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Nelson Named Gonzaga Volleyball Head Coach

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SPOKANE, Wash. -- Gonzaga volleyball's Diane Nelson has been named head coach, as announced by GU athletic director Mike Roth Thursday.

"I am grateful for this opportunity to become the new head volleyball coach at Gonzaga University," said Nelson. "I'd like to thank Mike Roth and the rest of the administration for entrusting me to take this program to another level. My experiences both as an athlete and a coach have prepared me to continue to recruit and develop capable student-athletes. Filling Coach [Dave] Gantt's shoes will not be easy, but considering my time working alongside him, I am ready for what is next."

She takes over for Dave Gantt, who has accepted a position as Vice President for Athletics at the University of Great Falls.

Nelson joined the staff before the 2011 season and has been an integral part of Gonzaga volleyball's rise, which includes the program's first back-to-back winning seasons since 1989 and 1990 over the last two years.

On the court, Nelson has helped shape the Zags' offense into one of the top-ranked attacks in the West Coast Conference. In 2015, the Zags finished second in the West Coast Conference with a .251 hitting percentage and third with 1,607 kills, and the year before they were among the nation's Top 20 in kills, assists, kills per set, and assists per set. She also took over recruiting coordinator duties during the 2015 season.  

A former Bulldog herself, Nelson is the first alum to take the reins of the volleyball program. She played from 1995-98 and is one of 12 Zags who've posted 1,000 career kills, ending with 1,094. She's eighth on the all-time service aces list with 95, and she earned a spot on the conference All-Academic squad as a senior in 1998.

In addition to her college experience, Nelson played professionally on the AVP and FIVB Tours, winning two tournaments and earning a Top 32 ranking. While starting out as a professional, she also coached at Santa Fe Christian High School in Solana Beach, Calif., for five years. She led the school to four state title matches, winning in 2003 and 2005. Before coming to Gonzaga, she spent 10 years as the Coaching Director for the Solana Beach Volleyball Club, coaching the club's national-level teams. She also helped both coaches and athletes develop their technical skills in the sport.

Gantt spent seven seasons at Gonzaga, accumulating 75 wins -- third-most in Gonzaga history -- and twice leading the Zags to a sixth-place finish in the WCC, their highest since 2001.  

A native of Grass Valley, Calif., Nelson and her husband Ryan live in the Spokane area. They have a son named Mason.