As she moves into her ninth season as the head coach of the Seattle University volleyball program, Shannon Ellis has established a winning tradition. She has proven herself capable of recruiting talented players and coaching those student-athletes to reach their highest potential, and that philosophy has translated into team success over the past eight years.
The 2011 season was highlighted by victories over Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, Air Force, Boise State, and CSU Bakersfield. The year was also capped by the culmination of the collegiate careers of Megan Augustavo, a versatile player who moved into the setter position in 2011; Jordan Keller, the all-time leader in blocks for the Redhawks; and Cristin Richards, one of the top outside hitters in the history of the program.
In 2010, Ellis led her team to an 18-13 record, the first winning season for the volleyball program at the Division I level. The early season was marked by victories over Eastern Washington, Gonzaga, and Idaho, as well as pushing Pac-10 schools Oregon and Oregon State to five sets. In another tough five-setter in front of a raucous crowd, Seattle U defeated Portland at the Connolly Center. Ellis helped the squad put together a nine-match winning streak near the end of the season, including back-to-back victories over Cal State Bakersfield that gave Seattle U the Division I Independent Championship.
Ellis and her squad faced several top teams during the 2009 season, including bringing national power Washington to the Connolly Center as the two Seattle schools co-hosted the Invitational at Seattle. Seattle U defeated WAC school San Jose State during that tournament, then later earned a tie for the best record at the Pepperdine Asics Classic with back-to-back victories over UC Riverside and Army. The team also showed its perseverance with five-set wins at South Dakota, at Montana State, and at Cal State Bakersfield.
Ellis put together a challenging schedule for 2008, one that tested her team as the program began the transition to Division I status. The players responded quickly, defeating Boise State on its home floor in the season opener. After neutral site victories over Idaho and Penn, the team defended the North Court of the Connolly Center, winning the Dig For The Cure Classic with victories over South Dakota, North Dakota, and Bryant.
In 2007 Ellis dealt with a young, inexperienced team, setting the groundwork for the future by starting three freshmen and a sophomore several times during the season. Setter Jamie Mellies was named GNAC Co-Freshman of the Year, while libero Emily Deleissegues quickly continued the tradition of top-notch defensive talent at Seattle University. The team finished with a 10-16 record, but five of those losses came in five-game matches.
In 2006, she successfully led her squad to a 9-2 non-conference record, including victories over regional foes Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State Los Angeles, and Hawaii Pacific. The team went through some tough times at the beginning of the conference season, but Ellis helped steady her young team, as the Redhawks finished with eight victories in their last 11 matches for an 18-9 overall record.
Once again Ellis' philosophy of tough defense and solid offense led to a record-breaking performance. In her senior year, Melissa Mulick set school records for most digs in a match (41) and most digs in a season (637). Mulick was also an outstanding student, earning Academic All-GNAC honors for the third time and ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District First Team recognition. Ellis' emphasis on her team's academic performance led to four Academic All-GNAC honorees, three Academic All-District performers, and the GamePlan/AVCA Academic Team Award, as well as the second-highest GPA among GNAC volleyball teams.
After a tough start to the 2005 season, Ellis helped the Redhawks recover, as the team posted a 17-12 overall record, the fourth consecutive winning season for the program. Seattle University was very successful in conference play, finishing 14-4 in the GNAC, good enough for a third place finish and the best conference record in school history.
In her first season as head coach, Ellis led Seattle to a 14-12 overall record, including an impressive 12-6 record in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Not afraid to face the top teams of the region, Ellis' squad fought back for its winning record, winning 12 of its final 18 matches. Other accomplishments include leading Seattle to a non-conference win over Pacific Region powerhouse Cal Poly Pomona in a five-game thriller in Pomona's gym, and guiding the team to the first win in Alaska in the program's history.
Over her first two seasons, Ellis oversaw the continued development of two of the best players in program history. Sarah Sommerman became the GNAC's all-time kills leader with 1,461 career kills. Maggie Safranski notched 2,008 defensive digs in her career, becoming the 15th player in Division II history to reach the 2,000-career dig plateau in the season finale against Humboldt State.
Ellis came to Seattle from Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Penn., where she served as assistant coach for two seasons. During that time, her team finished second and third in the Patriot League while maintaining a 3.5 team grade point average.
In addition to her assistant coaching duties, Ellis also served as a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association Assistant Coaches Committee. She earned a master's degree in education counseling from Bucknell in 2004. Before arriving at Bucknell, Ellis taught physical education at Lehi High School in Lehi, Utah. While teaching at Lehi, Ellis also coached the volleyball and softball teams.Ellis had an impressive playing career in her own right. She played collegiately for Texas Christian University where she earned two varsity letters and was named to the Dean's List. She was awarded Academic All-Conference honors from the Western Athletic Conference in 1997. Ellis graduated from Brigham Young University in 2002 with a degree in physical education and a minor in mathematics. While at BYU, she was a member of the women's rugby team and a teacher in the Student Leadership Seminar.
Ellis and her husband Brian have two sons, Zachary and Tyler, and the family resides in West Seattle, Wash.