.com. The 2009 group earned top honors from the outlet.
In the summer of 2009, Swanson spent time with USA Volleyball's A-2 Junior National Team, and he coached the USA Red team to a second-place showing in the 2008 USA Adult Open Championships.
Swanson brings in four years of head coaching experience to Columbia after his tenure at the University of Texas-El Paso. With a 50-61 career record, Swanson had the team on the brink of the NCAA Tournament in 2005, when the Miners went 21-10. Three player earned all-conference honors under Swanson's tutelage, including honorable mention All-American Kari Stacy. He also inked a high school All-American and saw his team improve in the classroom to a department-best 3.2 GPA in 2005.
Prior to UTEP, Swanson spent six years at his alma mater, Arizona State. He helped the team to two NCAA Tournament appearances during his time in Tempe and coached one second-team All-American and two Pac-10 All-Freshman Team players. Two of his Sun Devil players garnered Academic All-America certificates as well.
Swanson started his coaching career at Mountain View (Ariz.) High School, working as an assistant with the varsity team and leading his junior varsity group to a 17-1 record. As a head coach with the Arizona East Valley Juniors club, he led a 16-1s team to a national runner-up finish and earned Cactus Region Coach of the Year honors. He also served as head coach at Camelback High School before landing the job with Arizona State, where he also played club volleyball.
A graduate of ASU, Swanson is married to the former Erin Meier. The couple has two daughters, Rylee Sue and Haylen Rae.
Swanson's Employment Timeline
Swanson's Education Timeline