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Longtime Associate Head Coach Retires Effective Dec. 31
Russ Carney is in his 10th season at Michigan State, but has shared a sideline with Cathy George for more than 20 years. Carney came to MSU with George after the pair spent 11 years guiding the Western Michigan program, and was promoted to Associate Head Coach on June 19, 2008.
His relationship with George, along with assistant coach Mike Gawlik, has given MSU nearly unprecedented continuity on its sideline, as the trio has worked together for all nine years of George's tenure.
Over the last several seasons, Carney has played an instrumental role in assembling some of the top recruiting classes in Michigan State history. Most recently, the Spartans posted back-to-back Top-10 classes, ranked No. 7 in 2013 and for 2014 achieving a program-high rank of No. 6 by PrepVolleyball.com; MSU's 2007 class was also the No. 7 class in the country and the top-rated class in the Big Ten that season. Another of Carney's roles is that of the academic coordinator on the coaching staff. The team boasts an overall grade-point average of 3.3, had six athletes earn Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2013 and three become Big Ten Distinguished Scholars. Kristen Kelsay became the program's fourth Academic All-American in 2013 as well.
One of Carney's areas of focus is working on MSU's service game, and MSU led the Big Ten and ranked 40th in the country in aces in 2014.
In recent seasons, Carney assisted in the growth of Alexis Mathews, who graduated as one of the most imposing blockers in program and Big Ten history. She finished her career second all-time in blocks (624), blocks per set (1.31), and hitting percentage (.343), while leaving as the all-time leader in block assists (562). Mathews put together an All-America final season where she was second in the Big Ten and 11th nationally in blocks per set (1.47) and third in the Big Ten and 26th nationally in hitting percentage, (.395). A three-year participant in the U.S. National A2 program, Mathews was invited to train under US National Team head coach Karch Kiraly at the USA volleyball training block in the spring of 2014.
Under the guidance of Carney in 2009, Kyndra Abron became the first sophomore in program history to be tabbed as an American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-American. Abron also earned All-Mideast Region honorable mention as well as first-team All-Big Ten honors. Also, former Spartan Vanessa King is a student-athlete who thrived under the tutelage of Carney. King ended her career ranked as one of the most efficient hitters in school history and was arguably one of the best middle blockers in the Big Ten in 2008. In fact, Carney was a prime reason that King was selected to the All-Big Ten First Team in 2008 and to the All-Big Ten Freshman team in 2006.
A Tunkhannock, Pa., native, Carney started his collegiate coaching career as an assistant coach at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Mich., in 1978. He assumed the head coaching duties at KCC in 1980 and promptly guided the Bruins to the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship that year.
Carney went on to serve as an assistant coach at Wisconsin in 1981 before he was named head coach of the Badgers in 1982, where he remained until 1984. During his stint at Wisconsin, Carney served as head coach of the 1981 U.S. Olympic Festival Men's East Team, guiding that squad to the Gold medal. He was a member of both the NCAA Midwest Regional and Big Ten Conference officiating committees.
A setter in college, Carney attended Kellogg Community College (1973-74) before transferring to Ball State University (1976). He earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from BSU in 1978.
Russ and his wife Sherry have a daughter, Jessica, 24, and a son, Branden, 22. The family resides in Battle Creek, Mich.