UNLV Athletics announces coaching changes for Rebel volleyball

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Dakota Quinlan (2) and Thea Sweder (14) get a block at the net for UNLV volleyball during their five-set win against Utah State Thursday night at Cox Pavilion. Photo by Jordan McCray.

The UNLV Director of Athletics recently announced that Malia Shoji was named the new head coach of the Rebel volleyball program.

The staffing change was made after the team won the regular season Mountain West

championship and as they seek titles and championships in the higher levels.

“With our program at UNLV coming off of a Mountain West regular-season championship and

another trip to the NCAA Tournament,” UNLV Director of Athletics Erick Harper said, “ we were looking for someone who knows how to win at a high level and can further the trajectory of the success that has been established.” 

Harper said Shoji shares in the university’s “overall approach” to student-athlete development and has the experience that UNLV was looking for to lead the team. 

Shoji comes to UNLV with a long personal history of volleyball experience and not only brings

her collegiate coaching experience to the program but professional experiences as well.

The newly-named coach spent the last eight seasons with the University of Utah volleyball

program and the last five as its associate head coach. 

There she helped lead the Utes to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including two Sweet 16’s and three consecutive third place finishes in the Pac-12 Conference. Shoji also coached Utah’s only two First Team All-Americans in 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

“Malia grew up in the gym and has coaching in her DNA,” Harper said. “Not only can she

teach the game, but she will lead our young women in the classroom and in the community,

and she values how to help prepare them for life after college. We had a very competitive pool

of candidates and I am confident that our committee found a great next leader for our Rebels.”

The Shoji family is a major name in the volleyball community. Her father was a NCAA coach for more that 30 years, her uncle was the second all-time career winning coach for Hawaii and her two cousins have both played professionally for the USA olympic team.

Shoji has been welcomed to the UNLV community with much excitement for the growth and

knowledge she can bring to the University. With her dreams of being a head coach becoming a reality, she expressed her excitement and eagerness to work with the Rebels.

“This program has a strong foundation of success and I cannot wait to start a new chapter with the talented and dedicated women in this program,” said Shoji. “I am eager to get started together in our pursuit of greatness both on and off the court. Becoming a head coach has always been a dream of mine and there is no better school than UNLV and no better place than Las Vegas. The flourishing volleyball community in this city is one that I am thrilled to be a part of.”

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