Central Arkansas volleyball head coach Jeni Jones Chatman has completed her coaching staff for the upcoming season, announcing the return of John Newberry to the Sugar Bears’ bench on Thursday. Newberry will serve as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
“We are thrilled to add John back to the UCA Volleyball program,” said Chatman. “Like Marissa [Collins], he was a big part of the rich tradition of success in this great program. John brings a tremendous personality, work ethic, and knowledge of the game. UCA is home for him, and his love for Central Arkansas, and the Purple and Gray, radiates from him.”
Chatman continued, saying, “With John’s eye for talent, the wide variety of majors we offer, and our gorgeous campus, I have no doubt that we will continue to bring in the highest quality student-athletes to represent UCA in a first-class manner.”
A native of Crossett, Arkansas, Newberry first joined the Central Arkansas family as an All-American punter for UCA’s football team from 2000-2003 before serving as an assistant coach for UCA Volleyball for the 2012, 2013, and 2014 seasons. He helped lead the Sugar Bears to an overall record of 79-21 (.790) and a mark of 46-6 in Southland Conference play (.885) in addition to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2012 and 2013 and three-straight SLC Tournament Finals appearances.
“I was in Conway for 15 years, from college until two years ago, so this is home for me,” said Newberry. “We won a good chunk while I was here, Jeni has done a great job, and I really feel like we have a chance to win the conference again, and I really want to help her, Marissa, and the team put more banners on the wall.”
Newberry has spent the past two seasons at Mississippi State, helping the Bulldogs to two of the most successful seasons in over a decade. With Newberry’s help, MSU won at least 14 matches in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2005-2006. Newberry also coordinated a Bulldog blocking scheme that in 2016 saw MSU put up 260.5 blocks, a total that is good for eighth-most in program history, and 12 matches with at least 10 blocks, the most in program history.
“At the SEC level, the girls are bigger and they jump higher, but they don’t necessarily hit harder, so the game is still the same,” said Newberry. “It’s still Division I volleyball. When I was as UCA before, we beat ranked teams and we beat SEC teams, and we can still do that.”
Newberry and the Sugar Bears open the 2017 season with a pair of exhibitions, playing their annual Purple and Gray Scrimmage on August 18th and their Alumni match on August 19th. The regular season kicks off on August 25th and 26th, when UCA travels to Buffalo, New York to face off with Canisius (11:00 AM, Aug. 25th), Hampton (3:00 PM, Aug. 25th), and Buffalo (11:30 AM, Aug. 26th.) The Sugar Bears will make their home debut with back-to-back tournaments at the Farris Center on the weekends of August 31st-September 2nd and September 7th-9th. The UCA Invitational will see UCA take on Little Rock (7:00 PM, Aug. 31st), Memphis (7:00 PM, Sept. 1st), and UT-Martin (1:30 PM, Sept. 2nd), while the UCA Classic will feature matches against Arkansas State (7:00 PM, Sept. 7th), Southern (7:00 PM, Sept. 8th), and Central Florida (1:30 PM, Sept. 9th).
Press Release courtesy of UCA Athletics.