Travis Hudson announces WKU volleyball staff changes, welcomes Jessica Lucas ‘home’

WKU senior Jessica Lucas (1) sets the ball to Rachel Anderson (4) during a game vs. Louisiana Tech on September 29, 2017 in EA Diddle Arena. “There is no one who is able to do what we can do offensively on the court,” head coach Travis Hudson said before the game.

Drake Kizer

WKU volleyball head coach Travis Hudson has added former Lady Topper standout Jessica Lucas to his coaching staff and shifted assistants Craig Bere and Kristi Griffin, the program announced Tuesday.

Lucas joins the WKU staff as an assistant coach, while Griffin moves into the program’s director of operations role. Bere has been elevated to the first assistant position.

“We are incredibly excited to bring Jessica back into the WKU Volleyball family as a coach,” Hudson said in a release. “It’s always nice to bring someone back home, but this is way bigger than that. Jess is a very, very talented young coach that I believe will help us keep moving in a positive direction and continue to make noise on the national level.”

Lucas returns to The Hill after two years on the Purdue staff under head coach Dave Shondell.

She held a graduate manager position with the Boilermakers for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Over those seasons, Purdue posted records of 24-9 and 24-8, respectively, while registering a 3-2 record in the NCAA Tournament.

A 2018 graduate of WKU, Lucas returns home to the Hill, where her decorated playing career took place.

The Seymour, Indiana, native is one of three WKU volleyball players to earn AVCA All-American status all four seasons of her career (2014-17). Lucas was the first three-time Setter of the Year in Conference USA (2015-17) while also earning First Team All-American status as a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award.

Across her career, Lucas would earn eight collective All-Americans nods and was a four-time C-USA First Team All-Conference selection among numerous additional accolades.

Across her four years on The Hill, Lucas and the Lady Toppers posted an overall record of 123-17, which included a 57-3 record in the program’s first four seasons as a Conference USA member.

WKU claimed both the regular season and tournament titles all four years of Lucas’ career as her class became the program’s first to appear in the NCAA Tournament every year of their careers.

“I could not be happier to be back home,” Lucas said in a release. “This is an incredible opportunity on so many levels. I have countless unforgettable memories in Diddle Arena from my playing years and I can’t wait to add more as a WKU coach. I am incredibly grateful to both Travis Hudson and Todd Stewart for this opportunity and I am so excited to be a Lady Topper again.”

In her return to the Hill, Lucas will work primarily with the squad’s setters. She will also be assisting with all other aspects of the game in addition to recruiting, as she fills the role previously held by Griffin.

Moving into an administrative role to spend more time with her young family, Griffin will handle team logistics in addition to scheduling, camps and academics. Her move comes after 11 seasons as an assistant on Hudson’s staff at WKU.

Since Griffin arrived at WKU prior to the 2009 season, the Lady Toppers have posted a 318-61 overall record, a 156-14 reading in conference play, won 15 collective league championships, made eight NCAA Tournament appearances and has earned the AVCA Team Academic Award every season.

“I am excited for the opportunity to move into our Director of Operations position which will lessen the travel grind that comes with the recruiting aspect of coaching,” Griffin said in a release. “I am blessed to be able to stay within the WKU Volleyball family while being able to spend more time at home with my family as well. I am thrilled to see Jess added to our staff. I coached her for four years and will truly enjoy helping to mentor her as she begins her coaching career here at WKU.”

Prior to her time on the Hill, Griffin served as an assistant coach at Jacksonville State from 2004-07 and Southern Indiana – her alma mater – in 2003. Following her playing career with the Screaming Eagles’ from 1999-2002, Griffin joined Bere on the USI coaching staff.

“Kristi is such a talented administrator on top of being a fantastic coach,” Hudson said in a release. “She has really driven the administrative side of this program for many years. Kristi has coordinated all of our camps and did so many other things with recruiting and responsibilities of that nature. She’ll continue to make a massive impact on our program in this role but this will allow her to spend more time raising her boys.”

As Griffin shifts into the director of operations position and Lucas joins the staff, Bere will be promoted to the Lady Toppers’ first assistant.

The 2019 campaign marked Bere’s fifth year on Hudson’s staff and in that span, WKU has posted an overall record of 145-23 and a 67-5 mark in C-USA play. With Bere on staff, WKU has won eight combined conference championships while making four NCAA Tournament appearances.

“We’re just shifting a lot of responsibilities as we try to maximize the strengths of everybody involved,” Hudson said in a release. “I have so much respect for the job that Craig and Kristi have done through the years and we’ve always approached this as a group effort much more than as a head coach and his assistants. That won’t change and we will continue to get better and better.”

Prior to his 2015 arrival on The Hill, Bere served as an assistant coach at Notre Dame (2014), Georgia Tech (2009-13), Louisville (2007-08), LSU (2004-06), Mississippi State (1997-2001) and his alma mater, Morehead State (1994-97). Additionally, Bere spent the 2002-03 seasons as the head coach at Southern Indiana with Griffin.

Sports Editor Drake Kizer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Drake on Twitter at @drakekizer_.