Joel McCartney is no stranger to success and enters his fourth season at the helm of the Cougar volleyball program. McCartney currently boasts a career record of 392-210 (.651). During his time at USF, he has steered the program’s foray into NCAA Division II competition and led the Cougars to unforeseen heights in just their second season as a member of the nationally regarded Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
McCartney guided the Cougars to a 19-12 (10-10 NSIC) record in 2013, a five-win improvement from the previous season. USF also doubled its conference win total (5-15 in 2012) to finish 7th in the NSIC standings and earn the program’s first-ever bid to the NSIC postseason tournament. USF got off to a 7-1 start and improved its hitting percentage for the third straight season, ranking sixth in the NSIC with a percentage of .226, an improvement of 11 points from the previous year.
The Cougars notched a pair of signature wins in 2013, first battling back from two sets down to defeat rival Augustana College for the first time in more than 30 years. The “Rally Cats” appeared again in late October to pull off the biggest win in program history, rallying from a 2-0 deficit to stun the sixth-ranked Southwest Minnesota State Mustangs for USF’s first-ever win against a NCAA Division II-ranked opponent.
Outside hitter Emily Johnson and middle blocker Samantha Lovell both garnered second-team All-NSIC honors in 2013, becoming the first Cougars to receive an All-NSIC award. Johnson led the team in kills (391) for the third straight season while Lovell ranked third in the NSIC with 1.12 blocks per set and paced the Cougars’ offense for the third year in a row with a .309 attack clip.
USF also earned the AVCA Team Academic Award for the fifth consecutive season.
The accolades weren’t just limited to the student-athletes, as McCartney was named to the Big South Conference’s All-Decade (2000-09) Volleyball Team. A two-time Big South Coach of the Year, McCartney spent six seasons (2001-06) as the head coach at Winthrop University (S.C.).
The Cougars went 14-16 in 2012 (McCartney’s second year) and improved its offensive efficiency and its backline defense under his guidance. The team finished with an average of 11.2 assists per set, the best mark in five years for the Cougars, and hit .215, a 20-point improvement from the 2011 season and the fifth-best hitting clip in the NSIC.
USF improved its kills average from 11.5 in 2011 to 11.9 in 2012 and finished fourth in the league with 170 total service aces. McCartney’s team also proved themselves in the classroom, earning the Team Academic Award from the American Volleyball Coaches Association in 2011-12. In addition, all eight Cougars that were eligible for the Fall 2012 NSIC All-Academic volleyball team received the honor.
In McCartney's first year as head coach, the Cougars finished 3rd in the Locos Grill Division II Transitional Tournament and closed out the 2011 campaign by winning seven of their last ten matches.
A Cougar volleyball program that had struggled offensively the past few years racked up 1,764 total kills-the highest total for a USF squad since the 2003 season.
The 2011 season will also be remembered as a collection of fantastic individual accomplishments. Freshman Emily Johnson recorded 451 kills, which is the fourth-best single season in school history. Junior college transfer Chanda Goedken (Kirkwood) also etched her name in the record book, posting 417 kills for the sixth-best single season mark.
Freshman Charlee Nelson put together the best year for a Cougar setter since the 1999 season, as she tallied 977 assists (sixth-highest ever).
The Cougars continued the tradition of excellence in the classroom as 10 student-athletes received the 2011-12 USF Student-Athlete All-Academic award and the team was awarded the American Volleyball Coaches Associations (AVCA) Team Academic Award for sporting a 3.55 GPA in the classroom.
McCartney came to USF in July 2011 after a four-year stint as the head coach of the University of Georgia volleyball program. In McCartney's tenure, the Bulldogs compiled an overall record of 62-55.
McCartney's time at Georgia concluded with his career record standing at 344-155.
In his first season at UGA in 2007, McCartney led the Bulldogs to the biggest turnaround in program history, as that year's squad posted a 17-13 record following just a six-win campaign in 2006.
The 2007 Bulldogs also posted eight conference victories; the most league wins for the program since 2004. Georgia's 17 total wins and eight SEC wins surpassed the combined total number of overall and conference wins from both the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
In 2008, Georgia went 17-14 with a 10-10 record in SEC action under the guidance of McCartney, who entered the season poised to reach a career milestone of his own. With the Bulldogs' 3-0 sweep of the Furman Paladins on August 31 in the Georgia Bulldog Invitational Tournament, McCartney achieved his 300th collegiate-career head coaching victory. The highlight of the Bulldogs' season was an upset of the No. 8-ranked Florida Gators. The win by the Bulldogs snapped a 45-match losing streak to the Gators, which dated back to 1990.
The 2009 Bulldogs finished with an overall record of 17-14 including an 8-12 SEC mark which gave Georgia a 5th place finish in the conference, UGA's highest finish in the SEC since 2004. In league action, Georgia captured its eight victories by sweeping the two-match, season-series with Auburn and Mississippi State while splitting series with Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss and South Carolina.
In 2010, Georgia opened the season on a six-match winning streak including a 4-0 mark to win the Deacon Invitational tournament title. The Bulldogs went on to carry an 8-4 mark into the start of the conference season and would pull off a five-set upset over 20th-ranked Tennessee in late September.
Prior to his tenure at Georgia, McCartney coached Winthrop University (South Carolina) to a 167-49 record in six years, including a 34-3 campaign in 2006.
McCartney's Eagles captured five consecutive Big South Conference titles and made five straight appearances in the NCAA Division I Tournament.
McCartney, a native of Papillion (Neb.), began his coaching career in 1991 as an assistant at Eastern Kentucky University. He served in that capacity for two seasons before accepting the first assistant coaching position at Indiana State University, which he held from 1993-95.
McCartney then took over the head coaching position of the Nebraska Tornados, a National Volleyball Association Professional League team, from 1996-98. His 1998 team captured the NVA national championship.
During his stint as the Nebraska Tornados head coach, McCartney also served as the head coach at Bellevue University (1996-2000). He led the NAIA program to a 115-51 overall record, recruited and coached several academic and athletic All-Americans and brought the program to national prominence.
McCartney left Bellevue University to return to an assistant position at the Division I level. In 2001, he accepted a role at the University of Oklahoma as the first-assistant coach. His responsibility under the mentorship of his former college teammate, Kalani Mahi, was assisting in the on-court training and recruitment of student-athletes.
McCartney also played on the collegiate and professional levels. He was both an Academic and Collegiate Club All-American while playing for Graceland College from 1983-87. He went on to play for the USAV Open National Champions, Nike Molten, in 1988 before competing professionally from 1989-91 in Umea, Sweden for Team IKSU.
A 1983 graduate of Papillion High School (Neb.), McCartney holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Economics and Finance from Graceland College and a master's degree in sports administration from Eastern Kentucky University.
He is married to the former Andrea Viviano from Kansas City and they have a daughter Kate (10), and son James (8).