Chris Riley is entering his sixth season as head coach of the Virginia Tech volleyball team.
In 2010, Riley led the Hokies to arguably their best season in program history. Under his direction, the Hokies defeated an AVCA top-25 opponent for the first time in school history (No. 25 Florida State, W 3-2, Oct. 29), and they earned their first ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Hokies went 20-12, 10-10 in the ACC, and went undefeated (6-0) in neutral matches for the first time ever. Not only did the Hokies go to the NCAA Tournament, but they defeated Delaware, 3-0, in the first round, and put up a strong fight against fourth-seeded Penn State in the second round, who went on to win its fourth straight national title. Additionally, he coached the first pair of Hokies to ever earn All-America honors in the same season, as Felicia Willoughby and Cara Baarendse both picked up honorable mentions.
Riley coached the Hokies to a 12-3 record in Cassell Coliseum in 2009, picking up the most home wins since 1998, when the Hokies went 12-2 on their own court. It was just the sixth time in Hokie history that the team won 12 or more matches at home. Tech finished with a 19-12 overall record, going 9-11 in ACC play and finishing in a tie with Wake Forest for seventh. Under his direction, Felicia Willoughby once again took home several impressive awards, including AVCA First Team All-East Region and All-America Honorable Mention. Sophomores Justine Record and Erin Leaser both earned VaSID Second Team All-State honors. Senior libero Jill Gergen set a new Tech record for digs in a match, registering 37 against Clemson on October 19, and Cara Baarendse broke the record for freshman hitting percentage, going .354 on the season.
In 2008, Riley took a young squad welcoming seven newcomers and turned it into a strong ACC contender. The Hokies went 20-11, 11-9 in the ACC, winning 20 matches for the first time since 2002, and sat atop the ACC standings for much of the conference season. Tech also won 11 straight matches at one point in the season, matching the longest winning streak in school history. Sophomore Felicia Willoughby blossomed under Riley’s direction, breaking the school record and leading the ACC in season hitting percentage (.402). Willoughby led the team in kills (326) and blocks (117), and captured honorable mention All-America, First Team All-AVCA East Region, First Team All-ACC and First Team All-State accolades. Riley also helped develop freshman setter Erin Leaser, who tallied 1,084 assists on the year, fifth-most among Tech freshmen all time. Leaser earned a spot on the ACC All-Freshman team, received Second Team All-State honors and was named the state’s Rookie of the Year by the Virginia Sports Information Directors of America.
Riley guided a young Tech squad to a 14-18 record in 2007, and an 8-14 mark in the ACC, tying for eighth place in the conference. Riley led the group to the program’s 550th victory, coming over Wake Forest on Oct. 20, and its second consecutive sweep of the Hawthorn Suites Hokie Invitational. The Hokies set Virginia Tech records with 611 block assists and 394.5 total blocks as a team in 2007. Willoughby flourished in her rookie campaign, having one of the best seasons ever for a Hokie freshman. The Pleasanton, Calif., native set a Tech record with 172 total blocks on the season, ranking first in the ACC and 11th in the nation. Willoughby also broke a Hokie record with 143 block assists.
In 2006, Riley led the team to its best finish since joining the ACC. The Hokies finished with a 17-14 overall record, their first winning season since 2002. Tech won a school-record 11 conference matches, including season sweeps of the 2005 Co-ACC Champions and NCAA Tournament participants Maryland and North Carolina, en route to a sixth-place finish in the league.
Prior to coming to Tech, Riley spent six seasons at Towson University, where he led the team to five straight 20-win seasons, three Colonial Athletic Association regular season championships, the 2004 CAA tournament championship and the 2004 NCAA Tournament. He won the CAA Coach of the Year award in 2003, and the America East Coach of the Year award in 2001. Riley had an overall record of 144-54 at Towson.
Before his stint at Towson, Riley spent six years at St. John’s University in New York. While serving as an assistant with the Red Storm, Riley helped lead the team in its inaugural year as a Division I program. He implemented off-season training programs and assisted with recruiting. Riley also started the first volleyball camp at St. John’s.
Riley also spent one season as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Jacksonville University.
A 1993 graduate of Jacksonville with a bachelor of arts in English, he played for the Dolphins’ golf team and formed the men’s volleyball club. He was the captain of the volleyball club as a senior.
Riley has competed in beach and USA Volleyball indoor leagues and tournaments. In addition to his college coaching experience, Riley also served as the head coach for the Long Island-Big Apple Volleyball Club, a nationally recognized junior team in Nassau, N.Y., from 1998-2000.
Riley and his wife, the former Tara Cahill, are the parents of sons, Aidan and Quinn, and a daughter, Kieran. They reside in Blacksburg, Va.