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Volleyball: Ragin' Cajuns Welcome Kristi Gray as New Volleyball Head Coach
Maggard selects one of nation’s top junior college volleyball coaches to lead Ragin’ Cajuns
LAFAYETTE - Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns Volleyball will officially welcome Kristi Gray as the 13th head coach in school history on Monday, April 26, it was announced by Director of Athletics Bryan Maggard.
Gray helped the Odessa College Wranglers vault to the highest ranks of the national junior college landscape during her five seasons (2016-21) leading the school's volleyball program, which included an outstanding 125-37 (.772) overall record. Her run with the Wranglers culminated in a sixth-place finish at the 2021 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Volleyball Championship.
"We are extremely excited to have Kristi Gray join the Ragin' Cajuns family," Maggard said. "She is a proven winner who is committed to achieving excellence in all aspects of our Louisiana Volleyball program."
Over the past two seasons at Odessa College, Gray's Wrangler squad compiled a nearly 90-percent winning percentage in overall competitions (59-7, .893), including a spectacular 21-1 (.954) record in Western Junior College Athletic Conference (WJCAC) play.
"I am so excited to lead Ragin' Cajuns Volleyball forward into a new era," Gray said. "I would like to thank Dr. Savoie and Dr. Maggard for this outstanding opportunity. The compass our program will follow will be based around energy and communication, with an emphasis on family. That family focus extends out into the community and the fan base. The Ragin' Cajun culture is very real and very dynamic, and it was a draw for me as I learned more about this opportunity. I cannot wait to get started building from where we are and working with the current roster to begin making the climb upward.
"Getting to know each student-athlete, their goals and the legacy they want to leave, will be an important first step. Recruiting high level student-athletes to join in what we will be building at E.K. Long Gymnasium will be a tremendous focus of mine."
Gray led a program that dominated the WJCAC during her time at the helm, with the Wranglers posting a 43-9 (.827) record against league foes. Her final 2021 squad went undefeated (10-0) in WJCAC action for her third conference championship.
Odessa College's 2019 season was one of the record books, with the squad winning a school record 33 matches. The Wranglers claimed the WJCAC title and finished 10th at the NJCAA Division I Volleyball Championship in the school's first-ever appearance in the tournament field. The 2019 squad featured Luisa Silva Dos Santos, who received Second Team NJCAA All-America status, as well as Third Team AVCA All-America recognition.
Success started immediately for Odessa College under Gray's leadership in 2016, with the Wranglers winning the conference championship amid a stellar 25-6 (9-1) season. Including her debut campaign and the next four seasons, Gray's group averaged 25 wins per year.
In total, Gray tutored a remarkable 20 all-conference performers, three NJCAA All-Americans and 25 Academic All-America student-athletes. Three of Gray's Wranglers were named WJCAA Most Valuable Player. Gray herself was rewarded often, with three conference coach of the year (2016, 2019, 2021) honors to her credit. Additionally, she was named district coach of the year in 2019 and 2021.
With an ever-present eye for talent, 11 student-athletes from Gray's Odessa College squads moved on to play at the NCAA Division I level.
"I have been blessed to serve as the head coach at Odessa College the past five years, spending nine seasons total at the school," Gray said. "There are so many people to thank, but most of all, I want to thank my student-athletes. Teaching them, watching them grow as people and helping them achieve their goals is why I coach, and I look forward to doing the same at Louisiana."
Prior to ascending to the role of head coach, Gray served as an assistant coach for Odessa College from 2012-16. While Gray was in that role, the Wranglers had three regional runners-up finishes and two conference championships. She assisted in the tutelage of 20 all-conference performers during that stretch.
A native of Wimberley, Texas, Gray earned a Bachelor's degree in Exercise and Sports Science from Texas Tech University in 2012. She is currently completing postgraduate studies at Midwestern State University.
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