Laurie Corbelli is beginning her 22nd season as the head volleyball coach at Texas A&M and the 29th season of her head coaching career. After stints at the University of San Francisco and Santa Clara University, the 1984 Olympic silver medalist was hired by then-athletic director John David Crow in March 1993 to take over a promising women’s volleyball program eager to contend for a conference title and return to the NCAA tournament.
Corbelli’s husband, John, an assistant coach for the ’84 Olympic Team, was hired as assistant coach, instantly forming one of most highly respected coaching duos in the country. The couple utilized their elite playing experiences and coaching knowledge to rebuild a program and rapidly develop it into a national contender that has for the most part been a consistent contender in the NCAA tournament.
In 2013, the Corbellis directed the Aggies to their third consecutive NCAA Championship second round appearance, and Texas A&M became one of only 10 teams in the nation to reach the second round at least 16 times since 1993, when the Corbellis debuted in Aggieland. In addition, Texas A&M became one of only 14 programs in the nation to make at least 17 total NCAA tournament appearances since 1993.
The Corbellis coached the Aggies to within one match of reaching the Final Four in both 1999 and 2001 and have led A&M to the NCAA regional semifinals six times, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2009. Furthermore, the Aggies have reached the 20-win milestone 14 times with Laurie at the helm, and A&M has been ranked in the final Top 25 in the coaches’ poll 10 times in the last 19 years.
Laurie enters the 2014 season sporting an overall 28-year career record of 543-318 (.631), as well as a 443-212 record and a .676 winning percentage in 21 seasons at A&M.
Laurie celebrated the 500th win of her head coaching career and her 400th win at Texas A&M in the 2012 season opener. She went on to lead the Aggies to a 25-6 record and a No. 17 final rating in the NCAA RPI in 2012, as A&M won the Southeastern Conference Western Division and placed second overall in the SEC in the school’s first year in the league.
A&M players have garnered a total of 13 first-, second- and third-team All-American citations -- as well as 11 All-American honorable mentions -- during the Corbellis' 21-year tenure, with at least one student-athlete receiving All-America recognition in 14 of the last 19 seasons. In addition, A&M volleyball athletes have received 27 all-region/all-district and 36 all-conference first-team certificates under the Corbellis' direction, and at least 10 players have continued their volleyball careers on the professional level.
The Corbellis coached two-time All-American Stacy Sykora (1995-98), who went on to earn the ultimate honor of being named Olympian, becoming the first Aggie to play on an Olympic volleyball team. The former A&M outside hitter honored her collegiate coach by donning the No. 5 jersey -- the same number Laurie wore at the ’84 Olympic Games – and was Team USA’s starting libero at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Sykora went on to earn “Best Digger” laurels at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. In 2008, Sykora became A&M’s first-ever varsity athlete in any sport to be a three-time Olympian and won a silver medal in Beijing.
Texas A&M volleyball athletes also have been recognized for their accomplishments in the classroom and in the community throughout the Corbellis' reign, garnering seven Academic All-American certificates and 14 all-district honors. In addition, Aggie volleyball players merited 73 Volleyball Academic All-Big 12 certificates in A&M’s 16 years in the league and have garnered 15 SEC Academic Honor Roll citations in the school’s two seasons in the SEC.
Laurie also has collected the hardware and in 2002 received USA Volleyball's distinguished George L. Fisher "Leader in Volleyball" award, recognizing her for her exceptional endeavors on behalf of the sport. She received SWC Coach of the Year honors in both 1994 and 1995 and was named AVCA District VI Coach of the Year in '95. In addition, Laurie was voted the Texas A&M Coach of the Year for 1999-2000 by the Aggie student-athletes.
