University of Alaska Fairbanks athletic director Gary Gray announced today that Mallory Larranaga has been selected to lead her alma mater as the volleyball program’s seventh head coach.
Larranaga replaces Phil Shoemaker, who spent the previous 13 seasons at the helm. She is no stranger to Alaska and the program as she has spent the last two years as the assistant coach for the Nanooks. A 2010 inductee to the Nanook Hall of Fame, Larranaga is still to this day the program’s lone All-American following a stellar career from 2001-04.
“I am very pleased Coach Larranaga has agreed to accept our offer to become our head volleyball coach,” Gray said. “She has a proven record of recruiting, which is critical to being successful in our tough GNAC conference. I am confident she will continue to build our roster with high quality student-athletes who will also be successful in the classroom.”
During the past two seasons, Larranaga has been hot on the recruiting trail and instrumental in signing such players as GNAC Co-Rookie of the Year Sam Harthun, Katlyn Mataya, Ixchelle Oleson as well as next year’s incoming freshmen Cassidy Brewer, Lilah Hudson and junior college transfer Tessa Butterfield.
“I couldn’t be more thankful, I couldn’t be more blessed and I’m really excited,” Larranaga said during a formal press conference Monday afternoon at the Patty Center. “I’m kind of disappointed my athletes aren’t in town so we could really get started but the day will come. I know there will be a lot of changes, a lot of positive changes but a lot of happy changes. We’re excited to get going on a new era of volleyball.”
Prior to coming back to her alma mater to coach, Larranaga spent three years at the reigns of the Mt. View High School varsity girls program in Oregon and also started GRIT Elite Athletic, which coaches and trains athletes of all ages to better nutrition and fitness levels.
She also spent three years at Rimrock Volleyball Club’s 18’s Edge Team and worked numerous camps during the off-season, including the Oregon Suns/Park & Rec. Camp. Following her graduation from Alaska, she spent one season as head coach at Lathrop High School in Fairbanks.
Larranaga coached quite a few players who would go on to play in college at either the high school or club level, including five past, present and future Great Northwest Athletic Conference student-athletes. She also coached a pair of future Division I athletes in Rachel Buehner (Oregon State) and Lanie Hayes (Boise State) as well as current collegians Bethany Durre (Colorado Christian), Sara Steria (Sterling, Kansas), who earned All-America status this season, and Sarah Roshak (Carroll, Mont. – NAIA).
As a Nanook student-athlete, there is no player that shined brighter than Larranaga. Formerly Bergstrom, she is the all-time leader in career kills with 1,363 terminations. She also ended her career second in digs, with 1,269, which now ranks third. She had a career-high 31 kills as a senior, which is currently tied for second in single-match history, and turned in 400-kill seasons in her final two years with the program.
Her kills total ranks fifth all-time in the history of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and she had the third most attack attempts (3,862). In conference matches alone, she is at the top of the list in kills (1,110), attempts (3,120) and points (1,250). Her 3.83 kills per set average and 1,543 career points both rank seventh in the league’s history.
She graduated in the spring of 2004 from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Nutrition.
“It’s unbelievable and really hasn’t sunk in,” Larranaga said. “This is my dream job. I’m not going to tell anyone anything different. It gives me a lot of pride to come back, be an alum and understand what it takes to have excellence here at UAF and then also in athletics.”
“Mallory has strong ties to this community, which will help her in many aspects of the job,” Gray said. “She is a great role model for the young women she will recruit and sign to letters of intent with Nanook volleyball. I admire Mallory’s passion for the game of volleyball, and she is indeed a student of the game.”