Over the course of the previous five years, head coach Todd Kress has built the Florida State volleyball team into an annual contender for the Atlantic Coast Conference title and one of the burgeoning programs on the national landscape. With perhaps his most talented team on the court, year number six under Kress has the potential to bring the ACC trophy back to Tallahassee and solidify the Seminoles' place among country's elite teams.
Going into his 13th season as a head coach, Kress has a 239-145 record for a .622 winning percentage that ranks among the NCAA leaders. On October 15, 2004, the 39-year-old Kress became the second youngest active head coach to reach 200 victories with FSU's 3-1 triumph over North Carolina. Prior to his arrival in Tallahassee, Kress spent seven years coaching at Fairfield University and Northern Illinois University, where he led three teams to the NCAA Tournament and compiled a record of 152-75.
During his tenure at Florida State he has amassed an 87-70 record and 13 more victories would make him the third head coach in school history to reach the 100-win plateau. In addition, he is just 21 wins from taking over the number two spot on the school's career wins list.
One thing that has been unprecedented during Kress' stint as the Seminoles' court boss is number of national awards his players have won. After 23 years without an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-American, Kress has produced an All-American in each of the last three years as current senior Makini Thompson garnered Honorable Mention accolades in 2006. Amanda Santos earned the school's first All-America honor in 2004 and her sister Andreza followed in her footsteps the next year. Amongst the ACC schools, only Florida State, Duke and Georgia Tech have had an All-American in each of the last three seasons.
In addition to her All-America honor, Thompson was the fourth player under Kress' watch to land on the AVCA All-East Region and First-Team All-ACC squads. Middle blocker Brianna Barry was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team, a first since Cassie McLaughlin was named to the team as well as 2003 East Region Rookie of the Year and ACC Freshman of the Year.
Not only has Kress' impact on Florida State volleyball been felt on the court, but also in the classroom. Since his arrival in 2002, the program has put 3X student-athletes on the ACC Academic Honor Roll, which is more than the previous five seasons. In 2006 Sarah Griffin earned the team's first CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honor since 1993. She was joined by Jessica Skower and Barry on the 2006 All-ACC Academic Volleyball Team. The team grade point average for the 2006-07 school year was a 3.02.
A blazing start to the 2006 campaign was the key to one of the best seasons under Kress as his team posted a 19-12 mark - the second most wins during his tenure - and a school-record 13-9 ACC ledger. Florida State swept its way through its first five matches, including the title of the FSU Invitational, for the best start since the 2000 season. The hot beginning continued during conference action as the Seminoles got out to an 8-1 start.
Offense was a big key to FSU's success as it led the conference with a .266 hitting percentage that is the fourth-best single-season total in school history. The Seminoles' 225 aces were the most since the 1994 season. Four players were ranked in the ACC's top five rankings, led by Thompson who was third in the conference at 3.95 kills per game, which ranks as the eighth-best single-season rate FSU lore.
The last half of the 2005 season saw the Seminoles lay the foundation for a great 2006 campaign. Florida State won seven of its last 10 matches, the third-best finish in the ACC, to end the season tied for fifth in the ACC at 11-11 with a 13-17 overall mark. 2005's blocking effort was one of the best at Florida State in the last decade. The 452 blocking assists were the second-most since 1989, while the 89 solo stuffs were also second-highest since 1999 and the 313 total blocks were the second-most since 1993. In addition, Florida State's 1738 digs were the most in the last seven seasons.
In 2004, FSU accumulated a record of 18-11 and despite a young roster, tied for fourth in a tough ACC race. The loss of four seniors didn't deter the Seminoles in 2003 as they finished strong at the end of the season for a 16-17 mark. Backed by setter Jen Anderson - the school's all-time leader in assists - Florida State amassed 1,671 assists, the fifth-highest single-season total in school history. The Seminoles' 322 total blocks were the most since 1993.
