Women's Volleyball
All-American Hillary Haen Returns to Alma Mater as Assistant Coach

Hillary Haen is excited to return to Huff Hall as an assistant coach, working with the Illini setters.
Hillary Haen is excited to return to Huff Hall as an assistant coach, working with the Illini setters.

Jan. 28, 2014

Champaign, Ill. – Illinois Head Volleyball Coach Kevin Hambly is proud to announce the hiring of Hillary Haen as the Fighting Illini’s newest assistant coach, effective January 29. Haen ’11 returns to her alma mater, where she led the Orange and Blue to three straight NCAA Regional appearances as the Illini’s setter from 2007-10.

“Having had former players around the program, like Johannah Bangert (Director of Operations), Laura DeBruler, Erin Johnson and Michelle Bartsch, it became very apparent to me what it means to have them back and be a part of the program,” said Hambly. “I was looking for someone to help with recruiting, to work with our setters and run our offense, and Hillary’s natural abilities fit that perfectly. Because of the relationship that I have with her from coaching, it was an easy choice for me, and I’m very excited to have her back with the program.”

Haen played 115 matches for the Fighting Illini from 2007-10, taking over as the starting setter her sophomore year. The Crystal Lake, Ill., native finished her career ranked fourth all-time at Illinois with 3,956 assists, including 1,471 as a senior. As the quarterback of the Illini offense in 2009, Haen ranked second in the Big Ten and 16th in the nation in assists (11.42 per set), garnering AVCA All-America and All-Region Honorable Mentions, while earning All-Big Ten honors.

She topped that performance in her final season, earning Third Team All-America by both the AVCA and Volleyball Magazine, capturing an All-Mideast Region First Team selection and her second-straight All-Big Ten award. Additionally, she was a star in the classroom, tabbing three-straight Academic All-Big Ten awards and earning Academic All-District in 2009.

Following her Illinois career, Haen has coached three different programs at the high school and club level. In 2011, she coached at Eastside Volleyball Club, and she took over as the owner of the Peoria Elite Volleyball Club in 2012. Her responsibilities in Peoria included recruiting new members, managing the club’s finances and helping her players with the college recruiting process. She then served as the head varsity volleyball coach at Illinois Valley Central High School for the 2012-13 season, where she managed a staff of two assistant coaches and a volunteer.

Haen also has work experience in the business world, having served as a staff accountant and a human resources representative for Caterpillar. While there, Haen focused on team-building and leadership development, and Coach Hambly is confident that the experiences the gained in the office will be a great resource to her in her new position.

“I saw first-hand with Mary (Coleman Hambly) having been in the business world, that the benefits of bringing that professionalism to the job are invaluable. Even though Hillary has not coached at this level, that professional experience and the fact that she played Division I volleyball have suppressed my doubts and made me extremely excited to bring her on to this staff. I think she will be incredible in this role.”

Haen will serve as the recruiting coordinator for the Fighting Illini, and will work directly with the setters as well as run the offense. Her contract begins January 29, 2014.

“When I was recruited at Illinois, Kevin asked me to come and be a part of building a program from the bottom up,” said Haen. “It was a risk that each girl in my class took in joining Illinois. At the end of our four years, we had built something special, but in a lot of ways we were just scratching the surface of potential. It's exciting to come back to that original dream, but with a new set of players.”