Through its transition from Division II to the top tier of NCAA competition, Omaha has been fortunate to retain some of the bold leadership that carried UNO to success. However, legends cannot remain forever.
As was the case in the instance of Omaha volleyball. On March 14, Head Coach Rose Shires announced her retirement from the helm.
“I am proud of the 31 years of experiences I have had here at UNO,” Shires said in a statement. “The triumphs and struggles have shaped this university and athletic department into one of excellence.” 29 of those years were spent leading the team, cementing Shires’ legacy into Maverick lore forever.
On April 1, Omaha announced their replacement: Matt Buttermore. Originally from Lincoln, Buttermore coached at Bellevue and Concordia in the past before taking the lead at Hastings College.
Buttermore will have big shoes to fill: Shires had over 500 career wins and an NCAA D-II national championship under her belt. But the former Hastings head coach has seen success in his own right: in seven years, Buttermore’s Broncos won three conference titles. In 2016, Hastings won the NAIA volleyball championship. The job will be Buttermore’s first Division I position.
“Matt is a winner and embodies all of the qualities that we were looking for,” said Trev Alberts, UNO Athletic Director.
Buttermore’s decision to leave Hastings was not easy. According to Buttermore, he lost five pounds just thinking about it.
“But just over the long term, we just felt this was the best opportunity for our family,” Buttermore said.
Buttermore is left with an impressive and young squad. Last year’s volleyball team finished 12-4 in conference play before being upset in the first round of the Summit League tournament last fall. It was the program’s most conference wins since the 2015 Summit League runner-up squad finished 19-13 overall.
Since then, the Summit League has improved drastically: for the first time the conference sent two teams to the NCAA tournament in 2018. South Dakota took the conference title to advance to its first NCAA tournament in program history, while Denver earned an at-large bid.
The team will be returning a number of starters from last season’s team, including first-team all-Summit member Isabella Sade.
This week, the team hosts an off-season tournament at Marian High School. Omaha will face Drake, South Dakota State, UMKC and South Dakota all on Saturday, April 13.