Abby Gilleland is Marquette Volleyball’s new assistant coach

There has been a minor change in Marquette’s women’s volleyball coaching staff.

On January 14, the team posted a somewhat cryptic tweet:

That read an awful lot like assistant coach Meghan Keck leaving the program….. Marquette.

Fast forward 10 days to January 24, and Marquette announced that Abby Gilleland was replacing Keck on the coaching staff.

Here’s the official line from the press release confirming Gilleland is taking Keck’s place:

Gilleland joins the Golden Eagles after three seasons at the University of Connecticut, replacing former assistant Meghan Keck, who left MU in mid-January after eight campaigns.

There you go. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with Keck as repeated internet searches since the 14th have turned up nothing of a new coaching destination. Meghan, if you’re there, call us, we’d love to know what’s going on!

Anyway, on to the news. Gilleland graduated from Ohio University in 2016 and then immediately joined the William & Mary coaching staff for a year. From there, she moved to Tennessee-Chattanooga for two seasons before moving to Connecticut, where she was an assistant for the past three seasons.

Joining Marquette’s coaching staff is sort of a homecoming for Gilleland, who was originally recruited to Ohio by MU head coach Ryan Theis when he was in charge of the Bobcats. She played for him for two seasons before he left to take the top job in Milwaukee. Gilleland finished her career as a setter for Ohio at #3 always in assists and #2 in assists per set and #3 in batting percentage as well. As you would expect from these kinds of awards, she also left Athens with two AVCA All-American Honorable Mention awards, as well as a MAC Player of the Year trophy and a Setter of the Year trophy.

Replacing Keck on Theis staff is an interesting situation in terms of continuity. Theis has never been a head coach without Keck as an assistant. Ohio is his only other head coach stop and he hired Keck to assist him in 2008, and their relationship dates back to 2005 when they were both employed by Northwestern. It’s clear he knows what he’s doing as it’s worked so well at two different stops and he’s the one making the final decisions…

If nothing else, adding a relatively recent All-American caliber athlete to the coaching staff is a pretty solid move for Theis. It will help him connect and/or stay connected with his players and give them a voice on what it takes to be a Division 1 athlete. We can’t ignore the fact that Theis kind of had to make sure he hired a woman, since RJ Lengerich is the other full-time assistant coach on the staff.

It’s also worthless that, more than anything, because of the existing relationship, Theis took one of the assistant coaches away from one of the other three teams to qualify for the Big East tournament last fall. I’m not saying Connecticut will go to dust without Gilleland on their coaching staff… but given that UConn has just recorded the most Big East wins in program history, as well as the most wins in a season since 1995 and Gilleland helped coach McKayla Wuensch to the team’s first-ever Setter of the Year trophy… well I can’t help but see at least a little bit of Ryan Theis taking a bite out of one conference rival at a time that Marquette is probably going to take a notable step back next year.

The Golden Eagles went 26-6 in the fall, won their second regular-season title in the Big East and made the NCAA tournament for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons… but they also had seven seniors, one of whom was five played starter roles in the team in 2021. Fall 2022 may be a bit on the rough side… but that’s a discussion for a future blog post…..

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.