The coach who led the Trojans to the their first two national titles and earned the nickname “The Father of USC men’s volleyball” has passed away.
USC announced Tuesday that former head coach Ernie Hix, 80, died of malignant melanoma during the weekend in Alta Loma, California.
Hix as the USC head coach from 1974-81 guided the program to the NCAA championships in 1977 and 1980. The Trojans also advanced to the NCAA Tournament and reached the NCAA finals in both 1979 and 1981.
The coach in his eight-year tenure helped USC finish a combined 138-49 and helped produce seven All-Americans, including Bob Yoder who later succeeded Hix as the program’s head coach in 1982.
“Ernie Hix created an incredible foundation for the USC Men’s Volleyball program, quickly establishing it as a collegiate power by winning a pair of NCAA championships,” Yoder said in a statement. “He was respected and loved by his players, and we will miss him. He also ensured significant financial support for the program during and after his coaching tenure by developing and fostering the USC Men’s Volleyball Alumni and Boosters Club.”
Hix is one of seven head coaches in the history of NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball to win multiple national titles. In addition, his .738 winning percentage remains one of the best in the program’s history.
Along with his career winning record and championships, Hix and his USC program helped develop the 5-1 offensive system in the United States that utilized one setter instead of two setters.
“It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of coach Ernie Hix, a Trojan legend,” USC coach Jeff Nygaard said in a statement. “He singlehandedly grew USC men’s volleyball from its infancy into an NCAA championship-winning program, and along the way he had a deep impact on those who played for him. I have profound respect and admiration for the Father of USC Men’s Volleyball, and I am in awe witnessing his continued impact through the outpouring of love from those who knew him best.”
Hix, an USC graduate, following his coaching career was the founder and president of Hix Homes, a residential homebuilding company and Hix Development Corp., a land development company.
A service for Hix will be held 11 a.m. Monday at Murrieta United Methodist Church. Instead of flowers, the family requested donations be made in Hix’s name to the USC Men’s Volleyball Alumni and Boosters Club.