HEAD COACH LAURA GROFF
Successful programs aren’t built overnight and with 14 years at the helm of the UTSA volleyball squad, head coach Laura Neugebauer-Groff has turned the Roadrunners volleyball program into a powerhouse and has become one of the most highly respected coaches in college athletics. Neugebauer-Groff will enter her 15th season in 2016 as the program’s winningest coach in school annals.
A member of the 17th induction class of the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in February 2011, she has mentored 37 all-conference players (21 first-teamers) and 30 all-academic honorees, including Southland Scholar- and Student-Athletes of the Year Meagan Daniel (2005) and Kelsey Jewasko (2011) and Conference USA Scholar-Athlete of the Year Dempsey Thornton (2014). She has also tutored the Roadrunners’ only three All-Americans in program history (McKenzie Adams, Dajana Boskovic and Jessica Waldrip) and has advanced her teams to 13 consecutive conference tournaments.
Neugebauer-Groff is the program’s winningest head coach with 257 victories and has amassed a head coaching record of 513-250 (.672) in 22 seasons. This past season, she captured her 500th career victory in a sweep of North Texas (Sept. 27) in the friendly confines of the Convocation Center. During the 2014 campaign, the Roadrunners’ second season in Conference USA, Neugebauer-Groff was recognized as the league’s Coach of the Year, while also mentoring the conference’s Setter of the Year, Jessica Waldrip.
She has guided the program to six consecutive 20-plus win seasons and top-two finishes in the conference standings, including back-to-back regular-season titles in 2013 and 2014. Neugebauer-Groff has also taken her teams to two of the program’s three NCAA Tournament appearances with the last tournament berth coming in 2013.
Her successes have not only come on the court but in the classroom as well. Under her tutelage, the Roadrunners have been recognized by the AVCA with the Team Academic Award on six occasions (2007-08, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16) and, in 2014, had senior middle hitter Lauren Muenchow honored by C-USA with the Jim Castaneda Postgraduate Scholarship, an award given to those deserving student-athletes that wish to continue their education.
Program milestones continued to pile on during the 2015 campaign when the Roadrunners defeated a trio of Power 5 Conference teams. The victory over Big Ten’s Indiana at the Delta Zeta Classic kick-started the feat and was followed three days later at the Convocation Center when the Roadrunners opened with No. 12 Oregon (Pac-12) and upset the Ducks, 3-1. Nearly two weeks later, the Birds battled the Clemson Tigers and defeated the ACC member school in five sets.
The hall of fame coach led the 2015 team to a 24-9 overall record, which also included the program’s 600th all-time victory on Nov. 1 in a 3-1 road win over FIU. The team also eclipsed the previous attack percentage mark in the second match of the season when the Roadrunners hit .573 as a team behind seven Birds with a .500 hitting percentage or better.
A force behind the Roadrunners success was junior Dajana Boskovic. The Bosnia and Herzegovina native paced the team with 430 kills, averaging a NCAA 14th-best 4.53 per set, and reached the 1,000th career kill milestone against Charlotte to lead the Roadrunners to victory. Boskovic also earned the conference’s offensive player of the week award in four consecutive weeks, the second most of any player that season, and was tabbed a first-team all-conference selection for the second straight year.
In 2014, Neugebauer-Groff guided the Roadrunners to its second straight C-USA regular season title, sharing a piece of the crown with WKU. The team finished 20-9 overall and 15-1 in conference play and captured its first-ever win over in-state rival Texas A&M, avenging its loss against the Aggies in the NCAA Tournament the year before.
That same season, the Roadrunners snapped a 14-game losing streak to Baylor at the UTSA Classic, a feat that had not been accomplished since the 1990 season. At season’s end, her offense ranked nationally in the top-50 as the Birds sat 30th in kills per set (13.95) and 47th in assists per set (12.90).
Her most successful year at the helm was during the 2013 season. The Roadrunners finished 24-8 with a 13-1 mark in conference play. Competing in its inaugural C-USA season, UTSA captured both the league’s regular season and tournament championships. The Roadrunners advanced to their second NCAA Tournament under Groff, and third overall, where they lost to in-state neighbor Texas A&M in the first round in Austin.
In 2012, the Roadrunners posted a 21-9 overall record and finished 13-5 in its one and only season in the Western Athletic Conference, which was good for a second place tie. The Birds reached the WAC Tournament semifinals and UTSA garnered numerous individual accolades during the campaign.
Adams picked up the program’s first All-America honor and was named AVCA All-West Region and the WAC Player of the Year. Freshman Annie Kunes also was named the league’s first-ever Libero of the Year. UTSA ranked third in the nation with 18.94 digs per set and the Roadrunners also led the WAC with 14.35 kills and 13.26 assists per frame.
