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UCLA women’s volleyball’s Jen Malcom to take head coach spot at California

UCLA women’s volleyball associate head coach Jen Malcom raises her fist alongside junior defensive specialist/libero Peyton Dueck. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Ira Gorawara

Dec. 9, 2023 12:38 p.m.

The holiday season marks significant change for the Bruins. 

On Dec. 27 last year, UCLA women’s volleyball head coach Alfee Reft initiated a quest for a fresh, four-person cadre to fill his first coaching staff. Associate head coach Jen Malcom and assistant coach Amir Lugo-Rodriguez were the first to get the call-up – but just under a year later, the quartet is bidding adieu to the former. 

Malcom is set to depart Westwood and head north to serve as California’s head honcho ahead of its move to the ACC, the team announced Saturday morning. She replaces interim head coach Crissy Jones Schoonderwoerd, who steered the Golden Bears to a 16-15 record on the season. 

Reft, who is as a seasonal assistant coach for the United States women’s volleyball team, was unavailable for five of the Bruins’ 10 nonconference games, as well as the team’s first two Pac-12 contests while serving in the same role. Malcom stood in as interim head coach for the seven affairs, piloting UCLA to a 4-3 record including three consecutive victories to commence her stint. 

In a victory against Long Beach State during Malcom’s interim tenure, the Bruins notched a season-high 19 blocks. Malcom spurred graduate student middle blocker Desiree Becker to nine blocks of her own, a figure that became a season best. 

“She’s (Malcom has) trained and developed block and defense in her players to be some of the best in the country,” Reft said in a Q&A prior to the 2023 season

The Bruins closed out their 2023 campaign occupying the fourth-best position in blocks per set among all Pac-12 teams.

Malcom spent seven years at her alma mater – Iowa State – prior to her time at UCLA, where she marshaled the Cyclones to their first 20-win season since 2018, as well as five NCAA tournament appearances. Her spell in Ames, Iowa, included a National Invitational Volleyball Championship title in 2018. 

After 13 years coaching at four different Power 5 programs, Malcom will take the reins as the head coach of the Golden Bears as they gear up for their first season in the ACC. 

“Jen has coached at the highest levels of college volleyball and has a proven record of success as both a student-athlete and a coach,” said Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton. “With her 13 years of experience as an assistant coach, along with her ability to relate to and develop student-athletes, I am confident that she is the right person to lead our program into the ACC.” 

The Bruin coaching landscape will be forced to undergo yet another transformation as UCLA enters the offseason period. 

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Ira Gorawara | Assistant Sports editor
Gorawara is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men's volleyball, women's volleyball, men's tennis and rowing beats and is a Copy contributor. She was previously a reporter on the men's volleyball and rowing beats. She is also a second-year communication and economics student.
Gorawara is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men's volleyball, women's volleyball, men's tennis and rowing beats and is a Copy contributor. She was previously a reporter on the men's volleyball and rowing beats. She is also a second-year communication and economics student.
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