UCLA head women’s volleyball coach Michael Sealy has announced the hiring of Kaitlin Nielsen to the post of assistant women’s volleyball coach/recruiting coordinator. Nielsen was a part of the Bruin coaching staff during the 2013 season as a volunteer assistant and was also an assistant during the inaugural year of UCLA sand volleyball last spring.
“It is an absolute honor and privilege to become a full-time member of the UCLA women’s volleyball staff,” Nielsen said. “I have to thank Coach Sealy, the rest of the staff and the UCLA administration for giving me the opportunity to return to this outstanding program. It is a dream come true to be coaching at my alma mater and offer a unique perspective as a former student-athlete to our current student-athletes. By being a part of the program last year, I was able to see an amazing amount of potential with this team and I look forward to getting to work for the 2014 season.”
"I am thrilled to announce the hiring of Kaitlin Nielsen as our new assistant coach/recruiting coordinator,” Sealy said. “Kaitlin has always been a fierce competitor, compassionate teammate and intensely driven to conquer each and every challenge she has faced. I have no doubt that she will work diligently to fine tune a recruiting strategy that will bring dedicated and passionate athletes to UCLA. She is an amazing role model for young student-athletes and someone who will help set the standard of what it means to be a Bruin."
Nielsen, along with head sand coach Stein Metzger, started the sand squad just two months after the sport was added to UCLA’s athletic program. Under their guidance, a pair of doubles teams, Meg Norton and Kelly Reeves and Zoë Nightingale and Becca Strehlow, reached the AVCA National Championships, while Reeves was named the program’s first All-American.
Nielsen (née Sather) returned to her alma mater after a standout career with the Bruins from 2005 to 2009. She appeared in 132 matches and 448 sets, producing 1,501 kills, 1,153 digs, 99 service aces and 279 blocks. Sather stands 11th on UCLA’s all-time kills list, eighth in kills per set (3.35), third in total attacks (4,287), ninth in digs and tied for ninth in sets played. She is only the 12th Bruin to ever record at least 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs for a career.
As a freshman in 2005, Sather led the Bruins in kps (3.81), total attacks (1,214), aces (38) and points (478.5), receiving All-Pac-10 Freshman Team honors. In 2006, Sather helped the Bruins to an appearance in the NCAA National Semifinals, recording double figures in kills in all five Tournament matches. She played in all 37 contests and finished third on the team with 2.95 kps.
In 2007, Sather was named All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention after pacing the Bruins with 3.76 kps and sporting 28 aces, which was third on the squad. She helped UCLA to within one match of another National Semifinal appearance and would earn All-Regional Team honors.
After sitting out the 2008 campaign due to shoulder surgery, as well as a brief stint as a high jumper on the UCLA track and field team in the Spring of 2009, Sather was named an AVCA Honorable Mention All-American in her senior season after leading the Bruins in attacks (1,001) and placing second with 2.86 kps and 3.05 digs per set. She also earned AVCA Honorable Mention All-Region and All-Pac-10 Conference accolades to close her career.
One of only a dozen Bruins to earn three Pac-10 All-Academic selections, including First Team in 2007 and 2009, as well as ESPN The Magazine All-District Third Team in ‘07, Sather graduated from UCLA with a degree in history and minor in education in 2009.
Following her time in Westwood, Nielsen began her professional career, which continues today on the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) Tour. Between 2010 and this summer, she has appeared in 22 events on the AVP, Jose Cuervo Pro Beach Volleyball Series, National Volleyball League, USA Volleyball IDQ and Wide Open Beach Volleyball. Nielsen has also played in two FIVB and three NORCECA events. She finished fourth at the FIVB Anapa Open in July with partner Heather Hughes.
Nielsen replaces Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer, who returns to full-time coaching and running her Long Beach Mizuno club team.