HEAD COACH ALLISON LAWRENCE
The 2019 season is Allison Lawrence’s third as head coach and 10th overall with the Montana volleyball program. She was hired in January 2017 after serving the previous seven years as an assistant.
During Lawrence's two seasons at the helm, Montana's has been on an upward trajectory, increasing its win total both seasons and qualifying for the Big Sky Conference tournament in 2018, the program's first appearance since 2014. At the time she took over as head coach, Montana ranked last or second-to-last in the Big Sky Conference in every statistical category. The Grizzlies have risen by at least three spots in each category, and have increased their assists, kills, blocks and digs by roughly 100 spots apiece in the national rankings.
The 2018 season was a breakthrough in many ways. In addition to qualifying for the conference tournament, Montana posted its most wins, most Big Sky victories and most home wins since 2013. The Grizzlies won seven conference matches after winning just five in the previous two seasons combined. On the road, Montana had four true road wins, after posting just one each in 2016 and 2017.
The Grizzlies had their best start to Big Sky Conference play since 2006, with wins over Sacramento State, Portland State and Montana State. The Brawl of the Wild victory came in front of 1,314 fans, the program's ninth-largest crowd ever and largest since 2009. As a whole, Montana averaged more than 500 fans per match in 2018, its largest average attendance since 1995.
During the preseason, Montana hosted a home tournament featuring a pair of top-30 national teams. Facing No. 22 Utah of the Pac-12, Montana led by as many as four points in the first set. That night against Iowa State – a Big 12 team that was receiving top-25 votes – Montana once led 15-8. The weekend concluded with a come-from-behind win over regional rival Gonzaga. After winning the first two sets, Montana faced match point at 14-13, before winning four of the next five points to complete the victory.
In September 2018, Lawrence planned the program's first alumni weekend in more than a decade, welcoming back more than a dozen former players. During 2018, Montana also picked up Big Sky wins at Southern Utah and at Idaho State, in addition to a season sweep over Eastern Washington, hitting above .325 in both matches. In addition to non-conference wins over Gonzaga and UTEP, Montana also beat South Dakota, a team that qualified for the NCAA tournament.
While the Grizzlies have seen growth on the court, Lawrence is most proud of what she is building off of it, spending most of her focus on fixing the team's culture and cohesion.
Montana went 8-21 in 2017, Lawrence’s first year as head coach. It was a three-win improvement from the previous season and matched the most wins for the program since 2013.
In Lawrence’s seven seasons as an assistant, Montana three times finished .500 or better in Big Sky Conference matches and three times made the league’s postseason tournament. At the 2013 Big Sky tournament, No. 5 Montana defeated No. 4 Northern Arizona in the quarterfinals, the Grizzlies’ first postseason victory since 1996.
Since Lawrence has been on staff, Jaimie Thibeault earned first-team All-Big Sky honors in 2010, Kayla Reno in 2013, Hannah Sackett in 2015 and Mykaela Hammer in 2018. The Grizzlies also have had three second-team selections during that time. Additionally, Griz players have garnered 58 Academic All-Big Sky honors with Lawrence on staff.
Lawrence joined the Grizzlies in the summer of 2010 after one season as an assistant coach at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Lawrence spent the 2009 season at Trinity. She helped lead the Tigers to a 30-win season and a spot in the NCAA Division III national quarterfinals.
Lawrence, from Alta Loma, Calif., was a four-year starting outside hitter for Oregon State, from 2001 to 2004. She graduated from OSU in 2005 with a degree in philosophy and added a master’s degree in applied women’s studies from Claremont Graduate University in 2008. Lawrence was a freshman on Oregon State’s NCAA tournament team in 2001 and would go on to earn honorable-mention All-Pac-10 honors as a junior and senior. She was awarded Pac-10 academic honors in 2002, 2003 and 2004, and was an academic all-district selection as a junior.
One of the top outside hitters in Beavers history, Lawrence finished her career ranked fifth in OSU history for kills, seventh for digs and 10th for service aces.
Lawrence was a volunteer assistant coach at Oregon State in 2005 and an assistant coach at Pomona-Pitzer in 2007 and La Verne in 2008, both NCAA Division III schools in southern California. She also gained extensive coaching experience at the club level during that time.
She is married to Nate Michael. They are the parents of two sons, Wyatt and Carson.