Athens, GA - Lizzy Stemke, assistant coach at the University of Nebraska and former All-American at Wisconsin, has been named the new head coach of the University of Georgia women's volleyball program according to an announcement Wednesday by UGA Director of Athletics Greg McGarity.
Stemke, the sixth head coach at Georgia since the program's inception in 1978, has served as an assistant with the Cornhuskers the past four years.
"Our search committee focused on a group of candidates who were exceptional student-athletes, worked for programs competing for national championships, and were mentored by head coaches who are considered the finest in college volleyball," McGarity said. "Our pool of candidates was exceptional, and Lizzy met and exceeded the expectations we had established as a committee to lead our volleyball program. We welcome Lizzy, Kevin and Kerrigan Jane to our Bulldog family, and look forward to exciting times ahead for our volleyball program."
A former All-American and U.S. National Team member, Stemke helped guide the Huskers to a 116-15 record and four NCAA Volleyball Championship appearances during her time with the program. In Big 12 play from 2007-10, the Huskers went 72-8 with three Big 12 titles.
“I am thrilled and honored to accept the position as the Head Volleyball Coach at The University of Georgia,” said Stemke. “I would like to thank Greg McGarity and his staff for this fantastic opportunity. Throughout this process I have been immensely impressed and truly inspired by the support and commitment that the Bulldog Athletic Department has shown for the volleyball program and its future. I am looking forward to being a part of the great tradition of athletics at The University of Georgia. Go Dawgs!”
Stemke's roles at Nebraska included serving as the co-recruiting coordinator, offensive coordinator, setter training, video coordinator, academic and community involvement liaison, and assisting with summer camps and coaching clinics. She played a major role in the recruitment of a pair of top-10 recruiting classes, including the 2009 class that was ranked second nationally by Prepvolleyball.com. Her contributions to NU's success were noticed as she was named one of the country's top-10 assistant coaches by Volleyball Magazine in February of 2010.
“Georgia volleyball is a sleeping giant and Lizzy is the perfect coach to awaken the volleyball program,” said Nebraska head coach John Cook. “Coach Stemke will not only build a great team of student-athletes, she will create an excitement and culture for Georgia volleyball in the Athens community.”
Stemke coached two All-American setters at Nebraska in Sydney Anderson and Rachel Holloway. In 2009, Anderson became a two-time All-American, averaging 11.53 assists per set to help Nebraska to a sixth consecutive NCAA Regional Final. In 2008, Anderson earned second-team AVCA All-America honors ranking eighth nationally in assists at 11.60 per set, as the Huskers replaced four All-Americans from the previous season. In Stemke's first year at NU, the Huskers finished in the top three nationally in assists per set (16.42) and hitting percentage (.327) while Holloway finished her college career ranking ninth nationally with 13.58 assists per set.
Prior to Nebraska, Stemke was an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina from 2005-06. At UNC, Stemke served as setters' coach, handled opponent scouting and video exchange, recruiting, team travel and community outreach. In 2005, the Tar Heels won the Atlantic Coast Conference title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Stemke enjoyed a distinguished career at the University of Wisconsin from 1998 to 2001. A three-year starter for the Badgers and team captain from 2000-01, she helped Wisconsin to a 112-23 record, a pair of Big Ten titles and an NCAA runner-up finish in 2000. One of only three two-time AVCA All-Americans in Wisconsin history, she ranked fourth nationally in assists as a senior in 2001, with 13.72 per game when she was named Big Ten Player of the Year. She was recruited to Wisconsin by current Nebraska head coach John Cook, whose last year as Badgers' head coach was 1998.
"Georgia is getting one of the real rising stars in volleyball,” said Pete Waite, head coach at Wisconsin. “Since her playing days at Wisconsin she has taken the right steps to learn the trade and gain knowledge as a coach. As a player, Lizzy was one of the best leaders I've ever coached and she was driven to be great. She has the ability to make those around her better and she was a major reason Wisconsin played in the NCAA Finals in 2000. Lizzy is upbeat and competitive in everything she does both on, and off the court. I'm sure she'll do a great job with the Georgia program."
Following her collegiate career, Stemke spent two years with the U.S. National Team. In 2002, she was a member of the silver medal-winning team at the World Championships. She also helped the U.S. team win a bronze medal at the 2003 Pan-American Games. After her time with the national team, Stemke spent two seasons playing professionally. In 2003, she was named the Most Valuable Player of the Puerto Rican League. She then spent one season playing in the Pro A League in France.
Additional college, club coaching
Stemke also has additional experience coaching both at the collegiate and club levels. Since 2007, she has worked with setting and defensive clinics at the Nebraska Volleyball Academy while also assisting with numerous tryouts and summer camps with USA High Performance. Stemke spent the 2003 season as a volunteer assistant at the University of Central Florida, and the Knights won the Atlantic Sun Conference championship and reached the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history before finishing with a 23-7 record.
"Lizzy will do a tremendous job at Georgia,” said Christy Johnson, head volleyball coach at Iowa State and former assistant coach at Wisconsin. “As a player, she worked incredibly hard to become great, and I've seen that same work ethic in her as a coach. She is a great, great leader, and many of us in the coaching world are excited to see her take Georgia volleyball to the next level."
During her time in Florida, Stemke also co-founded the Team Orlando Volleyball Club and acted as its head recruiter and setter and defense clinic coordinator. She has also spent time working with the Triangle Setting Academy, the Wisconsin Power Volleyball Club, the All-American Volleyball Camps and Next Level Volleyball Camp.
Stemke earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communications degree from the University of Wisconsin in 2004.
The former Lizzy Fitzgerald, she is married to Kevin Stemke, and they welcomed their first child, a daughter, Kerrigan Jane on Dec. 7, 2010. Kevin played collegiate football at the University of Wisconsin from 1997-2000 and was named the inaugural winner of the Ray Guy Award in 2000 as the nation's top punter. He went on to play professionally from 2001-04 with five organizations most notably the Oakland Raiders in 2002 and the St. Louis Rams in 2004.
Stemke comes from a family heavily involved in college athletics. Her father, Billy Fitzgerald, played baseball and basketball at Tulane from 1967-69 and is in the school's athletic hall of fame. Her older brother, Edmond, played basketball at Ole Miss from 1992-94, while her older sister, Meg, played volleyball at Florida from 1992-95 and was the head volleyball coach at Central Florida until 2007. Her youngest brother, Robert, played baseball at the University of Tennessee from 2002-05.
The Stemke File:
Hometown: New Orleans, La.
Education: Bachelor's Degree, Communication Studies – Wisconsin, 2004
Collegiate Coaching Experience:
University of Nebraska, Assistant Coach, 2007-10;
University of North Carolina, Assistant Coach, 2005-06
University of Central Florida, Volunteer Coach, 2003
Additional Coaching Experience:
Nebraska Volleyball Academy Setting and Defense Clinics, 2007-10
USA High Performance, 2007-10
Triangle Setting Academy, Assistant Coach/Setters, 2007
Wisconsin Power Volleyball Club, Assistant Coach/Setters, 2004
All-American Volleyball Camps, Assistant Coach/Setters, 2004
Next Level Volleyball Camp, Assistant Coach, 2004
Team Orlando – Co-Founder/Marketing/Recruiting/SetterDefense Clinic Coordinator, 2003-04
Playing Experience: Mulhouse (France), 2004-05
Carolina (Puerto Rico), 2003
U.S. National Team, 2001-03
Family: Husband – Kevin; Daughter – Kerrigan Jane, born Dec. 7, 2010.