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UCSB’s Preston to Retire at End of Volleyball Season

Gauchos' all-time winningest coach announces plans to step down after 30 years at helm.

Ken Preston, the winningest coach in UCSB men’s volleyball history and one of the most successful active coaches in the nation, will retire following the 2008 season, his 30th as head of the Gauchos, he announced Sunday. Preston will remain a member of the UCSB Athletics Department through the end of 2008 and will assist in the search for his successor in the spring.

"This just feels like the right time," Preston said. "I wanted to do this at a time that would allow my successor an opportunity to attend Junior Olympics and have things in place for the November (national letter of intent) signing period.

"I also wanted to announce it before the season to get it out of the way and allow the focus of the rest of the season to be on the team."

Preston began his UCSB head coaching career in 1979. In his 29 seasons, he has compiled a 506-364 overall record for a winning percentage of .582. He has guided the program to 21 of its 29 seasons of .500 or better, including 19 winning seasons. His teams have qualified for 19 postseason appearances and in 1988, Preston’s squad advanced to the NCAA Final Four and then the NCAA Championship match.

In 2007, UCSB had one of its most successful seasons in several years with a 20-14 overall record and a 14-8 mark in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. The Gauchos, who climbed as high as No. 3 in the national rankings, posted a victory over UCLA in the quarterfinals of the MPSF Tournament to cap the campaign. Preston recorded his 500th career win with a victory at IPFW in March. The Gauchos are ranked 14th in the 2008 preseason poll.

Preston’s teams have produced 27 All-America and 47 All-MPSF honorees. Last year, Evan Patak and Theo Brunner were named AVCA First Team All-Americans and selected to the All-MPSF first team.

"When I look back at my career, I am really amazed that it’s been this long," Preston said. "Sometimes I think I’ll wake up and it will have been five years, not 30. I’ll remember the players that I’ve been able to coach. Things go up-and-down in terms of wins and losses, but it’s the relationships that last. That’s what matters the most."

UCSB athletic director Gary Cunningham had high praise for his coach.

"Ken Preston has has been a valuable member of our coaching staff," Cunningham. "He has been dedicated and loyal and will be missed greatly. Ken is an outstanding coach, but he is also an outstanding person and he will be missed on all levels."

Before taking over at UCSB, Preston served as head coach at Cal Poly, and then at Wright State in Dayton, Ohio. He also spent two seasons as interim head coach for the Westmont College women’s volleyball team, guiding the Warriors to a fifth-place finish at the NAIA National Tournament in 1990. Westmont posted a 50-18 mark during Preston’s tenure. In addition, Preston has spent time coaching at the international level with the U.S. national and Olympic teams.

A search for Preston’s successor will take place in the spring. Cunningham said Preston will be a key member of the committee assigned to select the new coach.

Scott Flanders is UCSB‘s associate media relations director.

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