Chris Riley was named Virginia Tech head volleyball coach in 2006 and is entering his eighth season at the helm.
During his tenure, Riley has coached three first team All-ACC honorees, including three-time winners, Felicia Willoughby and Cara Baarendse. Five players have earned spots on the All-Freshman team and Willoughby was named Freshman of the Year in 2007. In addition, three players have been recognized as AVCA All-America with Katie Esbrook (2006), Willoughby (2008, 2009, 2010) and Baarendse (2010, 2011) earning honors.
In 2012, Riley guided the Hokies to an 18-14 record and 9-11 in the ACC to finish seventh. Tech picked up a 3-0 win over Miami to snap a five-match slide against the Hurricanes. Baarendse finished up her career, winning All-ACC honors for the third time and completing her career as Tech’s all-time leader in hitting percentage.
During the 2011 campaign, the Hokies went 18-13 and 11-9 in the ACC to finish sixth. Baarendse was named All-ACC, AVCA All-East Region and earned All-America honors.
In 2010, Riley led the Hokies to arguably their best season in program history. Under his direction, the Hokies defeated an AVCA top-25 opponent for the first time in school history (No. 25 Florida State, W 3-2, Oct. 29), and they earned their first ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Hokies went 20-12, 10-10 in the ACC, and went undefeated (6-0) in neutral matches for the first time ever. Not only did the Hokies go to the NCAA Tournament, but they defeated Delaware, 3-0, in the first round, and put up a strong fight against fourth-seeded Penn State in the second round, who went on to win its fourth straight national title. Additionally, he coached the first pair of Hokies to ever earn All-America honors in the same season, as Willoughby and Baarendse both picked up honorable mentions.
Riley coached the Hokies to a 12-3 record in Cassell Coliseum in 2009, picking up the most home wins since 1998, when the Hokies went 12-2 on their own court. It was just the sixth time in Hokie history that the team won 12 or more matches at home. Tech finished with a 19-12 overall record, going 9-11 in ACC play and finishing in a tie with Wake Forest for seventh. Under his direction, Willoughby once again took home several impressive awards, including AVCA First Team All-East Region and All-America Honorable Mention. Sophomores Justine Record and Erin Leaser both earned VaSID Second Team All-State honors. Senior libero Jill Gergen set a new Tech record for digs in a match, registering 37 against Clemson on October 19, and Baarendse broke the record for freshman hitting percentage, going .354 on the season.
In 2008, Riley took a young squad welcoming seven newcomers and turned it into a strong ACC contender. The Hokies went 20-11, 11-9 in the ACC, winning 20 matches for the first time since 2002, and sat atop the ACC standings for much of the conference season. Tech also won 11 straight matches at one point in the season, matching the longest winning streak in school history. Sophomore Willoughby blossomed under Riley’s direction, breaking the school record and leading the ACC in season hitting percentage (.402). Willoughby led the team in kills (326) and blocks (117), and captured honorable mention All-America, First Team All-AVCA East Region, First Team All-ACC and First Team All-State accolades. Riley also helped develop freshman setter Leaser, who tallied 1,084 assists on the year, fifth-most among Tech freshmen all time. Leaser earned a spot on the ACC All-Freshman team, received Second Team All-State honors and was named the state’s Rookie of the Year by the Virginia Sports Information Directors of America.
Riley guided a young Tech squad to a 14-18 record in 2007, and an 8-14 mark in the ACC, tying for eighth place in the conference. Riley led the group to the program’s 550th victory, coming over Wake Forest on Oct. 20, and its second consecutive sweep of the Hawthorn Suites Hokie Invitational. The Hokies set Virginia Tech records with 611 block assists and 394.5 total blocks as a team in 2007. Willoughby flourished in her rookie campaign, having one of the best seasons ever for a Hokie freshman. The Pleasanton, Calif., native set a Tech record with 172 total blocks on the season, ranking first in the ACC and 11th in the nation. Willoughby also broke a Hokie record with 143 block assists.
In 2006, Riley led the team to its best finish since joining the ACC. The Hokies finished with a 17-14 overall record, their first winning season since 2002. Tech won a school-record 11 conference matches, including season sweeps of the 2005 Co-ACC Champions and NCAA Tournament participants Maryland and North Carolina, en route to a sixth-place finish in the league.
