The University of Georgia volleyball program is excited to announce that head coach, Tom Black, will have additional duties over the next two years. He has been named to coach at the highest level and lead the Canadian women's indoor national team over the next two summers looking toward the 2020 Olympic Games.
Tom Black, an accomplished collegiate and international coach, was named the seventh head coach of the Georgia volleyball program in December 2016. In his first season at the helm, Black took a Georgia team that had one Southeastern Conference win in two seasons to a fifth-place finish in the league. The Bulldogs concluded the the 2017 campaign with a 22-12 overall record and a 10-8 SEC clip. Finishing fifth, the Bulldogs clinched an automatic bid to the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC), advancing to the semifinal round.
Under Black’s instruction, the 2017 team finished second in the SEC in kills per set (13.75), fourth in hitting percentage (.243), and first in aces per set (1.57). In all, the Bulldogs finished in the top four of every offensive categroy in the conference. In RPI, Georgia made one of the greatest turnarounds from the prior season, jumping 132 spots to 57.
Black comes to Athens with 12 years of NCAA collegiate head coaching experience with time at UC San Diego and Loyola Marymount, accumulating a career record of 242-115 after posting six seasons with 20-plus wins.
Working with some of the top athletes in the country, Black has been extremely active with the U.S. Women's National Team over the last few years, working alongside U.S. head coach Karch Kiraly. Black most recently served on the staff at the 2016 Rio Olympic games as an assistant coach, as the United States garnered a bronze medal. “Tom has played a pivotal role in the development and success of our USA Women's Team since he joined our staff in 2013, especially through his program-wide focus on learning and growth,” said Kiraly.
Black spent the last seven seasons at Loyola Marymount, leading the Lions to 127 wins and three NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2015 after upsetting No. 13 Colorado State and No. 6 Stanford. His team notched back-to-back 20-wins seasons in 2014 and 2015. In 2014, the Lions entered the AVCA Top 25 Poll at No. 23 and held a national ranking for five weeks.
During his stint, 21 student-athletes earned All-West Coast Conference honors while he oversaw four AVCA All-America selections and six AVCA All-Region picks. Black saw one of his players earn the WCC Defensive Player of the Year in four of the last six years while also garnering AVCA Region Freshman of the Year in 2014.
Prior to LMU, Black served at the helm of Division II UC San Diego women’s team for five seasons. Black went 115-29 with the Tritons and had his team ranked in the AVCA national poll every week for his final four seasons. UCSD ranked as high as No. 2 in 2009 while finishing in the top 10 in two seasons. The 2006 Tachikara/AVCA D-II Pacific Region Coach of the Year, Black coached 20 All-Conference honorees as well as four All-America selections.
Black is heavily involved with the U.S. Women's National Team, culminating in his selection as an assistant coach with the team in March of 2013. Black was with the team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, helping guide the United States to a bronze medal. Black also assisted with Team USA prior to the team winning their first world championship gold medal at the FIVB World Championship in October 2014 while the team went on to win the 2015 World Grand Prix Championship and a Bronze Medal at the World Cup.
Before being named as an assistant within the program, Black spent three consecutive summers as a consultant coach as the National Team prepared for the 2012 London Games.
Prior to his time at UCSD, Black spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the men's volleyball program at USC. He also served as the men’s head coach at Pierce Junior College and Thousand Oaks High School as well as an assistant for Pierce Junior College’s women’s team and Royal High School’s boy’s team.
Black received his bachelor’s degree in political science from UCSD in 1996 where he was also a four-year letterwinner, setting numerous hitting records and earning All-MPSF honorable mention notice as a senior in 1996. The California native was Volleyball Magazine's Small College Player of the Year in 1996, while also earning Small College All-America honors that same year.
Aaron Benning joined the Georgia volleyball staff in January 2017 as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator.
“Aaron is one of the nation’s best recruiters,” said Georgia head coach Tom Black, as Benning will act as the Bulldogs’ recruiting coordinator. “He believes in what we are trying to do, and he believes in the young ladies we will end up offering to. He also has a very high business acumen, which often can’t be observed by fans or players, but the benefits for the program will be clear. He is passionate about coaching, learning and developing our student-athletes to be the best they can be. It means a ton to me Aaron would take this exciting next chapter with me to UGA and we are lucky to have him.”
Benning previously served in the same capacity for three seasons at Loyola Marymount under Black as well. Prior to LMU, Benning served as the Director of Sports for City Beach Volleyball Club since 2004, and spent a total of seven years, including three as head women's volleyball coach, at Ohlone College.
While at LMU, Benning helped the Lions to two NCAA appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 after upsetting nationally-ranked Colorado State and Stanford in Palo Alto. In addition to LMU’s NCAA showings, Benning assisted in notching a pair of 20-win seasons. The 24 wins LMU recorded in 2015 were the most for the program since collecting 26 in 2003. That same season LMU also finished third in the West Coast Conference, another best for the team since 2003. Benning saw LMU roll in accolades during his three years, including four AVCA All-America selections, six AVCA All-Region picks, an AVCA Region Freshman of the Year and 11 All-Conference honorees along with the Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.
Benning helped City Beach win nine Junior National Medals and over 180 Regional and National Tournaments. Consistently one of the top-25 volleyball clubs in the nation, Benning guided over 155 of his City Beach players into collegiate volleyball programs since 2006. In addition to coaching, Benning was responsible for many of the management and executive functions.