One-year prior, Neugebauer-Groff led the Roadrunners to their second consecutive Southland Conference Tournament championship match and 22 victories. During the campaign, UTSA swept a program-record 12 consecutive opponents. The Roadrunners also boasted a league-high four first team All-Southland selections, including Kelsey Schwirtlich, who was named Setter of the Year, and Adams, who earned Newcomer of the Year laurels. Meanwhile, Jewasko, who earned a pair of Academic All-America honors, became the program’s all-time leader in digs (2,280).
UTSA had a banner year in 2010, as Neugebauer-Groff led the team to 22 wins. She earned her 400th career victory in the Southland Tournament opener against McNeese State before guiding her squad to the program’s second tournament championship and NCAA Tournament appearance. The Birds posted a 13-3 mark in league play and won the Southland’s West Division title.
Jewasko earned her second Southland Libero of the Year award in the last three seasons and Kendra Rowland and Schwirtlich joined her by collecting first team All-Southland honors. Meanwhile, Briana Mason and Whitney Walls each garnered honorable mention accolades. A trio of players received more awards after UTSA defeated regular season champion Central Arkansas in five sets in the tournament championship match. Rowland was named the event’s Most Valuable Player, while Walls and Schwirtlich made the All-Tournament Team. Neugebauer-Groff took her team to Gregory Gymnasium in Austin, where she faced her alma mater, Texas, but the Roadrunners fell to the sixth-ranked Longhorns in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Playing arguably the most difficult schedule in school annals, she led the Roadrunners to a dozen wins in 2009. Neugebauer-Groff became the winningiest coach in program history on Sept. 8 when she notched victory number 115 against Cal State Bakersfield. Three players — Walls (second team), Jewasko (honorable mention) and Rowland (honorable mention) — earned All-Southland Conference honors.
UTSA posted 19 wins in 2008. Rowland and Jewasko both earned first team All-Southland accolades and Jewasko was named the league’s Libero of the Year, the first honoree in school history. Stefanie Robbins was tabbed the conference’s Newcomer of the Year and she joined Amber Brooks as an All-Southland honorable mention selection.
Neugebauer-Groff posted her 300th career victory in the 2005 season opener against Delaware and led the Roadrunners to an 18-11 record, a 10-1 mark at the Convocation Center and a berth in the Southland Tournament championship match.
In 2003, she led UTSA to a remarkable turnaround season, winning more than twice as many matches than the previous season en route to a 19-14 record and a 13-7 mark in league play. The young squad, which included eight freshmen, finished tied for fourth in the league standings and advanced to the semifinals of the postseason tournament.
A former All-American at the University of Texas, Neugebauer-Groff captained the Longhorns to four Southwest Conference Championships from 1982-85. In 1992, she was named to the league’s All-Decade team, and in 2002, the San Antonio Express-News named her one of its most-influential people in women’s sports.
Neugebauer-Groff was a member of the National Sports Festival squad in 1983 and also participated at the 1995 World University Games in Japan. From 1986-87, she played professionally for the West German Volleyball League before joining the Chicago Breeze a year later. Neugebauer-Groff has been an annual participant in the United States Volleyball Association National Tournament since 1987.
Her playing days behind her, she was not done with the game and certainly was not done with winning.
After brief stints at Hondo High School (1988-90) and as an assistant coach at Texas A&M (1990-92), she accepted the head coaching position locally at St. Mary’s University. It was there that she put together a sparkling 256-62 (.805) record and three national tournament appearances during her eight-year tenure. Neugebauer-Groff finished her stay with a 35-5 mark, the 2000 Heartland Conference Championship and league Coach of the Year honors for the fifth time.
When she began her tenure at St. Mary’s, Neugebauer-Groff signed on as the Director of the Alamo Volleyball Club. She held that position from 1993-2006 and continues to be an active participant in developing volleyball in South Texas. Her local contributions have not gone unnoticed, as she was one of five recipients of the 2006 Robert L. Lindsay Meritorious Service Award (presented annually to USA Volleyball members who make outstanding contributions in the area of regional operations).
Neugebauer-Groff also was a part of Jefferson High School’s inaugural Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni Class in May 2007 and a member of the UIL’s All-Century third team in 2009.
She graduated from Texas in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and received her master’s degree in educational leadership from St. Mary’s in 1996.
Neugebauer-Groff and her husband, Dwayne, have two children, Jacob and Madison.
Other camp staff will include area college, high school, and club coaches, as well as current and former Roadrunner players.