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Since his arrival in East Lansing in 1993, Erbe has resurrected the Spartan program, guiding MSU to back-to-back Big Ten titles in 1995 and '96, and 10 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, currently the most consecutive post-season NCAA Touranment showings of any Spartan athletic program.
Michigan State volleyball's ascent has helped Erbe and his staff attract several Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 and high school All-Americans to the program. The Spartans boast two Fab 50 players in 2004 in Mickey Davis and Maggie Griffin.
One of the great technical coaches in the collegiate game today, Erbe has served on the U.S. National Team Review Committee since 1984 and is currently an advisor to the U.S. Women's National Team. In summer 2000, Erbe led the Spartans on a three-week tour of Europe. During the summers of 1997 and 1998, he spent time in Aukra, Norway, working with that country's national team and coaches and giving coaching clinics. In 1997, he also spent 10 days in Colorado Springs working with the National Team.
Now in his 24th season at the collegiate level with almost 550 career victories, including 232 at MSU, Erbe's goals are the same every season -- win the Big Ten Championship, compete for the national title and provide an atmosphere where players can succeed in the classroom and on the court.
His 11-year record at MSU speaks for itself. He has guided the Spartans to a mark of 232-124, including a 19-12 record in 2003 and 10 consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament, including appearances in the Regional Semifinals, Regional Finals and as a National Semifinalist in 1995. State was ranked 22nd in the final 2002 USA Today/AVCA poll, and 2002 senior Angela Morley was named First-Team All-Big Ten.
When he arrived at MSU, Erbe boldly predicted the Spartans would win a Big Ten title and be competitive with the nation's elite programs.
In just his third season at the helm of the MSU program, Erbe delivered on his promise of a title, leading the Spartans to their first-ever Big Ten championship -- and league finish higher than seventh -- in 1995 with a 19-1 conference record.
Not only did the Spartans take the Big Ten Conference by storm, but they climbed to the forefront on the national scene as well, earning their first-ever national ranking and climbing to as high as No. 3 in the polls. In just its second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, MSU defeated previously unbeaten Hawaii before 10,000 fans in Honolulu in the Mountain Region final. The come-from-behind five-game victory propelled the Spartans into the national semifinals and the national limelight.
Despite a five-game loss to eventual national champion Nebraska, the Spartans put together their finest season in program history with a 34-3 overall record. MSU had also posted its first back-to-back winning seasons since 1979-80, while its 34 wins in 1995 were the most since 1976.
Erbe was recognized by his peers for his efforts in revitalizing the Spartan program, earning 1995 Big Ten, AVCA District 2 and AVCA National Coach of the Year honors. In addition, he was tabbed as the Volleyball Magazine National Coach of the Year.
Several Spartans also reaped the rewards of success. Dana Cooke, Val Sterk and Jenna Wrobel were named to the first-team All-Big Ten squad, with Wrobel being named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year and earning a spot on Volleyball Magazine's Freshman All-America squad.
Cooke, Courtney DeBolt and Sterk also earned the distinction of becoming MSU's first-ever All-Americans. Jenna Wrobel joined the elite club in 1998.
The success of the Spartan volleyball program has not gone unnoticed as Erbe has helped turn East Lansing into a volleyball-crazed city.
Attendance figures have increased noticeably since Erbe's first season with MSU in 1993. The Spartans finished among the top schools in the country in attendance in 1995 and '96. In '96, MSU was sixth in total attendance (35,867) and average (2,391) while in '95, State was fifth in total attendance (31,799) and 12th in average (1,590). Last season marked the eighth time in nine years that MSU averaged better than 1,000 fans per match, and was the ninth straight year that the Spartans ranked in the nation's top 30 in attendance.
It should come as no surprise that Erbe, who has won nine national titles at various levels in 29 years of coaching, was able to change so quickly the fortunes of a program that was the doormat of the Big Ten prior to his arrival.
The 60-year-old Erbe's first Michigan State highlight came in 1994 when the school was selected to its first-ever NCAA Tournament. Despite losing to Texas A&M in the first round, the foundation for a successful future had clearly been established.
Erbe, who has a 23-year career record of 542-245-3, first entered the collegiate scene with a 12-year tenure (1976-77, 1979-88) as the head coach at the University of Southern California where he compiled a record of 310-121-3.
He led the Trojans to AIAW National Championships in 1976, 1977 and 1980, and to the NCAA National Championship in 1981, the first year of NCAA competition for women's sports. USC advanced to AIAW or NCAA Tournament play in 11 of his 12 years as head coach.
Erbe's first two teams at USC won AIAW National Championships with a combined record of 72-1. His 1977 squad, which amassed a perfect 38-0 record, included six All-Americans and is still considered by many to be the best collegiate volleyball team ever assembled. During his tenure, USC players earned All-America honors 24 times.
Internationally, Erbe led the United States women's team in the 1981 World University Games in Bucharest, Romania. In 1979, he served as an assistant coach for the women's U.S. National Team. Erbe headed the U.S. women's team in the 1974 World Volleyball Championships in Mexico City, Mexico, and led the United States to back-to-back titles in the Pacific Rim Junior Championships in 1975 and 1976. The 1975 win marked the first time in volleyball history that a USA team defeated Japan at any level of competition.
Erbe began his coaching career in 1973 at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, Calif., where he helped guide the team to a perfect 20-0 record and the National High School Volleyball Championship.
After leaving USC in 1988, Erbe spent one season (1989) as an assistant coach at Illinois and from 1990 until his appointment at MSU, he served as the Director of the Great Lakes Volleyball Center in Chicago.
Born Oct. 12, 1944, in Tulsa, Okla., Erbe attended Ripon College (Wis.) and Kansas before serving as a hospital Corpsman in the U.S. Navy from 1964-68. After leaving the Navy, Erbe completed his degree in physical education at Cal State Fullerton (1968-72).
Erbe is married to Rebecca, who works in MSU's compliance office.