The University of Illinois has hired Chris Tamas as their new head women’s volleyball coach, pending the “completion of the university hiring process and Board of Trustees approval.” He becomes the 8th head coach in program history.
Tamas comes to the program from Nebraska, where he joined the Huskers in May of 2015 – just before their NCAA Championship run that fall.
Tamas has spent time working under some of the great coaches in the United States. Prior to Nebraska, where he worked under John Cook, Tamas was an assistant at Cal Poly, and before that he coached at Minnesota under former U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team head coach Hugh McCutcheon.
Tamas has a total of 9 years of coaching at the collegiate level, with his career having started at UC-Riverside.
“My family and I are extremely excited about the opportunity to coach at the University of Illinois,” Tamas said. “Huff Hall is one of the outstanding volleyball venues in the nation, and I’ve always thought the Spike Squad was awesome. Illinois has traditionally been one of the elite programs in the country and the Big Ten Conference is the premier volleyball league in the nation. I can’t wait to work with our team and prepare to compete against the best. I’ve seen this team play for the past two seasons and I’m excited with the level of talent we have and at the talent coming in. We look forward to hitting the ground running.”
Tamas spent 4 years as a player in the U.S. Men’s National Team system (1999, 2003, 2005-2006) and had 34 international caps. He played collegiately at the University of the Pacific and spent 6 years playing professionally overseas.
Tamas replaces Kevin Hambly, who was hired to become the new head coach at arguably the best job in the country Stanford, who last year became the youngest team to ever win an NCAA title in women’s volleyball.
Tamas’ wife, Jennifer, was a four-time All-American middle blocker at Pacific and played on the United States’ 2008 Summer Olympic team that won a silver medal. The formrer Jennifer Joines was a 4-year team captain for Team USA, and coached alongside her husband as a volunteer assistant at both Cal Poly and Nebraska – the family’s last two stops.
Chris Tamas will take over a team that had an up-and-down season in 2016. After being ranked in the top 25 early in the season, the Illini got cold in late October and lost 7 straight in a brutal stretch against Big Ten opponents. That ultimately left the team 7th in the conference with a 10-10 record and out of the NCAA tournament.
Tamas is the second Nebraska assistant to have gotten a big-time head coaching job this offseason. Dani Busboom Kelly was announced in December as the new head coach at the 2015 ACC Champions Louisville. So far, Nebraska coach Cook has hired Kayla Banwarth to help fill out his 2017 staff, and presumably has one more spot to fill with Tamas’ departure.