The longest tenured coach in Memphis volleyball history, Carrie Yerty enters her 11th season at the helm of the volleyball program with her eyes set on continuing a winning tradition that seen her guide the Tigers to five consecutive seasons of .500 or better finishes. In her 10 previous seasons, Yerty has rebuilt the program into one of the most successful ones in Conference USA. Under Yerty, Memphis has won 73 matches over the last three seasons, including a school-record 30-6 finish in 2003. The 73 wins over a three-year span is the most since 1989-91 when Memphis won a combined 76 contests.
A proven winner, Yerty has led Memphis to 183 wins (18 wins per season)--second-most wins by a Tiger volleyball coach. Just 30 wins shy of becoming the most successful coach in Memphis volleyball history,Yerty has led Memphis to the most winning seasons (seven) of any Tiger volleyball coach.
Yerty began her Tiger career on July 15, 1996, when she was hired to replace former head coach Penny Lucas-White less than six weeks before the start of the season. She inherited a squad that finished 13-20 the previous year and featured just five returning players. In her first year, the Tigers finished 8-27 overall and 1-13 in Conference USA, but Yerty did not let that one season spoil her dreams of developing and guiding the Division I program into the national spotlight.
She hit the recruiting trails and her hard work has resulted in two Academic All-America honorees, four All-Conference USA honorees, two C-USA All-Freshman Team honorees, one C-USA Defensive Player of the Year and one AVCA All-Region honorable mention player. Yerty's squads have also earned academic individual and team honors from the AVCA, and since the 1996-97 school year, 21 of 23 players that have completed their eligibility have received their college diplomas.
In just her second season at the helm, Yerty made one of the biggest turnarounds in the program's history. Never had a Tiger squad won less than 10 matches one year and finished well above .500 the next. Yerty's second-year squad did it.
She guided the 1997 Tigers to a 19-14 overall record, including a school-best 7-0 start. Not included in the overall record that season was a victory over the Australian National Team at the Montana State Tournament. The team also made a huge jump in the conference rankings with a 6-10 record that year.
The Tigers were again gaining respect from their C-USA foes. After finishing dead last in the league in 1996, the Tigers improved to a fourth-place showing in the National Division the following season. Yerty's Tigers also made strides in the C-USA postseason tournament, winning their first-round meeting with UAB and advancing to the second round, where they dropped a 3-1 decision to top-seeded and eventual NCAA participant Houston.
That would not be the last time that Memphis put up a fight with the Cougars. In 1998, Yerty led her troops to their first win in school history over the University of Houston, and for the second-straight season, Memphis advanced to the second round of the C-USA Tournament. Yerty's Tigers finished the season with an 18-14 overall record and a 6-10 record in conference. It was the first time since 1994 that a Tiger volleyball team had recorded back-to-back winning seasons.
Yerty saw her commitment to long-term success move forward in 2003 when she guided the Tigers to a 30-6 mark and its first-ever appearance in the Conference USA Championship match. That team was just the second team in C-USA history to hit the 30-win mark. The Tigers' .833 winning percentage was the best single-season mark in school history.
Yerty led Memphis to its second-consecutive 25-win season in 2004, as the Tigers advanced to the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament for the second-straight year. Memphis' 27-10 mark in 2004 marked the third time since 1990 that the Tigers won 27 matches in a single season. The .730 winning percentage is the second-highest since 1994.
Memphis had its second All-Conference USA honoree in 2001 when senior Amie Hamilton earned second team accolades, the first Tiger to earn an all-conference honor under Yerty and the first to do so since 1995.
But it would not be as long a wait for the Tigers' next All-Conference USA honor, as Memphis had three student-athletes named to the Conference USA All-Conference teams in 2003. Senior Brittany Barnett, who finished her career ranked third in school history with 1,349 kills, was named to the second team, while Heather Watts and Tiara Gilkey both earned third team honors. That trio of players obliterated the Tiger record book during a banner season.
Watts, who set a single-season school record with 1,792 assists in 2003, raised the standard even higher in 2004 with 1,830 assists. For her stellar senior campaign, she garnered C-USA Setter of the Year and first team honors. Gilkey posted 521 kills en route to earning second team all-conference accolades. Five Tigers have surpassed the 1,000-career-kill mark under Yerty, including both Barnett and Gilkey during the 2003 season. Nancy Nellans is the latest to eclipse the 1,000-kill mark, reaching the milestone in 2004.
Yerty continues to stress academic excellence as well as athletic achievement.
Heather Watts earned her third-straight Academic All-District first team honor in 2004. Watts became the program's second Academic All-America recipient, earning third team honors in 2003 and first team in 2004. Watts joined former Tiger April Harriman, who earned second team honors in 2000, as the program's Academic All-America honorees. Watts also earned ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American second team honors in 2004, before receiving an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.
