September 11, 2008

Volleyball Nets New Assistant Coach

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In addition to the six freshman recruits, Oleksandr “Sasha” Gutor will be another new face on the sidelines when the volleyball team opens play this weekend. Gutor, the newly-hired assistant coach, spent the previous five seasons in charge of the men’s and women’s volleyball programs at Mount Olive College in North Carolina.
“He has an amazing resume,” said head coach Deitre Collins-Parker.
Gutor’s women’s team at Mount Olive amassed a 79-56 record, and he led the Trojans to the NCAA Division II volleyball championship in 2004 and 2005. The men’s squad totaled a 42-37 record under his watch, including a 32-12 mark in his final two seasons.
He even has some experience with familiar Ivy foes — Gutor’s Trojans defeated Harvard twice in 2008 — Mount Olive’s first wins over a Divison I team. Also, in 2003 Gutor spent a season as a volunteer assistant coach for the Penn St. men’s varsity volleyball team.
Gutor also served as the head coach of the Ukrainian Women’s Volleyball National team in 2006. His team advanced to its first-ever European qualifier but lost out on a bid to reach the Beijing Olympics.
His experience with international competition doesn’t end there. In his own playing days, Gutor was ranked in the top-25 players in the USSR and played seven seasons for the national team. He also played in the Locomotive Elite Professional Volleyball League in Kiev, Ukraine.
The Cornell coaching is familiar with the international competitive circuit, as Collins-Parker has some international playing experience of her own. She is a former member of the U.S. national team and played more than 130 international matches, including playing as the starting blocker for the 1988 Olympic team in Seoul, Korea.
While Collins-Parker said that the duo’s international experience wouldn’t translate directly into success for the Red, they could use their broader knowledge base to diversify the types of practice and strategies that the team employs in practice and in games.
“For me, it’s really exciting to learn from somebody else,” Collins-Parker said.
For his part, Gutor specializes in training setters, Collins-Parker said, and will likely work extensively with senior setter Hilary Holland and freshman setter Jordan Reeder. His experience with setters will also help the team in its new initiative to develop flexibility and depth off the bench by training players to be competent at all positions.
“It’s really nice to have someone of his caliber train them,” Collins-Parker said. “I know some [about setting], but he knows more.”
Gutor has been in Ithaca since the team started practice for the season. His family lives in the area — his wife Iryna Dolgikh is the head fencing coach at Cornell and his daughter Olena works for Cornell’s athletic alumni affairs and development and serves as an administrative assistant for the Red fencing program.
“It’s fun to see him get more comfortable with the team and talk more with the girls,” Collins-Parker said. “It’s a good balance.”