Along with the successes she has achieved on the sidelines, Laurie also has tasted success on the court and in 1998 was presented the prestigious Flo Hyman All-Time Great Player Award by USA Volleyball. After playing three years for Texas Lutheran College in the mid 1970s, Laurie played for the United States Women's National Volleyball team from 1978-84 and was a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic Team. After the boycott of the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, Laurie returned to help lead the U.S. team to a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. She also was a member of the National Team that competed in the '78 and '82 World Championships, the '79 and '83 Pan American Games and the '79 World Cup Competition.
In 1987, Laurie played Major League Volleyball for the San Jose Golddiggers and was named the Most Valuable Player in the league's inaugural season. She also was named MVP of the MLV's season-ending all-star game in 1989.
Since then, Laurie has been inducted to the Garland Sports Hall of Fame, Texas Lutheran College Athletic Hall of Honor, NAIA Hall of Fame, L.V. Berkner High School Hall of Honor and the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame.
She has participated in volleyball competitions in more than 25 countries and has served as an instructor in more than 50 national volleyball clinics around the country. In addition, she has served on numerous committees for USA Volleyball and the American Volleyball Coaches Association and also has served as a motivational speaker for numerous organizations.
When the Corbellis came to A&M in 1993, the twosome took over a program that had never placed higher than a second-place tie in the six-team Southwest Conference, had never won 20 or more games in a season, nor had advanced to the NCAA playoffs in the six years preceding their hiring. In only their first season at the helm of the Aggies, however, the Corbellis turned around a team that had finished in a fourth-place tie in league play with a 3-7 record and a 19-17 overall mark the previous year to a 7-3, second-place showing in conference play and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Championships. A&M ended the season with an impressive 27-8 record, making Laurie the winningest first-year coach in the history of the program.
The triumphs have continued to multiply. After ending the 1994 season with a reappearance in the second round of the NCAA tournament and a 19-14 record, A&M began the 1995 campaign with a vengeance by defeating defending national champion and top-ranked Stanford in the second match of the season. At the time, the victory marked only the second time in the history of A&M men's and women's athletics that an Aggie team defeated a No. 1-ranked team during the regular season. The Aggies finished second in the SWC behind eventual national runner-up Texas with an 8-2 record and appeared in the NCAA tournament for an unprecedented third consecutive season. After advancing to the Sweet 16, A&M finished the season with a 23-7 record and was ranked No. 15 in the final coaches’ poll, a then all-time high for the A&M volleyball program.
Corbelli’s Aggies broke into the national top 10 for the first time in the history of the program in 1996 and held the No. 10 spot for four weeks. They finished third in the inaugural season of the Big 12 Conference with a 15-5 record and ended the season 25-8 and ranked No. 19 after advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive year.
A&M took another step forward in 1997 as the Aggies won first and second-round matches in the NCAA Championship’s expanded 56-team field. It marked the first time A&M had won two matches in the tournament. Despite dropping a tight five-game battle against sixth-ranked BYU in the East Regional semifinal, the Aggies finished 26-8 and ranked No. 13, another record-high in the season-ending poll.
The Corbellis' 1998 recruiting class was ranked sixth in the nation, and the group promptly played an integral part in another successful season for the Aggies. With three freshmen in the starting lineup, the Aggies snapped No. 3 Nebraska's 36-match regular-season winning streak and were the only Big 12 team to defeat the league champion and Final Four-bound team that year. The victory against the Huskers helped bolster A&M to a season-ending eight-match conference winning streak, equaling the longest conference winning streak in school history. The Aggies advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament and finished with a 21-9 record and ranked 18th in the coaches final Top 25 Poll.
In 1999, the Corbellis guided the Aggies to their first NCAA Elite Eight appearance, stunning No. 3 Hawai'i in Honolulu in the round of 16. A&M finished the season 28-6 and ranked an all-time high ninth in the final coaches Top 25 Poll. In addition, senior middle blocker Amber Woolsey became the first Aggie to garner first-team All-America laurels from the AVCA.
