WILBERFORCE — Central State University named Ray Lewis its men’s and women’s volleyball coach.
It will be the university’s first men’s volleyball team.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to lead a new era of Central State University volleyball,” Lewis said. “It is exciting to be able to coach an up-and-coming women’s program while building a men’s program from the ground up. With the talent pool available in Ohio as well as a growing interest in the sport, we have a great opportunity to establish CSU’s reputation as a volleyball powerhouse.”
CSU Director of Athletics Tara A. Owens emphasized the importance of the student-athlete experience as part of the selection process.
“We are pleased to welcome Ray Lewis to Central State University. Throughout his coaching career, Coach Lewis has demonstrated his abilities to develop and lead programs to success on and off the court,” she said. “We believe Coach Lewis will take our women’s volleyball program to new heights while building our men’s program into a perennial contender. Under his guidance, our student-athletes will flourish on the court and in the classroom.”
Lewis comes to CSU with a national championship pedigree. In his second season as head coach of Benedictine University in Mesa, Ariz., Lewis guided the Redhawks to the 2019 NAIA men’s volleyball national championship. The team finished 26-4 and featured four NAIA All-Americans and the NAIA Tournament MVP. The Redhawks went 10-0 in the Golden State Athletic Conference and Lewis was named NAIA and GSAC coach of the year.
In his first season as head coach at Benedictine-Mesa, Lewis led the Redhawks to the school’s first NAIA National Tournament berth, finishing as runners-up with a 21-9 record a final national ranking of No. 2 in the NAIA poll.
As an assistant in 2017, Lewis helped the Redhawks place first in conference, ranking as high as No. 9 nationally, while earning the honor to host the school’s first conference tournament.
Under Lewis’ tutelage, his players at Benedictine-Mesa have earned six NAIA All-American honors, two GSAC player of the year honors, two GSAC defensive player of the year selections, two GSAC setter of the year selections, a GSAC newcomer of the year and six different all-conference honors.
Lewis also coached the boys’ volleyball team at Mesa High School and was named East Valley Region coach of the year during his first season in 2017. He also assisted with the Arizona Sizzle men’s professional team in the newly established National Volleyball Association (NVA).
Lewis had a successful stint in his home state of Nevada at he high school level, serving as head coach for both the boys and girls volleyball teams at Legacy High School for four seasons. His boys program won a state title in 2014 and finished runners-up in 2015. He was named SNVCA state coach of the year in 2014 for his state title winning team. He also led the girls program to three straight playoff appearances for the first time.
He has also achieved success at the club level, leading his teams to three consecutive top 20 finishes at the boys junior national championships. During that span, he sent more than 75 percent of his senior club athletes to play collegiate volleyball.
Lewis had a successful playing career at Lakeland College in Wisconsin, helping his team to a runner-up finish at the NCVF National Championships. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Benedictine University-Mesa. He is currently Level II certified by the USA Volleyball Coaches Accreditation Program.
In concordance with the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s decision to suspend all fall sports for the 2020 season, the Lady Marauder volleyball program did not participate in competition in the fall. CSU was 10-22 in 2019.
CSU’s decision to move forward with the addition of men’s volleyball was made in September 2019 with guidance and financial support of First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball. CSU received a $150,000 gift from First Point Volleyball Foundation and USA Volleyball to help solidify the start-up costs of the men’s program.