Prior to coming to Tech, Riley spent six seasons at Towson University, where he led the team to five straight 20-win seasons, three Colonial Athletic Association regular season championships, the 2004 CAA tournament championship and the 2004 NCAA Tournament. He won the CAA Coach of the Year award in 2003, and the America East Coach of the Year award in 2001. Riley had an overall record of 144-54 at Towson.
Before his stint at Towson, Riley spent six years at St. John’s University in New York. While serving as an assistant with the Red Storm, Riley helped lead the team in its inaugural year as a Division I program. He implemented off-season training programs and assisted with recruiting. Riley also started the first volleyball camp at St. John’s.
Riley also spent one season as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Jacksonville University.
A 1993 graduate of Jacksonville with a bachelor of arts in English, he played for the Dolphins’ golf team and formed the men’s volleyball club. He was the captain of the volleyball club as a senior.
Riley has competed in beach and USA Volleyball indoor leagues and tournaments. In addition to his college coaching experience, Riley also served as the head coach for the Long Island-Big Apple Volleyball Club, a nationally recognized junior team in Nassau, N.Y., from 1998-2000.
Riley and his wife, the former Tara Cahill, are the parents of sons, Aidan and Quinn, and a daughter, Kieran. They reside in Blacksburg, Va.
Shelbylynn Adair joined the Virginia Tech volleyball staff in 2006 and is entering her eighth season with the Hokies.
Adair oversees the recruitment efforts for the program. Since joining the staff, the Hokies have had three first team All-ACC honorees, including three-time winners, Felicia Willoughby and Cara Baarendse. Five players have earned spots on the All-Freshman team and Willoughby was named Freshman of the Year in 2007. In addition, Willoughby (2008, 2009, 2010) and Baarendse (2010, 2011) have earned multiple All-America honors.
Prior to coming to Tech, Adair worked with current Tech head coach Chris Riley at Towson University as an assistant. While with the Tigers, she helped lead the program to a 28-7 finish in 2005.
In 2004, Adair worked as an assistant at UMBC. The Retrievers went 13-18 overall and 4-10 in the America East, finishing seventh in the league that year. She briefly took over as interim head coach before being hired at Towson.
Adair played both basketball and volleyball as an undergraduate for the George Mason Patriots before finishing her final year of volleyball eligibility as a graduate student at Georgia State University.
At Georgia State, she led the Panthers to the 2003 Atlantic Sun Conference championship game and led the team with 3.46 kills per game. The Panthers ended the season 27-8 overall and 9-1 in the conference.
Adair tallied 688 career kills in three seasons at George Mason. She was Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Year in 1999 and was the only freshman to earn second-team All-CAA honors that year. She also lettered in basketball, scoring 719 career points.
Adair coached at Georgia State for eight months as a graduate assistant following her final year of eligibility and served as an assistant coach for the Metro Volleyball Club in Fairfax, Va., between November 2001 and May 2002.
A Valrico, Fla., native, Adair is married to Virginia Tech women’s soccer head coach Chugger Adair.
Chao brings more than 23 years of volleyball coaching experience to the Tech staff, including 17 in the men’s game and six in the women’s.
Chao joins the Hokies after serving as the head coach of the men’s volleyball program at George Mason since 1998. A three-time Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA) Coach of the Year, Chao guided the Patriots to 15 consecutive appearances in the EIVA Championship Tournament. Mason made it to the EIVA final five times in Chao’s era, losing all matches at the hands of volleyball powerhouse and national champion Penn State. The Patriots overall record with Chao at the helm was 246-204.
Chao simultaneously worked with the George Mason women’s volleyball program as well, serving as an assistant coach from 1998-2004.
The George Mason men’s team achieved national rankings during several seasons under the leadership of Chao. In 2006, Chao led the Patriots to one of their most successful seasons ever, as they finished 22-6 overall, with an 11-1 record in conference play. George Mason finished the season as the No. 14 team in the nation, marking the second consecutive season the Patriots finished the season ranked among the nation's top 15. Mason was ranked in every top-15 poll during the 2008 season, reaching a high of No. 11, and finishing the season as the only team to defeat eventual national champion Penn State, downing the Nittany Lions in four games on March 7 at the Mason Field House.
Chao also has international experience. In 2005, he served as an assistant coach on the USA Junior National Team that traveled to India for the World Championships.
Prior to landing his positions at George Mason, he was an assistant coach at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (1997-98).
A Silver Spring, Maryland native, Chao graduated from George Mason with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a concentration in physiological psychology, in 1994. He received his master’s degree in educational psychology, with a concentration in learning, cognition and motivation, in 2014.