Another home victory against the higher-ranked Huskers in the ’99 season helped boost the Aggies to their all-time high second-place finish in the Big 12 standings, one win behind three-time champion Nebraska. Furthermore, the Aggies completed the season 16-0 in the friendly confines of G. Rollie White Coliseum, including two home victories in the NCAA tournament, marking the first time an A&M team finished a season undefeated at home with the exception of the 1978 team, which went 4-0.
Laurie became the all-time winningest coach in Texas A&M volleyball history on Oct. 18, 2000, posting the 181st victory of her Aggie career as the Aggies defeated rival Texas and posted their first win in Austin since 1979. The Aggies went on to tie for second in the Big 12 behind eventual national-champion Nebraska with a 14-6 mark and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament despite returning only two starters from A&M’s then-most celebrated season in the program history.
Setter Jenna Moscovic earned All-American honorable mention from Volleyball Magazine as A&M set all-time season records and ranked second in the national statistics in both kills and assists per game. The Aggies finished the year ranked 23rd in the final national Top 25 Poll with a 20-9 record.
The Corbellis' 2001 Aggies equaled the most successful season in A&M volleyball history, reaching the NCAA Elite Eight for the second time. The Aggies ranked 11th in the final poll in 2001 after upsetting No. 6 Wisconsin in the regional semifinals and finishing the season with a 26-6 record. Four of the six losses were to Final Four teams, including two setbacks to eventual national champion Stanford.
In her final season, Moscovic led the nation in triple-doubles and became only the second Aggie to capture AVCA first-team All-American laurels. In addition, she directed the 2001 squad to a No. 2 ranking in the national statistics in both kills and assists per game for the second consecutive season. In the competitive Big 12, Moscovic and the Aggies placed second to Final Four-bound Nebraska for the third consecutive season and tied the school record for league wins with a 16-4 mark.
In 2002, the Aggies were rebuilding after losing five starters following one of the most successful seasons in the history of the program. Despite the inexperienced lineup, A&M managed to reach the second round of the NCAA tournament for the 10th consecutive year before being eliminated by the national-champion Women of Troy. Freshman phenom Laura Jones and sophomore Melissa Munsch led the youth movement as the Aggies went 21-10 overall and 12-8 in the Big 12.
The Aggies entered the 2003 season unranked; nonetheless, the Corbellis managed to direct A&M to its third NCAA regional appearance in five years and a No. 16 final ranking. A&M, which was eliminated by eventual national-champion USC for the second consecutive year, finished the season 23-10 overall after tying for third in the Big 12 with a 13-7 mark. In addition, Munsch made her first appearance on the AVCA All-American team as she was selected to the second team.
The Aggies were one of only six teams to make a 12th consecutive appearance in the NCAA second round in 2004. A&M ranked No. 20 in the final poll after finishing the year 19-9, including 14-6 in the Big 12. And for the first time in A&M history, two Aggies were named All-America in the same year as Jones was named to the AVCA’s second team and Munsch was named to the third team as a senior. In addition, Munsch was named the Big 12 Co-Defensive Player, a first by an A&M player.
A&M made its 13th straight NCAA appearance in 2005 but was eliminated in the first round for the first time in the Corbellis’ 13-year tenure after falling to Northwestern in five games and finishing with a 16-14 record. Jones, who broke more than 30 A&M records in her final season, led the nation with 6.09 kills per game and capped her illustrious career by becoming the third player in A&M history to be named to the AVCA All-America first team. It marked the eighth AVCA All-America honor bestowed to a Corbelli-coached player in nine years.
Despite having four freshmen, sometimes five, on the court, A&M began 2006 with a 7-1 record, including a win against Loyola in the Aggies’ home opener on Sept. 8, which gave Laurie her 400th career victory and her 300th win at A&M. The youth-laden Aggies struggled to a 5-15 mark in the extremely competitive Big 12 and finished the season 12-16 overall and missed the NCAA Championships for the first time under the Corbellis.