At the high school level, Benning coached numerous successful Bay Area programs. Working as a high school and juniors coach, he maintained a .710 winning percentage over nine seasons. Benning also served as a Lead Camp Coach and a member of the Coaching Clinic Staff for Gold Medal Squared since May 2007. Prior, Benning was the head coach of Ohlone College from 1998-2005.
Benning, a graduate of Yerba Buena High School in San Jose, California, earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Recreational Management from Cal State East Bay in 2014.
Felicia Arriola was named as assistant coach for Georgia volleyball in January 2017 after spending the last eight seasons as a player and coach at Loyola Marymount.
“Felicia has been with me for a while, as a collegiate player and coach, and watching her growth and development over the past seven years has been a wonder,” said Georgia head coach Tom Black. “She can grind with the best of them, and the initiative she takes to constantly improve her craft is an incredible example for our players. She is an excellent coach with a sharp eye and a passion to dive into the details of our craft that others might get bored or frustrated with. Watching her evolution has been a great learning process for me. As grateful as I am to have her here, I’m even more excited for all she will give to our student-athletes.”
In her last three seasons at LMU, Arriola was an assistant coach for the Lions, guiding the team to a pair of NCAA appearances, including a historic run to the Sweet 16 in 2015 after knocking off nationally-ranked Colorado State and top-10 Stanford in Palo Alto. Along with the postseason action, Arriola helped LMU to two 20-win seasons. The 24 wins LMU recorded in 2015 were the most for the program since collecting 26 in 2003. In 2015 LMU also finished third in the West Coast Conference, another best for the team since 2003. Under Arriola’s guidance, LMU had four AVCA All-America selections, six AVCA All-Region picks, an AVCA Region Freshman of the Year and 11 All-Conference honorees along with the Defensive Player of the Year in 2016.
Arriola stepped into coaching after completing a successful collegiate career at LMU and has quickly proven herself as one of the top young coaches, as she was named to the 2016 AVCA Thirty Under 30 Awards list.
Arriola has learned from some of the best coaches in the nation, spending her summers as an intern with the USA Women's National Team alongside Black who was an assistant with Team USA. In addition, she also served as an instructor at a pair of Gold Medal Squared volleyball camps during the summer of 2014.
Over five years as a Lion player, including a 2011 season in which she missed the entire year due to offseason surgery but was still a captain and leader from the sidelines, Arriola amassed 752 kills to rank 22nd in LMU history. Completing her playing career in 2013 before graduating in 2014 with a degree in pre-physical/occupational therapy, Arriola also posted 882 digs at a rate of 2.34 per set.
The Laguna Niguel, California, native was an integral player in building the LMU sand volleyball program, earning a spot in the 2013 AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championships pairs bracket. Arriola also coached the sand volleyball team, as the squad entered the 2015 season ranked No. 5 in the nation.
David Dantes joined the Georgia volleyball staff in 2017, fulfilling the role of Director of Volleyball Operations.
Dantes comes to Athens following a six-year stint at the University of California as the Golden Bears' Director of Operations. He served as Volunteer Coach during the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
The East Bay, California native added professional experience to his resume when he served on the technical support team for the USA Men's National Team at the 2016 Rio Olympics. His responsibilities included a vast knowledge of statistical and video work during the Olympics.
Dantes' second stint in Berkeley came by way of New Haven, Connecticut, where he was an assistant coach for the Yale volleyball program under head coach Erin Appleman. With his help, the Bulldogs finished 2010 with a share of the Ivy League championship, a 12-2 conference record, and an 18-8 overall mark. Dantes served one season as a volunteer assistant in 2009 before he was promoted to a full-time position.
While serving as a volunteer, he was also the head coach of the Yale women's club volleyball team. The club secured its first league title by winning the Northeast Women's League (NWVCL) championship. Dantes' guidance saw the Bulldogs to their first appearance in the NCVF (National Club Volleyball Federation) Division II National Championship tournament where they captured the national title.
During his two seasons as a volunteer assistant coach at Cal, the Golden Bears made history with their first finish as an NCAA semifinalist. The 2007 squad finished ranked No. 4 in the nation during his first season at Berkeley. In 2008, the team earned a No. 6 finish, and reached the regional finals of the NCAA tournament for just the second time in school history.
Dantes earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, with a minor in religion, from Boston University in May 2007. He competed for the Terriers' men's club volleyball team.
Brandon Row comes to the University of Georgia as the volunteer assistant coach, beginning in the Spring of 2019. Row will assist with the Bulldogs’ defense systems and serving.
Row joins the Georgia staff from Carson-Newman in Knoxville where he served as an assistant coach for three seasons. During his time on the Eagles’ staff, Row operated Data Volley to provide strategic analysis to scout opponents and develop real-time match plans. Row was in charge of developing scout files for opponents and assisted players with film study and fundamental breakdown. He worked with the middle blockers and led Carson-Newman's community outreach for the volleyball program.
He graduated from Carson-Newman in 2016 and will graduate with his graduate degree in education in May 2019.
Outside of his role for the Eagles, Row worked with club teams in Knoxville, volleyball camps, and community leagues across East Tennessee.