Shannon Wells was named the ninth head coach in program history by UVA director of athletics Carla Williams on April 26, 2021.
Wells came to Virginia after serving on staff for seven seasons (2014-20) at the University Florida under volleyball coaching legend Mary Wise. Wells was promoted associate head coach in 2017 after serving as an assistant coach from 2014-16. She also served as the Gators’ recruiting coordinator for all seven of her years in Gainesville.
This past season and in her first year as Virginia head coach, Wells helped the Cavaliers achieve the program’s best start of 8-4 through its first 12 matches since the 2015 season. Wells’ notable wins in her inaugural campaign included a five-set victory at VCU, three consecutive sweeps over Bellarmine, Georgetown and Fairleigh Dickinson to win the Cavaliers’ second home tournament of the season and a four-set triumph at North Carolina. Prior to UVA’s win over the Tar Heels, the Cavaliers had only defeated UNC once in the last 19 matchups.
Wells, who signed former UVA middle blocker Alana Walker, guided the graduate transfer to finish the 2021 regular season second in the nation and atop the ACC in blocks per set (1.51). Walker’s 1.51 blocks-per-set average was also good for second all-time in a single season in program history. Additionally, Wells mentored UVA outside hitter Brooklyn Borum, who was named an ACC All-Freshman Team selection after leading the Cavaliers in kills per set and reception percentage.
“We are very excited to have Shannon Wells as Virginia’s head volleyball coach,” Williams said. “She is a perfect fit for who we are currently and what we aspire to be as a volleyball program. First, she is an exceptional person and will be a wonderful addition to the UVA family. She has excelled at every level as a student-athlete and coach. She is very highly regarded and respected across the country in volleyball. We’re ready to get started under her direction.”
“I’m so excited to be the head coach of Virginia volleyball and to start building an elite program,” Wells said. “For me, it’s always been about surrounding yourself with the right people and Virginia has some of the best in college athletics. I want to thank Carla Williams, assistant athletics director Jess Wilk and the entire executive team as well as President Jim Ryan for entrusting me to lead the way. Their investment and support of the volleyball program is great for UVA and for the game of volleyball. I look forward to getting to Grounds, meeting the team and getting to work on something very special.”
During her tenure at Florida, the Gators went 184-33 (.848) and punched their ticket to seven consecutive NCAA tournaments. Florida won Southeastern Conference titles in 2014, 2016 and 2017. In 2017, the Gators advanced to the NCAA Championship finals for the first time since the 2003 season.
In 2020, Florida posted a 21-4 record and reached the NCAA Regional finals before falling to top-seed Wisconsin in five sets. The Gators were 19-3 in SEC play, finishing second to eventual NCAA champion Kentucky.
Wells arrived in Gainesville in the spring of 2014 after serving as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for Ole Miss in 2013. She previously spent three years as an assistant coach at Ole Miss prior to her promotion to associate head coach.
Before her time on the Rebels’ coaching staff, Wells spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the Winthrop Eagles of the Big South Conference. Before heading to Winthrop in 2007, Wells began her coaching career at her alma mater, the University of Southern Indiana, as an assistant coach before operating as a graduate assistant for two years at Morehead State in 2005 and 2006.
An alumna of USI, Wells played four seasons and helped lead her team to 87 wins over that time span – including a school record 27 victories in the 2000 campaign. She ranks first all-time at USI in service aces and kills for her career. A two-time selection as the Great Lakes Valley Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year, Wells was also named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team in 2002 and was a three-time GLVC All-Academic team selection.
For her accomplishments in college, Wells was just the second volleyball player to be inducted into the USI Hall of Fame in February 2013.
She was most recently inducted into the 2015 Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) Hall of Fame.
Wells served as the chair of the American Volleyball Coaches Association Assistant Coaches Committee with a seat on the AVCA Board of Directors. She is a graduate of the NCAA Women Coaches Academy and a member of The Alliance of Women Coaches and True North Sports Camp Elevate program.