Robinson’s rise

Former national team coach joins Bobcats' staff

By on September 18, 2019

After the 2018 season, the Quinnipiac volleyball team went in a different direction and fired head coach Kris Czaplinski.

The Bobcats hit the restart button after going 9-21, and found a four-time NEC coach of the year and winner of five northeast conference championships.

The man behind the numbers is first-year head coach Kyle Robinson.

Robinson started his career at Air Force from 2006-08. He served as an assistant head coach at the University of Oklahoma from 2015-18. He has a wife, four children and hasn’t been a head coach since 2014 (LIU Brooklyn).

Why did he feel that 2019 was the right time to take another job? He wanted a chance to showcase his coaching skills with a program near his home.

Morgan Tencza
“I’m a Northeast guy and wanted the opportunity to come home,” Robinson said. “As I’ve been through a lot of different programs in my coaching career, family has always been the most important thing. When I had the opportunity to look at the job at Quinnipiac, I’ll be honest I wasn’t totally ready to jump on board until I met the administration. With meeting Bill Mecca (Assistant Athletic Director) and Greg Amodio (Athletic Director) it just felt right.”

Robinson continued by admiring how Quinnipiac cared about more than just volleyball.

“People seem to really care about each other,” Robinson said. “They care about the family of Quinnipiac Bobcats and not just their own sport. You have to like going to work and enjoy the people you work with, and that’s what I felt here.”

Robinson didn’t just a college coach, as he got an opportunity to coach at a national level. He spent time as both a head and assistant coach for the USAW college national and development team from 2011-15.

You might think with all the background in coaching he’s had a lifelong passion for volleyball. However, Robinson only started to pursue volleyball as a junior in high school. Robinson spent his first three years in high school as a swimmer.

Robinson’s high school math teacher convinced him to try volleyball and the rest is history. He dedicated himself to practice the sport each and every day.

The practice led him to playing in countries such as Greece, Puerto Rico, Belgium and the United States. Having national team experience opened Robinson’s eyes of what it means to achieve something.

“When you play at that level, and not that I was best, but it was decent level to where it teaches you how to respect the profession,” Robinson said. “Coming into to the gym and working hard everyday, there’s players and coaches who depend on you. You can say you played at a national level and that’s great, but it can go away very quickly. Someone is behind you trying to take your spot, so it taught me how to be humble and work hard everyday.”

Morgan Tencza
Robinson has to bring the fighting mentality to his new team. He inherited a squad of players that he didn’t get to recruit, and 10 out of the 12 players are sophomores or above.

A plethora of those players have made quite the impact in 2018. Senior setter Maria Pansari led the team in assists (1,126). Junior right side hitter Morgan Sherwin was second on the team in kills (352). Junior middle blocker Gabby Horman led the Bobcats with 86 blocks. Senior libero Alejandra Rodriguez led the Bobcats with 377 digs.

He also gets the sophomore duo of middle blocker Lydia Jones and outside hitter Maggie Baker. Robinson gets to coach senior middle blocker and reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) player of the week Kaleigh Oates.

The issue isn’t the talent on the roster. The main question is how do you get a group of players who are used to playing a certain style to quickly re-adjust to a new one? Robinson believes the answer is simple – to just remember why you’re a part of this team.

“The class structure is what it is,” Robinson said. “At the end of the day, we’re all just volleyball players. So whether you’re a senior and you’ve been here three years, you still have a lot to learn. Our humility and empathy teaches us to respect the jobs that we do for each other.”

Whenever you see a team with an assemblage of veteran talent, it also increases the confidence of taking more chances.

The 2018 Bobcats totaled 1,351 kills, where their opponents totaled 1,439 kills. They had a total of 675 errors to their opponent’s 539. They averaged 12.1 kills per set and .172 total percentage rate.

Quinnipiac finished sixth in the MAAC in hitting percentage, fifth in assists and fifth in kills. The Bobcats reached the MAAC quarterfinals, as they were swept by Fairfield 3-0.
With that in mind, Robinson wants his team to have a change in philosophy and approach towards opponents.

“I’d say we’re definitely more offensive than previous teams here,” Robinson said. “That’s just my mentality. In the past 10-15 years, the game has changed and women have become more athletic. So we have the opportunity to become more offensive and we’re going to take it.”

Morgan Tencza
Despite the small sample size, Robinson has the 2019 squad on the right track. After starting 0-2, they went on a four-game winning streak.

The Bobcats (4-5) lost to the University of New Hampshire 3-1 in their final non-conference matchup. Going into MAAC play, Robinson expects to see improved team chemistry and growth.

“Since we are such a new team, we’re just trying to get better as a unit,” Robinson said. “Every match and practice we’re just trying to gel. We’re trying to trust each other and trying to learn to not have this uncomfortable feeling of being a new team.”

Whether you dislike or like the sport of volleyball, Robinson wants the Quinnipiac community to appreciate the brand of Quinnipiac volleyball.

“We want you guys to love us,” Robinson said. “We want to make sure that when you hear about our program, that we put a smile on your face. I can’t say that was always the case here, we know that we can put a good product out and represent the university a lot better.”

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