Nebraska’s John Cook announces the return of former Husker libero, Kayla Banwarth, as the teams new assistant coach.
With Dani Busboom, who is also a former Husker, decided to leave the program to pursue a head coaching position with Louisville just before the NCAA Tournament, Cook was left to search for a new assistant.
“Whenever I have a chance to hire a former player to coach as Nebraska volleyball, it’s something that I strongly consider because they understand what this program is about,” said Cook. “Kayla’s strengths are her journey to Nebraska as a walk-on, having a great career at Nebraska and going on the beat out all the other liberos in the United States to become one of the top liberos in the world.”
Banwarth recently completed her playing career with the U.S. Nation Team at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, after the team took a third place finish. She has spent time with the U.S. National Team libero since 2011.
“I know Kayla has limited coaching experience at the collegiate level, but her strengths will allow her to develop quickly and take over Dani’s role in recruiting and coaching our liberos and passers,” Cook said.
Banwarth has spent the last two seasons as a volunteer assistant coach with the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team.
“I am extremely honored to rejoin the Nebraska volleyball program as a coach,” said Banwarth. “I want to thank Coach Cook and the rest of the staff for this opportunity. I look forward to learning and growing both as a coach and a person.”
Banwarth joined the Husker’s squad in 2007 as a walk-on, becoming the starting libero halfway through her freshman season and remained in that role until 2010. She received All-Big 12 (as they were a part of that conference until 2011, before moving the the Big Ten) honorable mentions as a junior and senior. Banwarth led the Huskers to the NCAA Semifinals in 2008 and three Big-12 titles; she led Nebraska in all-time career digs until Justine Wong-Orantes surpassed her during the 2016 season. She was also named a two-time Academic All-Big 12 selection and a three-time Big 12 defensive player of the week.
In her professional career, Banwarth played overseas in Azerbaijan, but focused more strictly with just the U.S. National team and coaching at Pepperdine in 2015 and 2016. She was named the best receiver at the 2015 NORCECA Championships, helping Team USA win gold and at the FIVB World Grand Prix in 2016. In 2014, Banwarth helped Team USA to win their first ever gold medal at a major tournament by winning the FIVB World Championships. Lastly, in 2016 she helped lead the team to a third place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Among other awards won, Banwarth was named the 2013 USA Volleyball’s Female Indoor Most Improved Player of the Year and was the runner-up at the FIVB World Champions Cup in the Best Digger category, posting 3.19 digs per set.
“I really like the fact that while Kayla was training with the U.S. National Team, she found the time to volunteer coach for the Pepperdine men’s volleyball team,” said Cook. “So not only did she play at Nebraska and for Team USA, she gained experience under Karch Kiraly and Marv Dunphy, two of the best coaches in the United States.”
A native of Dubuque, Iowa, Banwarth attended Wahlert Catholic High School prior to her Nebraska career. She graduated from Nebraska in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in English.