Three away tournaments and 11 home matches will highlight the 2014 UTEP volleyball schedule.
UTEP signs two middle blockers, two outside hitters, and a setter for the 2014 season
Sign up for the 2014 UTEP Volleyball Camp!
Nels Rydberg joins UTEP volleyball staff.
The UTEP volleyball team will continue on the road as the Miners travel to Denton, Texas to face off against UNT at 12 p.m. (MT) on Sunday before taking on I-10 rival NM state in Las Cruces at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Entering her second season at UTEP, Holly Watts brings 20 years of Division I coaching experience, including lengthy stints at Arkansas (1996-2008) and with the Seminoles (2008-13), where she worked with head coach Chris Poole. Together Poole and Watts were instrumental in producing thirteen 20-win seasons in 17 years, with 13 NCAA Tournament appearances during that span.
Watts was named UTEP's head volleyball coach on July 5, 2013.
In her first season with the Orange and Blue, Watts led the Miners to a 9-4 home record and a bid to the Conference USA Championships.
She guided middle blocker Xitlali Herrera to AVCA Division I All-America, AVCA All-Southwest Region first team and All-Conference USA first team honors.
Herrera was the only C-USA middle blocker to play all-six rotations. The senior ranked 23rd nationally, fourth in C-USA and first on the team in kills with 465 including a career high 27 against Tulsa (11/15) and Southern Miss (11/19). The Juarez, Mexico native tallied 29 double-digit kill performances in her last season with the Miners. She rates fourth all-time in program history with 1,182 kills.
Herrera also ranked 14th in the nation, third in C-USA and first on the team in points, totaling 5.11 points per set and was named C-USA Offensive Athlete of the Week after leading the team a 3-0 victory over the Rice Owls with a match-high 12 kills with only one error and .611 hitting percentage. The middle blocker topped off her career with three All-tournament selections.
A native of Devine, Texas, Watts played at Texas from 1989-93 and was elected the team's Most Valuable Player in 1993. The Longhorns were consistently ranked in the nation's top-20 over the course of Watts' collegiate career, including number one her senior season, and won five conference titles, including during her redshirt year of 1989. The team advanced to the NCAA Championship Regional Finals three times and was a regional semifinalist twice. A two-time team captain, Watts garnered All-Southwest Conference honors and was a member of the All-South Region Team her senior year. She won a silver medal as a member of the West Team at the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1990. Watts also played one season for the Texas basketball team (1993-94), averaging 15.4 minutes, 7.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, .593 field goal percentage. Her efforts helped the Longhorns to an SWC title and top-25 ranking.
She began her coaching career at the University of Texas at Arlington (1994-96), while also founding and coaching the Texas Impact Volleyball Club team during that time. Watts moved on to Arkansas in 1996. The next 12 years (1996-2007) saw the Lady Razorbacks fashion a 272-129 mark, including 138-56 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas made NCAA Tournament appearances in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. The Lady Razorbacks were SEC Tournament champions in 1997, tournament runner-up in 2002 and 2003, and claimed nine SEC Western Division titles.
Watts' specific responsibilities at Arkansas included coaching the middle blockers, an assignment that produced the first two All-Americans (Jessica Field, Kim Storey) in program history as well as an honorable mention All-American (Sara Kincaid).
She also founded the Ozark Juniors Volleyball Club team while in Fayetteville.
Since accompanying coach Poole to Florida State in 2008, Watts has been a part of a staff that compiled a 130-34 record, including 80-20 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. In Poole's first season (2008), Florida State registered its first 20-win campaign (21-9) in six years. A year later, the Seminoles captured their first ACC regular season title. They were also ACC champs in 2011 and 2012. The 2009 campaign resulted in 31 victories, including a near-perfect (19-1) league mark. Florida State played in the NCAA Tournament each of the last four seasons (2009-12), reaching the national semifinals in 2011.
Florida State's other accomplishments over the last five years included a no. 7 final national ranking (2011), a 27-match home winning streak, a second team All-American (Jekaterina Stepanova) in 2011, a third team All-American and ACC Player of the Year (Ashley Neff) in 2012, and numerous victories over top-25 opponents. Florida State, USC and Western Kentucky are the only programs in the country to compile 28 wins or more in each of the last two seasons.
As the Seminoles' middle blockers coach, Watts groomed a second team All-American (Brianna Barry), a third team All-American (Neff) and two honorable mention All-Americans (Jordana Price and Sareea Freeman). Barry was the 2009 ACC Player of the Year, and Freeman ranked second nationally in hitting percentage (.438) in 2012. In 2011, Watts was named the AVCA Assistant Coach of the Year after Florida State rated first in the ACC and seventh in the country in blocks per set (2.98). Neff was the national leader in total blocks (197) that year.
Watts was invited to assist with the U.S. National Team for several weeks in the summer of 1998, working with the country's elite volleyball players and then-head coach Mick Haley.
She earned her degree in Kinesiology from Texas in 1994. She graduated in the top five percent of her class at Devine High School (1989) and served as National Honor Society president as a senior. Her prep athletic accomplishments included being tabbed the 1988 San Antonio Express News Sportswoman of the Year. A three-sport star, Watts (formerly Holly Graham) was selected to numerous All-State volleyball and basketball teams and also won a silver medal in the shot put at the state track and field meet in 1988.
Watts lead her volleyball high school team to two State Championships in 1987 and 1988 while making it to the semifinals in 1986. Her talent also guided the basketball team to the state semifinals in 1986-97 and 1988-1989.
She and her husband, John Watts, have two sons, Jeremiah and Jared.