RJ Abella Joins Gamecock Volleyball Staff as an Assistant Coach|
March 26, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Filling out his coaching staff for the upcoming fall 2013 season, South Carolina head volleyball coach Scott Swanson hired RJ Abella, who spent the past six years helping Missouri Valley power Wichita State to its best NCAA finish in history with a regional semifinal appearance in 2012.
In addition to Abella's addition to the staff, Swanson promoted Julie Darty to associate head coach/recruiting coordinator. Darty will return for her second year at South Carolina this fall.
"We are extremely happy to be adding RJ to our staff!" said Gamecock head volleyball coach Scott Swanson. "RJ is a very multi-talented coach and will be a huge help in the continuation of our building process."
Abella coached three AVCA All-Americans and nine All-MVC student-athletes during his time as an assistant coach at Wichita State. The Shockers ranked as high as ninth in 2008 in the AVCA poll and made six-straight NCAA Tournaments, culminating in the regional semifinal appearance this past season. Abella also assisted in every area of the Shockers' program, breaking down video and helping with scouting, communicating with academics, athletic training and strength and conditioning staffs and working with recruiting.
Getting his start in coaching as an assistant with the Newman (Kan.) women's team, Abella started as a manager at Wichita State before working his way into a full-time role on Chris Lamb's staff.
Abella has also coached on the national circuit, helping the USA A2 National Team to a second-place finish in the 2009 USA Open Championships. Abella served as a head coach and the club director with the ICT Elite Volleyball Club in Wichita.
A former player, Abella served as a team captain for the Newman men's volleyball team during his three years, a squad that made the national tournament during his playing years. A team captain for the Jets, Abella earned Male Student-Athlete of the Year honors as a junior. Abella also served as the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president. He transferred across town to Wichita State to complete his bachelor's degree in communication with a minor in psychology in 2009.
South Carolina posted its second winning volleyball season in the past decade in 2012, going 18-14 in Swanson's second year at the helm. Juliette Thévenin returns after earning second-team All-SEC accolades as a junior.