The Aggies got off to a promising start in 2007, setting a school record by winning their first 10 matches. A&M finished the regular season 21-10 and was baffled when the Aggies did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The team was even more stunned to not receive a berth in 2008 after overcoming injuries and ending the regular season on a six-match winning streak to go 16-14 and tie for fourth place in the Big 12 with Iowa State, which reached the NCAA regional finals.
After being snubbed for two consecutive years, the 2009 team avenged the disappointments and proved the Aggies belonged in the NCAA tournament. After disposing of No. 19 Arizona, 3-1, in the first round, A&M then stunned No. 15-seed and host LSU, 3-2, to advance to the all-Big 12 Omaha Regional, where the Aggies fell to eventual national runner-up Texas in the Sweet 16.
A&M, which finished Big 12 play in a three-way tie for fourth with an 11-9 record, completed the season 20-11 and led the nation in both assists and kills per set. Individually, senior Sarah Ammerman was named to the All-America third team and senior Jennifer Banse received All-America honorable mention from the AVCA.
After losing four starters from the 2009 squad and playing without any seniors on the roster, the 2010 team went 13-17 and missed the NCAA tournament for only the fourth time in the Corbelli’s 18 years at A&M. But the program quickly rebounded and was selected to host first and second rounds in 2011 after going 22-7 during the regular season and finishing third with an 11-5 record in its final season as a member of the Big 12. The Aggies defeated Lipscomb in the first round before falling to future SEC counterpart Kentucky in the second round.
In addition to Laurie’s 500th career victory to open the 2012 season, the Aggies also made history by sweeping Ole Miss at Reed Arena in their SEC debut. It marked A&M’s first SEC victory in any sport.
The Corbellis form one of several current husband-wife coaching tandems in NCAA Division I volleyball. They first coached together as members of the staff of the 1984 U.S. Women's National Team that toured the Far East. With John as the head coach and Laurie as the assistant, the team competed in tournaments in Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Before coming to A&M, they earned recognition for being the only husband and wife to serve concurrently as head coaches of Division I volleyball programs. They coached against each other in California, with Laurie at Santa Clara and John at San Jose State.
Though Laurie is 1-3 versus her husband in the head-to-head series, she has proven that she is a winner. In her three years at Santa Clara, Laurie posted a 61-35 record and was twice honored as the West Coast Conference Coach of the Year.
In 1992, she led Santa Clara to a 21-11 record and collected WCC and West Region Coach of the Year honors as the Broncos won the league title and made their first-ever appearance in the NCAA postseason tournament. In 1991, she was named WCC Co-Coach of the Year after directing the Broncos to a 10-4 second-place conference finish. Santa Clara went on to earn its first-ever postseason appearance, where the Broncos finished third in the National Invitational Volleyball Championships. Santa Clara ended the season with a 26-11 record, the best finish in school history.
Born in Detroit and raised in Garland, Texas, the former Laurie Flachmeier first served as a head coach in 1986 at the University of San Francisco. During her four years at USF, the Lady Dons posted a 39-71 ledger. In 1987, USF finished third in the competitive WCC, and Laurie was named WCC Coach of the Year. While coaching, she also was pursuing her bachelor's degree in education, which she completed at USF in 1988.
In the spring of 1993, A&M officials were looking for an experienced leader for the Aggie volleyball program, and the Corbellis were seeking to fulfill the one dream that had eluded them -- the chance to coach together once again. In the process, A&M secured two coaches who have achieved feats that dreams are made of, while the Corbellis reached their dream of working together to rouse a program they classified as a sleeping giant.
Laurie and John provide similar coaching philosophies to form what they describe as a complimentary partnership that sees eye-to-eye. They also contribute equally impressive backgrounds to A&M. They were successful as a coach-player combo in the Pan American and Olympic Games and as a coaching duo in the Far East. Both have compiled resumes that speak for themselves, and the combination of the two continues to prove victorious for Texas A&M volleyball.