EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) -After leading the University of Evansville volleyball team to its best start in nine years, interim head coach Fernando Morales has been named the full-time head coach of the Purple Aces. Morales inked a multiyear deal on Wednesday.
“Personally, this is a dream come true. I knew this was what I wanted to do after retiring from my professional career,” Morales said. “Being a Division I coach is a great challenge, but I am in a great place with the full support of the university. We have an excellent group of girls on our team and a great group of recruits coming in. Evansville provides a family atmosphere that I am proud to be part of.”
UE Director of Athletics Mark Spencer elevated Morales to the interim coaching position in the spring and has been pleased with the direction of the program. The program has not only been successful at the team level, but his efforts have seen his players win seven Missouri Valley Conference awards since the beginning of the season.
“We are thrilled to have Fernando on board,” Spencer said. “His professional experience has really translated into a very effective coaching style that our team has wholeheartedly embraced. We are excited to see that for many years to come.”
Morales joined the Aces in 2018 as an assistant coach after 19 years of National and International playing experience in his native Puerto Rico. His experience included both indoor and beach volleyball. Aside from playing professionally in Puerto Rico, he saw time in Spain, Austria, Cyprus, Russia, Lebanon and Greece. He was a 3-time Pro League Champion and accumulated numerous accolades throughout his career including a silver medal in the 2008 Olympic Qualifiers. In 2007, he played in the World Cup.
On the coaching side, Morales has worked at several different levels on his way to the college level. An assistant coach at the professional level at Changas, he has also worked in several positions at the University of Kentucky camps, Cruz Control, Specialized Position Academy and the Fernando Morales Volleyball Camp.
“I want to thank Mark Spencer for trusting me to guide this program to where we want to go. When he named me interim coach, it was a big risk that he took with me not having the experience a lot of NCAA coaches do. Naming me the coach officially is something I am very thankful for. ” Morales added. “Sarah Solinsky is always supporting us and finding ways to help us. When I ask for something, she always finds a way to help the program with whatever she can.”
“I am also very appreciative of the support of President (Christopher M.) Pietruszkiewicz. President P. has done so much for the athletic department and university as a whole. It is good to see a president that supports both sides and I think that will make this university grow a lot and help us all to be more successful.”
In a short time leading the program, Morales has guided Evansville to its best start since 2010. His student-athletes have seen excellent growth both on and off the court. The players have etched their way into the record books as Melanie Feliciano, Gabriela Macedo and Rachel Tam have all set program records this year.
“The girls gave me the vote of confidence,” Morales exclaimed. “We have a great group of girls who are good players; they care about each other and the program and that is a recipe for success.”
Over his tenure at UE, Morales has put a great deal of effort into community outreach and is thankful for the support that the program has received in return.
“Thank you to the Aces community that has supported the program this year and they have expressed their support to me personally. We need that from our community to continue getting better."
Courtesy: UE Athletics