Julie Torbett, who played an integral role in the success of a nationally-prominent Penn State program as a student-athlete and has followed with more than 375 wins in a 20-year coaching career, begins her fourth season as head volleyball coach at East Carolina University in 2016.
Torbett enters the campaign just 22 victories shy of 400 and is the second winningest active coach in the American Athletic Conference.
In her third season in Greenville, Torbett continued to put the program on solid footing. The Pirates won six of their first eight contests and captured the East Carolina Invitational for the second-straight campaign with three-set victories over Hampton and William and Mary. Torbett also helped mentor four different players who earned spots on the American Athletic Conference Weekly Honor Roll.
In terms of individual development, senior libero Erika Figueroa set the program single-season record for digs with 618 while producing a new single-match mark of 37 digs in a five-set win over UConn Nov. 25. She also left ECU in sole possession of third place on the career chart with 1,391. Figueroa was also named the AAC Defensive Player of the Week Sept. 28 as well as the East Carolina Student-Athlete of the Month for September.
The 2014 season marked East Carolina's inaugural year in the American Athletic Conference and Torbett guided the Pirates to a 15-16 overall record including a 6-14 ledger in league action. Under her tutelage, ECU volleyball collected 15 wins in a single season and six conference victories for the first time since 2007.
Torbett's squad was competitive throughout the season as they opened the year sweeping three matches in the East Carolina Invitational en route to becoming co-champions of the tournament along with UNCW. During the 2014 campaign the Pirates reached several milestones as a team and individually. A defensively strong team, ECU tallied 98 digs in the match against Memphis on October 26, which comes in third in the single-game record book.
A former defensive specialist at Penn State, Torbett used her knowledge and experience to set the tone for the Pirate defense. She coached junior defensive specialist Erika Figueroa into the starting libero position and, on November 16, Figueroa tied the then school record with 34 digs at UConn. With Torbett's help, Figueroa finished the season with three 30-plus dig efforts while averaging 3.74 digs per set to lead ECU and rank ninth in the American Athletic Conference.
Torbett put together a respectable first season with the program, leading ECU to 13 victories for the first time in five years - more than six times the win total from the previous season. She piloted her squad to three Conference USA victories for the first time since 2008 and paced the Pirates to their first five-match winning streak in five years. Under her tutelage, East Carolina captured its first road tournament title since 2005 after three consecutive 3-0 victories at the Elon Phoenix Classic.
Torbett's Pirates garnered a Conference USA Player of the Week in Shelby Beasley for the first time in five years and Nicole Willis was named to the All-Conference USA Second Team, marking the first all-conference ECU volleyball honoree since 2007.
Torbett came to ECU after a two-year stint at Winthrop where she guided the Eagles to a 20-8 Big South Conference record and a 34-24 overall mark. In her first year, Torbett's team tied for the Big South regular season championship, the first for Winthrop since 2007, and earned a No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. In her two years with the Eagles, Torbett's squads made an appearance in the Big South Conference Tournament and she coached six all-conference selections - including 2011 Big South Player-of-the-Year Becca Toor.
Prior to her time in Rock Hill, Torbett was in charge of the UNC Asheville women's volleyball program and she led the Bulldogs to 304 wins in 17 seasons from 1994-2011. Torbett guided UNCA to a pair of Big South regular season championships, a No. 10 ranking in the South Region, and was named Big South Conference Coach-of-the-Year on two occasions (2002 and 2009). In addition, she served as the department's senior woman administrator for 13 years.
In more than 20 years as a head coach at the Division I level, Torbett accumulated 338 career wins to become the winningest coach in Big South volleyball history. Additionally, she has coached and mentored numerous NCAA All-America selections, NCAA statistical leaders, and more than 40 all-conference honorees.
The former Penn State middle back and defensive specialist under legendary head coach Russ Rose helped the Nittany Lions to four Atlantic 10 championships, four NCAA Regional appearances and a perfect 31-0 conference record before earning her degree in exercise and sport science in 1990.
Torbett holds her student-athletes to a higher standard in the classroom as she has coached 18 Academic All-Big South selections and several of her teams have garnered the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) Academic Team Award which is presented to programs with a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher.
In addition to an emphasis on academics, community service also plays a large role for Torbett as she and her teams have participated in various community outreach programs. Throughout her career, Torbett's squads actively visit local elementary schools, retirement communities, and volunteer in an abundance of fundraising events. In 2011, the Eagles volleyball team helped raise more than $800 for the American Cancer Society.
Torbett is married to Kelvin Thomas and has three sons Nathanael, Colby and Tristan as well as two stepchildren Kianna and Niko.