CSU, DU among Buf­faloes’ back­ers

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Kyle Fredrick­son Kyle Fredrick­son: kfredrick­[email protected]­ver­post.com or @kyle­fredrick­son

BOUL­DER» When the re­sults were fi­nal and the Colorado vol­ley­ball team punched its first ticket to the Sweet 16 in two decades, the cell­phone be­long­ing to Buf­faloes coach Jesse Ma­honey was con­stantly abuzz.

“I think prob­a­bly ev­ery­one’s phones were blow­ing up,” he said. “Peo­ple want to talk to you when you’re win­ning, that’s for sure, right?”

No doubt about that. But there’s also no deny­ing the unique de­mo­graphic that called or texted Ma­honey when CU de­feated Bay­lor in straight sets last week in the NCAA Tour­na­ment’s round of 32, and it’s the same group that will be in his cor­ner Fri­day when the Buf­faloes face Ne­braska at Memo­rial Coli­seum in Lex­ing­ton, Ky. Few Sweet 16 coaches will have Ma­honey’s level of univer­sal statewide sup­port, be­cause few are as in­grained in their col­le­giate vol­ley­ball com­mu­ni­ties.

Ma­honey, a Boul­der na­tive, earned a pair of CU de­grees in the late 1990s, and his first var­sity coach­ing gig was as an as­sis­tant at Colorado Chris­tian. From 2005 to 2011, Ma­honey was part of Tom Hil­bert’s staff at Colorado State, in­clud­ing four as an as­so­ci­ate head coach. And be­fore Ma­honey’s time at CU, he was the head coach at the Uni­ver­sity of Den­ver over four sea­sons.

Ma­honey helped to de­velop and main­tain win­ning cul­tures at CU, CSU and DU; all three pro­grams reached the NCAA Tour­na­ment this year. And his con­tri­bu­tions aren’t for­got­ten.

“There is prob­a­bly an im­age that we’re bit­ter ri­vals or what­ever,” Hil­bert said, “but there is a lot of sup­port among all of us.”

Said DU coach Tom Ho­gan: “We’ve been kind of cheer­ing each other on through­out this sea­son. Our pro­grams and our coach­ing staffs are re­ally close.”

As an as­sis­tant in Fort Collins, Ma­honey was re­spon­si­ble for three re­cruit­ing classes ranked in the na­tional top 25 by prepvol­ley­ball.com. He later led DU to its first NCAA post­sea­son berth, and now, just two sea­sons in at CU, he has the Buf­faloes in the Sweet 16 — a height they had not reached since 1997.

“I’ve been a part of three of those pro­grams and I know the peo­ple there are all re­ally qual­ity peo­ple,” Ma­honey said. “They re­ally pri­or­i­tize vol­ley­ball, which is re­ally good for our sport.”

Asked to define Ma­honey’s coach­ing style, Hil­bert said: “He’s in­tel­li­gent, cere­bral and un­der­stands how to teach.” And, when it comes to team goals, the fi­nal des­ti­na­tion is never the fo­cus.

“(Ma­honey) puts a big em­pha­sis on baby steps,” CU se­nior Joslyn Hayes said. “Jesse and the coach­ing staff have al­ways talked about get­ting bet­ter 1 per­cent each day. That puts the em­pha­sis on ‘I can’t con­trol what’s go­ing to hap­pen three games from now and I can’t con­trol what’s go­ing to hap­pen to­mor­row, but I can con­trol what’s go­ing to hap­pen right now.’ I think that’s a huge mind-set that ev­ery­one has.”

Ma­honey ap­pre­ci­ates the statewide sup­port. But re­flec­tion on a ter­rific sea­son can wait. There are still matches to be won.

“I’ll think about what we’ve done this year af­ter this year is over,” Ma­honey said.

Paul Aiken, Daily Cam­era

CU head vol­ley­ball coach Jesse Ma­honey is a former DU head coach and a former CSU as­sis­tant.

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