Donan Cruz named National Coach of the Year

or the fifth time in his 11-year head coaching career, Ball State men’s volleyball head coach Donan Cruz has been named an American Volleyball Coaches Association National Coach of the Year, according to a news release on the school’s website.

Cruz earned the 2022 AVCA Men’s Division I and Division II National Coach of the Year honor after leading the Cardinals to a 23-3 overall record, along with Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association regular season and tournament titles.

Cruz attended Southern High School and played volleyball under head volleyball coach Mike Rabago. Cruz left Guam and graduated from Baldwin High School in Maui in 2001.

Ball State’s historic season under its first-year head coach is scheduled to continue Thursday when it makes its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002. The Cardinals earned the No. 2 seed in the event, as well as a bye into the national semifinals, which will take place at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion on May 5-7 in Los Angeles.

Cruz is the second coach in the program’s history to earn American Volleyball Coaches Association National Coach of the Year while leading the Cardinals, joining 1995 and 1996 honoree Dr. Don Shondell.

Cruz helped restore Ball State’s historic traditions of success by guiding the program to its first outright Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association regular-season championship since 1997. Ball State went 12-2 in league play in 2022, earning Cruz the title of Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association Coach of the Year.

Under Cruz, who was a four-time American Volleyball Coaches Association and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Men’s National Coach of the Year for his work at Grand View, Ball State reached 20 wins for the first time since the 2016 campaign. 

The Cardinals started the season off hot, earning back-to-back wins over defending national champion and ranked No. 1 in Hawaii. The Cardinals also secured a notable win on the road at then-No. 9’s Brigham Young University this season.

In conference action, Cruz helped the Cardinals defeat Lewis on the road for the first time since 2010. Ball State University also swept the two-match season series versus its longest rival, Ohio State, for the first time since 2014.