Inheriting a team that was on the cusp of greatness, Kress was the difference maker in 2002 as he led Florida State to its first NCAA Tournament in four years during his inaugural campaign in Tallahassee. Florida State posted a 21-13 overall record that year, 10-6 in the ACC, and advanced to the finals of the ACC Tournament. The Seminoles 1,992 kills that year are the second-most in FSU lore while the 464 blocking assists were the highest since 1990.
Before arriving to Florida State, Kress spent three years at Northern Illinois, where he led the Huskies to a 58-30 record, including a 48-15 mark the last two seasons. In his last season at Northern Illinois, Kress guided the Huskies to an overall record of 24-6 and a 15-3 Mid- American Conference record to claim the regular season title.
Northern Illinois dominated the MAC in 2001, winning 21 of its final 23 matches and sweeping all three matches in the MAC Tournament to claim the title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years. NIU swept the league awards that year with Kress taking home Coach of the Year honors while Jenny Bowman was named MAC Player of the Year and Tera Lobdell took home MAC Freshman of the Year. During his second year as the head coach of the Huskies, Kress paced Northern Illinois to a 24-9 mark. With a conference record of 12-6, Northern Illinois finished the 2000 season in third place in the MAC's Western Division.
Kress faced much adversity in his first season as head coach at Northern Illinois. Key players were lost to injury, which weakened an already inexperienced squad. Although the season was challenging, Northern Illinois rallied to win five of its final eight matches and finished with an overall record of 10-15, including a record of 7-11 in the MAC.
In 1995, Kress began his collegiate head-coaching career when he accepted the position at Fairfield. Before Kress' arrival at Fairfield, the Stags had not posted a winning season in seven years. During his four-year stint at the helm of the program, Kress boasted a record of 94-45 and became the school's winningest volleyball coach.
In his final two years, he guided the Stags to a 60-12 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances. In his final season at Fairfield (1998), Kress led his team to the school's first national ranking, a 35-2 record - included a 27-game winning streak - a 14-0 mark at home and an impressive victory over national powerhouse Notre Dame. The Stags won their third-straight regular-season MAAC championship and second consecutive tournament championship. With a winning percentage of 94.6, Fairfield was ranked third nationally behind national champion Long Beach State and national runner-up Penn State. Following the season, Kress was named AVCA/District II Coach of the Year and MAAC Coach of the Year.
Fairfield earned its second consecutive regular season MAAC title in 1997 as Kress directed the Stags to a 25-10 record, 9-0 in the conference. After winning the conference tournament, Fairfield advanced to its first NCAA Tournament where it faced Ohio State in the first round. Following the completion of the season, Kress earned his first MAAC Co-Coach of the Year.
The 1996 season marked the first time in eight years the Stags posted a winning record. After finishing his first season at Fairfield with a record of 11-21, Kress reversed the Stags' fortunes with a 23-12 record and the regular season MAAC Championship in 1996.
Prior to Fairfield, Kress served as an assistant at Saint Ursula Academy and Thomas More College. While at Saint Ursula Academy, Kress helped the squad to a 25-2 record, winning the 1994 Ohio Division II High School State Championship title. Kress was an assistant under Darrell McLean at Thomas More College during the 1992 and 1993 seasons. During those years, the Saints made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament and earned two Association of Mideast Colleges Conference trophies. In 1993, Kress also directed the men's club team at the University of Cincinnati, his alma mater.
It was at Cincinnati where Kress began his coaching career. While completing his undergraduate education, he was a two-year starter for the Bearcats' club squad and served as head coach for two Junior Olympic programs and as an assistant for the Seton High School junior varsity. After completing an associate of arts degree in communications from Edison State College in Ohio in June of 1988, Kress earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in broadcasting from Cincinnati in June of 1992.
Kress, a native of Sidney, Ohio, married the former Dani (DON-ee) Peterson in May of 1998. Dani was an assistant coach to Kress at both Northern Illinois and Fairfield for four seasons and is a volunteer coach at Florida State. The couple has two sons, Trevor (6) and Trajan (4).