Former player to coach OU men’s volleyball team

The Herald Staff
Pope

A former Ottawa University men’s volleyball player is returning to lead the program.

Ottawa University Director of Athletics Arabie Conner announced the hiring of Luke Pope as the head men’s volleyball coach. He was a two-year player for the Braves and spent a year as volunteer assistant for the OU men’s and women’s programs.

“August can certainly be a tricky time for a coaching transition, but I couldn’t be more pleased with how the timing gave us the perfect opportunity to bring coach Pope back to OU,” Conner said. “During his time competing on the court for us, and also as a student assistant coach, we all recognized his exceptional volleyball knowledge and strategic understanding of the game.

“We further believe the time he spent over the last year gaining coaching knowledge away from OU and further developing his skill sets while coaching at Jamestown has prepared him to lead our team. I’m anxious to see coach Pope’s talent, hard work and experiences return to impact the program he was so instrumental in helping to build.”

Pope spent the 2019-20 school year as a graduate assistant coach at the University of Jamestown. He helped with recruiting, worked with budgets, and scheduling. Pope helped the first year program to an overall record of 11-2 and a 5-1 conference record. Under his tutelage, freshman setter Derek Correa, who led the NAIA in assists per set (11.34), was a Second Team All-Conference selection.

Before his stint at the University of Jamestown, Pope was a volunteer assistant with both the women’s and men’s volleyball programs at Ottawa University. He organized practice plans and did scouting reports on opponents.

“I am very excited to have Luke come back to OU,” director of volleyball Melissa Blessington said. “Luke had an outstanding career as a player and a lot of that was due to his high volleyball IQ. Luke was always a tremendous competitor and student of the game. I look forward to seeing a former player take over the men's program and know he will bring the program to new heights.”

Pope has also coached club volleyball, and since August 2018, he has been a head volleyball coach for the MAVS Club. Pope coached the 15-year-olds No. 3 Club, where he planned practices and scheduled tournaments.

He was also a head volleyball coach for the HBC Club from October 2013 to July 2016. Pope was the head coach for the boys 14-year-olds No. 1 and 14-year-olds No. 2 clubs. Pope was also the head coach for the 16-year-olds No. 2 Club. During that time, he was also the head coach for the Fountain Valley High School junior varsity for both boys and girls.

Pope was a two year letterman for the Braves, playing for Blessington. Pope earned NAIA All-American honors and was the 2017 AVCA NAIA Newcomer of the Year. He was a two-time all-conference performer at setter for the Braves. Pope helped the Braves to two NAIA Invitational Tournaments. He holds the OU school record for assists in a match (68), career assists (2,490) and career assists per set (10.97).

Pope spent one season at Golden West College, where he finished his career with 676 assists, a 9.39 assist per set average, 79 digs, and 36 blocks.

Pope graduated from Ottawa University in 2019 with a degree in exercise science with an emphasis in coaching.

“When I got the call to come back to Ottawa, I knew it was exactly where I needed to be,” Pope said. “My goal is to get OU back to a top men’s program. I believe the system and culture that I want to bring to Ottawa will be successful over time and will put us back on the map. Because this is my alma mater I have a special place in my heart for this school and I want to thank everyone who helped me get here.”