In addition to individual student-athlete academic honors, Yerty-led teams have been recognized five times by the AVCA for their team GPAs. Most recently, the 2005 squad was tabbed as one of 51 Division teams to win the Game Plan/AVCA Team Academic Award . The 2004 Tiger team had a 3.4 GPA during the fall and a 3.2 during the spring and earned recognition from the governing body during the spring of 2004.
Prior to becoming the Tigers' head coach, Yerty was an assistant coach at the University of Arizona during the 1995 season where, among her on-court coaching duties, she also served as the recruiting coordinator. One of her recruiting classes at the University of Arizona was ranked in the top five in the nation by recruiting magazines. On the court, she worked closely with the squad's middle blockers as she helped lead the Wildcats to a 14-14 overall record. She also supervised the academic study table and assisted with scheduling and travel, as well as working closely with camps and clinics.
Yerty broke into the collegiate coaching ranks in 1992 when she accepted an assistant coaching position at Eastern Washington in Cheney, Wash. Yerty served under head coach Pamela Parks at EWU for three years, working closely with the middle blockers and serving as the recruiting coordinator. A strong believer in publicizing her programs, Yerty coordinated several game-day activities, including theme nights and an adopt-a-player program. She also participated in university fund-raising programs and assisted with various camps and clinics.
Yerty's coaching background goes much deeper than the collegiate level. She, along with her husband, Lee, founded the Northwest All-Star Volleyball Touring Camp in 1991, in which they managed and conducted in excess of 25 customized instructional clinics and camps for junior high and high school athletes and coaches. Two years later, Yerty founded and coached the New Balance Volleyball Club team in Spokane, Wash., for girls 16 and under. She directed that squad from 1993-95, and then served as the head coach for one year of the Club Cactus Juniors Volleyball Club in Tucson, Ariz., for the 18-Elite age group.
A seasoned club team coach, Yerty was selected as a representative on the Junior Olympic National Team selection committee, evaluating and selecting players for the elite squad at the Southern California tryout.
Yerty is heavily involved in the community. Yerty is currently on the Board of Directors for the Memphis Junior Volleyball Club Program, and has held numerous free clinics and camps for church groups and elementary schools. She was also instrumental in bringing the USA and Russian Volleyball teams to the Elma Roane Fieldhouse for a widely-attended exhibition match in 1998.
Yerty has given her time and dedication freely to such groups as the American Cancer Society, The Ronald McDonald House and the Girl Scouts of America. She is also serving a three-year term on the AVCA Coaches' Committee and is chairing the Policy and Procedures Committee with the AVCA.
Formerly Carrie Couturier, Yerty was a four-year standout as a middle blocker during her collegiate days at Washington State University. She earned Pac-10 All-Freshman honors following the 1988 season when she set a school record with 69 solo blocks. Yerty continued to lead her squad and develop her skills through the next two years, and in her senior season, people starting taking notice. In 1991, she earned first team All-Pac-10 honors in her final collegiate season after helping the Cougars to a 23-12 finish and a school-best fourth-place showing in the Pac-10. As a senior, she led the Pac-10 in hitting percentage (.333) and in service aces (55). She was third in the league in kills with 432 and ranked fourth with an average of 3.8 kills per game. An All-West Regional and All-America nominee, Yerty received an invitation to participate on the U.S. Olympic Developmental Team in San Diego in 1992.
Not likely to be forgotten at WSU or even in the Pac-10, Yerty is currently second in school history in career kills (1,548), while holding the school marks in solo blocks (196) and block assists (431). In the Pac-10, Yerty was the league's all-time leading blocker with 617 total blocks, while also ranking first in all-time solo blocks (196). She was also fourth in career hitting percentage (.270) and fifth in all-time block assists with 431. Most recently, Yerty was named to the Pac-10 All-Decade Team, as well as the Washington State All-Decade Team.
At 6-2, Yerty's volleyball success began at an early age. A standout at Sam Bartow High School in Boring, Ore., she was named to the Reebok All-America team and was Oregon's Female Athlete of the Year in 1988. Yerty also played on the Portland Volleyball Club while in high school. Her squad is still the only club outside of California to ever win the Davis Volleyball Festival, which continues to rate as the largest women's athletic event in the world.
A 1992 graduate of Washington State, Yerty earned her degree in Secondary Education. She then completed her graduate studies to earn her master's degree in Sport and Leisure Commerce from the University of Memphis in December of 2004. Born March 4, 1970, she is married to Lee Yerty, who is an assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Memphis. The couple and their two sons, WesLee and Jace, live in Cordova, Tenn.