Head Coach Carolyn Zimmerman wrapped up her 13th season at the helm of the Cal State Fullerton volleyball program in 2014. In 13 seasons, she transformed the Titans - a team that won just five times in her first season in 2002 - into Big West Conference champions and postseason contenders in 2010.
Zimmerman entered the 2014 season as the winningest coach in Cal State Fullerton history in both number of wins and winning percentage. The head coach has compiled a 181-206 overall record and a .468 winning percentage, and is the longest tenured Titan volleyball head coach in program history.
Zimmerma was named the 2010 Big West Coach of the Year and was a CVU.com national coach of the year honorable mention after guiding the Titans - picked to finish fifth in the Big West - to a miraculous 26-6 overall record and a dominant 14-2 league mark. The Cinderella season resulted in the school's first league title and NCAA postseason appearance.
Zimmerman's 2010 Titans lost three times over the first seven matches of the year, then turned things around, winning 16 of their last 18 heading into their NCAA first round game against Colorado State in Palo Alto, Calif.
The Titans earned their first postseason berth by winning its share of the Big West crown on Nov. 19, 2010. The Titans gave Zimmerman a great 40th birthday present, beating UC Irvine in four sets to clinch a share of the league championship in Irvine's Crawford Gym. But moments later, Cal State Northridge upset second-place Long Beach State to secure the Titans' first automatic bid to the NCAA postseason.
That win against the Anteaters not only ended Long Beach State's two-year reign as conference champs, but earned the Titans the L.A. Sports Council's Greatest Div. I Sports Moment of 2010, an award Zimmerman accepted at the council's annual gala in Beverly Hills in February, 2011.
For the second straight year in 2010, the Titans beat a ranked opponent (No. 21 San Diego on Sept. 22) and eventually broke into the AVCA Top 25 the final two weeks of their season. It was the first time any Titan volleyball team had been recognized in a national poll. Fullerton beat its first ranked opponent in 2009, when the club upset No. 7 UCLA in five games on Sept. 8, 2009 in Titan Gym.
Under Zimmerman's watch, the Titans have won at least 15 matches for six of the last seven seasons (2006-10, 2012), produced their first four winning seasons (2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010) since 1996, celebrated their first winning conference record (9-7) in 2008, and registered their winningest league record (14-2) and set a school benchmark for overall wins (26) in 2010.
In producing the program's best teams over the last decade-plus, she has also mentored the most decorated group of players in the program's history. Her teams have produced a trio of AVCA All-American honorable mentions (Erin Saddler, 2010; Kayla Neto, 2009 & 2012; Brittany Moore, 2008), a pair of Big West Players of the Year (Saddler , 2010 & Moore, 2008), a Big West Freshman of the Year (Neto, 2009), 32 All-Big West Conference selections and 23 of Fullerton's 27 Big West Players of the Week honorees.
Moore finished her career with a bang, not only becoming the first Big West Conference Player of the Year under Zimmerman, but handing the program its first such player while tying the school record in kills and breaking the school record in block assists. Moore was a three-time first teamer under Zimmerman's tutelage, won five Big West Player of the Week awards, and was the first Titan to pick up more than two such honors. Moore went on to also become the Titans' first AVCA All-American honorable mention and All-West Region selection, and has also graced USA Volleyball rosters in 2009 and 2010.
Neto became the most recognized freshman in school history under Zimmerman's guidance. The outside hitter became the school's first two-time All-American Honorable Mention selection (2009 & 2012), as well as the program’s first two-time AVCA West Region Honorable Mention pick (2009 & 2012). Neto was the AVCA's West Region Freshman of the Year, a Big West first teamer and conference freshman of the year. She completed her career as one of only two players to compete in every set during four seasons on the court, and one of just eight student-athletes in Big West Conference history to earn league first team accolades for four straight years. Neto also set Titan records for career kills (1,628) and points (1,918.5) and went on to play professionally in Europe.
Saddler finished her four-year career with the most career player of the week honors, winning six of them over her last three seasons, including a school record four in 2010. She was a four-time All-Big West honoree, earning first-team honors in each of her last two years and brought home the school's second player of the year award as a senior. Saddler was also honored by the AVCA as an All-American honorable mention and an All-West Region outside hitter. She finished second all-time in Fullerton history in kills, fourth in attack percentage, sixth in total blocks and first in points.
Zimmerman has also coached other Titan record breakers in Cami Croteau (2007-10, all-time digs leader and three-time all-conference first team selection), Lauren Goins (2001-04, three-time all-conference selection and only person in 1000-kill, 1000-dig club), and Julie Geissert (2004-07, all-time assists leader). Goins, a four-year Titan hitter, went on to play professionally in Europe.
Zimmerman's 2010 Titans broke another school record when Saddler, Neto, Croteau and Torrie Brown were all named to the All-Big West first team, marking the first time four Titans were given such honor in the same season. It trumped the 2009 squad that saw Saddler, Croteau and Neto set a record with three first teamers in a season.
In 2008, Cal State Fullerton volleyball's recruiting class was recognized with an honorable mention nod in PrepVolleyball.com's Top Recruiting classes of 2008. It was the first time in the program's history that the school had been recognized for its recruiting class. Zimmerman's Titans joined traditional Big West Conference volleyball powerhouses, Long Beach State (No. 10), Cal Poly (No. 21) and UC Santa Barbara (honorable mention) on the list.
In 13 seasons, Zimmerman's teams have posted 11 pre-season tournament championships, (two in 2004, one in 2005, a school-record three in 2006, one in 2007 and 2009, two in 2010, and one in 2013) and 13 second-place finishes en route to a 90-61 non-conference record since 2004.
Zimmerman was no stranger to the Titan program prior to inheriting the team, having served as the top assistant to former head coach Mary Ellen Murchison for seven seasons (1995-2001). When Murchison retired prior to the 2002 season, Zimmerman was named interim head coach for that season and was then hired on a permanent basis in 2003.
Prior to joining the staff at Fullerton, Zimmerman was an assistant at Cal State Northridge in 1994, when the Matadors posted a 23-8 record and captured the NIVC title in post-season play. In 1995, she guided her South Bay 17-U volleyball club team to a fourth-place finish at the prestigious Nike Volleyball Festival. She was also a varsity assistant and junior varsity head coach at perennial prep powerhouse Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach.
Zimmerman is a 1992 graduate of Pepperdine, where she was the setter/right-side hitter for four West Coast Conference championship squads. A four-year letter-winner and the Waves' captain for a season, Zimmerman earned first-team All-WCC honors three times and was named the conference's Player of the Year and a Volleyball Monthly honorable mention All-American in 1991. She was also a member of the gold-medal winning south team at the Olympic Festival in Los Angeles in 1990.
Zimmerman wrapped up her Pepperdine career as the Waves' then all-time leader in digs with 1,371 (presently third) and stood third in block assists, fourth in total blocks and service aces, and eighth in kills and total attacks. She also set a Pepperdine single-season record with 383 digs in 1990.
Zimmerman is a 1988 graduate of West Torrance High School, where she was a three-sport star. In addition to earning Bay League volleyball MVP honors as a senior, she was an All-American in soccer and CIF champion, and state qualifier in track and field. She was named West Torrance's Athlete of the Year in 1987 and 1988. She was be inducted into West Torrance High School's athletic Hall of Fame in June of 2010.
Zimmerman resides in Redondo Beach with her husband, Joe, sons Jimmy, Danny and Robert, and daughter Kira.