Following a two-month national search, UC Riverside Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Brian Wickstrom has named Michelle Patton as the team’s head women’s volleyball coach. She had served as head coach at San Francisco State the past five years reviving a program that lay dormant from 2004-07.
In 2012, the Gators posted the second best winning percentage in the history of the program going 21-9 on the year including a 16-6 mark in California Collegiate Athletic Association play and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Those 16 conference victories were the most in the 35-year history of the program, earning San Francisco State its best-ever finish in league play as the Gators came in second behind NCAA West Region Finalist Cal State San Bernardino.
“I am excited to welcome Michelle to the Highlanders family,” said Wickstrom. “She has been a winner at every level—player, assistant and head coach. During the search, we spoke with a number of people in the volleyball community. Michelle is known as a tireless worker who can put the pieces together to win.
“I want to thank the search committee of Julie Hall, Eric Buskirk and Jason List for all of the hours they put in to complete a thorough search resulting in such an outstanding fit for UC Riverside.”
“I would like to thank Athletics Director, Brian Wickstrom, and the entire search committee for this amazing opportunity,” said Patton. “It was evident throughout my interview process that it is an extremely exciting time to be part of UC Riverside Athletics. The vision and leadership that Brian and his team displayed, along with their commitment to volleyball, was instrumental in my decision to become part of Highlanders Athletics. I am eager to begin working with the players and moving UC Riverside Volleyball in a positive direction.”
When Patton arrived at San Francisco State, she took over a program that was disbanded following the 2003 season after a five-year stretch that saw them compile a record of 20-126.
Patton nearly matched that win total in her first year as San Francisco State went 13-15 in 2008. The following season, the Gators did match that win total going 20-11 on their way to the team’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1987.
In 2010, SF State registered its first back-to-back winning seasons since 1996-97 after recording a 14-13 overall record and an 11-11 mark in the CCAA, including an upset of nationally ranked UC San Diego for the second year in a row to go along with its first sweep of perennial league contender Cal State L.A. in 23 years.
The following year, SF State compiled a 15-12 record and an 11-11 mark in the CCAA, marking the first time since 1986-88 that the Purple and Gold posted an overall winning record in three consecutive seasons. The Gators reeled off a five-match winning streak from Sept. 17-Oct. 1, capped by a four-set road victory at Cal State L.A.
Prior to her appointment at SF State, Patton served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Wyoming from 2004-07.
Patton began her coaching career as an assistant coach at her alma mater, the University of Washington, from 2002-2004, where she was involved in successfully rebuilding a Pac-10 program, helping the Huskies to a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2002 and an Elite Eight finish in 2003.
Prior to entering the coaching ranks, Patton was a setter at Washington from 1994-1997, where she helped the nationally-ranked Huskies to three NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16 finish in 1997. She ranks fifth on the UW career list for assists with 2,655 and 11th for aces with 97. In 1996, Patton averaged 13.28 assists per game, which is still sixth on the Huskies’ single-season list.