UC Santa Barbara hires two alumni to be assistant coaches

Photo courtesy of UC Santa Barbara athletics

A former All-American and a member of the last UC Santa Barbara team to reach the NCAA Tournament will both return to the Gauchos as assistant coaches.

Head coach Rick McLaughlin announced Friday that Jonah Seif and Blaine Nielsen were hired to be on his coaching staff for the upcoming season.

Seif concluded his college career fourth all-time in program history with 4,332 assists and was a three-time All-American selection. The setter after graduating from UC Santa Barbara in 2016 had a four-year professional career and spent time with the U.S. Men’s National Team.

“I’m very excited to be back at UCSB and I’m looking forward to working with the offense,” Seif said in a statement. “It’s a great transition for me, having just been playing professionally, where I can come back to my alma mater and help the team the best I can.”

Neilson was an outside attacker with the Gauchos when they won the 2011 MPSF Tournament championship as a No. 7 seed and then advanced to the NCAA Tournament finals. In addition, Neilson following his time at UC Santa Barbara played professional volleyball in Europe.

“I’m super excited to be back with the Gauchos again and to help this team compete for a National Championship,” Nielsen said in a statement. “I’ve missed the competition and preparation, and having one common goal with a team. It’s also great to be back in Santa Barbara, one of my favorite places in the world.

UC Santa Barbara in 2019 was ranked No. 3 in the national coaches entering the final month of the season but lost six of its final eight regular season matches to drop out of contention for a NCAA Tournament at-large bid.

Among the starters returning for the Gauchos next season includes outside attacker Ryan Wilcox. The 2019 National Newcomer of the Year ended last season in the nation’s top 15 with a 2.54 kills per game average and had double-digit kills in 14 matches.