Categorized | Sports

UH-Hilo volleyball coach Atkinson leaving


Bruce Atkinson will step down as University of Hawaii at Hilo volleyball coach effective Tuesday, February 23 according to UH Hilo Director of Athletics Dexter Irvin.

Atkinson was named coach on April 2, 2007 and made an immediate splash by turning a struggling program into a West Region powerhouse.

“He brought Vulcan volleyball back where it belonged,” said Irvin, “and will leave behind a legacy of success on the floor, in the classroom and in the community.”

Although he faced a short recruiting season in his first year, he brought in five players that would be the foundation of his three seasons in the Pacific West Conference.

By the time the 2007 season was over, Atkinson guided the Vulcans to the PacWest championship with an unblemished 14-0 record in conference play and 23-5 record over the season. That performance earned him PWC Coach of the Year honors and his team PWC player of the year, freshman of the year and newcomer of the year awards. The honors continued into the post season as all-Region and all-America awards continued to roll in.

His team finished 21-7 in his second season and one win shy of a consecutive PacWest title but that didn’t stop the recognition of the team or his players as his team placed four players on the all-conference team, three on the AVCA all-Region team and one on the Daktronics all-Region team.

In his final season, Atkinson guided his senior heavy crew to a top-20 ranking through most of the season. With only one blemish on their record, the 25-1 Vulcans made their first post-season appearance in over a decade before falling in five sets.

Atkinson earned his second PWC Coach of the Year award and his team claimed its second player of the year and newcomer of the year awards. Again, post-season awards poured in with two all-Region and two all-America selections.

“Bruce raised the bar for Vulcan volleyball and athletics during his short tenure here,” said Irvin. “His professionalism, values and character with which he accomplished so much is irreplaceable.

“A search will begin immediately for a qualified interim coach that will help guide our team back to the NCAA playoffs. A national search for the permanent full time coach will begin in the fall.”

Atkinson came to the UH Hilo from the University of Texas at Brownsville where he started the women’s program this past season. As the head coach, he guided the program to a 28-11 record and came within one game of qualifying for the NAIA national tournament.

His first head women’s position was at NAIA Dana College (Blair, Neb.) which he accepted in 2004. His squad finished with an 8-22 record in 2004 and was 17-18 in 2005. Prior to his arrival, the program recorded only two conference wins and a 40-265 record over 10 seasons.

Atkinson broke into coaching in 1999 as an assistant girl’s volleyball coach at Baldwin Park High School (Calif.). He moved onto the junior college the following season as an assistant at Merced College (Calif.) and remained with the program until 2004.

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