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UNLV announces new volleyball coach with deep family ties

Malia Shoji, the former associate head coach at Utah and a member of a vaunted volleyball family, was announced as the eighth coach in UNLV volleyball history Wednesday.

“Becoming a head coach has always been a dream of mine,” Shoji said in a release, “and there is no better school than UNLV and no better place than Las Vegas. The flourishing volleyball community in this city is one that I am thrilled to be a part of.”

Former Rebels coach Dawn Sullivan, who led UNLV to two NCAA Tournament appearances in the past three seasons and helped capture the Mountain West regular-season championship this year, departed to take the same position at Missouri on Dec. 18. Sullivan was the fastest coach in the program’s history to reach the 100-win milestone.

Shoji spent the past eight seasons at Utah, serving as the team’s associate head coach under longtime coach Beth Launiere.

Utah has qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the past six years, reaching two Sweet 16s. The Utes have also finished third in the Pac-12, one of the premier volleyball conferences, for three straight seasons.

Shoji’s father, Tom Shoji, spent three decades coaching around the country. Her uncle, Dave Shoji, won four national championships as the longtime coach at Hawaii.

Her cousins Kawika Shoji and Erik Shoji starred at Stanford and were U.S. Olympians, earning a bronze medal at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. Another cousin, Cobey Shoji, was a volleyball letter-winner at UNLV in 1997.

“Malia grew up in the gym and has coaching in her DNA,” UNLV athletic director Erick Harper said in a release. “Not only can she teach the game, but she will lead our young women in the classroom and in the community, and she values how to help prepare them for life after college.”

Before her time at Utah, Shoji was an assistant at Western Oregon and Willamette University. She also helped lead the USA Volleyball women’s Junior A1 team in 2019.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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