Trey Cruz is no stranger to volleyball.
After two seasons as an assistant coach for LSU’s beach volleyball team, Cruz is returning to the hardwood. In May, head coach Fran Flory announced he would replace Ethan Pheister, who is now an assistant at South Carolina.
Even though Cruz’s past two seasons were with the beach volleyball team, Cruz has prior experience with indoor volleyball. Cruz served as the lead video analyst and exchange at Louisiana-Lafayette in 2015 and 2016. There, he helped strengthen the passers and outside hitters, which is different from what he does with LSU.
“For indoor, there’s a lot more matches, a longer season, longer planning period of where you’re trying to go as a team,” Cruz said. “The progress takes a little longer, so the duration of things is a little long. It’s a little more a grind, honestly. But in terms of what it is, it’s the same. You’re still planning practice, you’re still doing technical training, getting kids better and building up team building by the end of the week.”
Cruz is in charge of the Tigers’ defensive side of the team, working with the players on their defensive training and blocking techniques.
However, he still interacts with the team as the whole, giving advice and being a coach to all. Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Bannister has had a great start to her season, producing double-digit stats in each game so far.
“He actually helps out, especially with the outside hitters, especially, with our approaches and acceleration. He really helps out with that, especially me being the baby of the outside hitters,” Bannister said.
This is also not his first time working with LSU volleyball or Flory, either. Cruz worked as a manager for the volleyball team from 2008-14 during his time as a student.
“It is pretty fun to come full-circle,” Cruz said. “I always said when I left here, originally from being a student to actually get into the workforce, I’ve gotta find a way to get back here. Fran is my family. She did so much for me personally in building my career, I just feel like I owe it to her to come back and work and see how good we can get.”
Flory emphasized the family aspect of the program and how her relationship with Cruz has developed since his time as a manager. She was very confident in Cruz’s ability to bring more to this team as part of her coaching staff.
“When you’re family, you’re family. Once a tiger, always a tiger.” Flory said.
Cruz is well on his way to earning his credibility from the players, staff and LSU volleyball fans. He continues to work hard with the defense, building stamina and making great players.
“He knows how I work. He knows how to drive a team that I’m coaching. He’s been part of a high-level of success here, and he just understands the system, and he understands LSU and what it means to put that jersey on and represent it. I think all of those are intangibles that maybe you don’t get from any other hire,” Flory said. “I’m thrilled that an opportunity presented itself, and I’m thrilled he said yes.”