Nicole Lantagne Welch is coming off of her sixth season as UC Santa Barbara's head coach.
Over the course of her 17-year head coaching career, the former University of Maryland standout has compiled a career record of 323-209 (.607), been named an AVCA Region Coach of the year three times and a conference coach of the year twice (ACC, 2012 & Big West, 2013). Since arriving at UCSB in 2013, Lantagne Welch has had three top 30 recruiting classes, including the 2015 class that ranked No. 18 in the nation, the highest in school history.
Lantagne Welch and the Gauchos are coming off a 2018 season in which they finished 17-12 overall and 9-7 in conference. The 17 wins were one shy of her highest win total at UCSB, sending the Gauchos to their first postseason appearance since 2013 at the NIVC Invitational in Las Vegas. Under Lantagne Welch's guidance, junior outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins would become just the second Gaucho in program history to be named an AVCA All-American three times, as she finished second in the nation with 5.34 kills per set and set a program record with 587 kills. Fellow All-Big West First Team honoree Emilia Petrachi also made history, breaking the program's all-time digs record with 1,959 career digs and setting a conference record with eight career Big West Defensive Player of the Week awards. Freshmen standouts Olivia Lovenberg and Gigi Ruddins were also named to the All-Big West Freshman Team.
During the 2016 season, Lantagne Welch led the Gauchos to a 17-12 overall, 8-8 conference record. Both of those marks were good for fourth-best in the Big West, moving UCSB up four spots in the standings from the previous year. Led by Big West Freshman of the Year Lindsey Ruddins, the Gauchos finished with four All-Big West selections. Senior Elizabeth Sheffield (Honorable Mention), junior Chanel Hoffman (Honorable Mention) and freshman Rowan Ennis (All-Freshman) rounded out UCSB's all-conference representatives. Ruddins (First Team) finished the year with three Big West Player of the Week awards, three All-Tournament selections, an All-Pacific South Region Honorable Mention, and an AVCA Honorable Mention All-American selection. She was just the third freshman in program history and the first since Taylor Formico (2012) to be named an All-American.
In 2015, Lantagne Welch guided two Gauchos to All-Big West Honorable Mentions. Junior Phoebe Grunt earned her second career Honorable Mention after setting a career-high in kills (176), finishing third in the conference in hitting percentage (.335) and notching the fourth-most total blocks (98). Libero Emilia Petrachi also earned an Honorable Mention in just her freshman season after ranking second in the Big West in digs per set (4.60).
Following her second season at the helm in 2014, Lantagne Welch coached Ali Barbeau to her second consecutive First Team All-Big West honor, while she also saw Chanel Hoffman and Ali Spindt earn Honorable Mention status. Overall, the Gauchos finished 13-14 with an 8-8 conference mark.
In her first year at the helm for UCSB in 2013, Lantagne Welch made an instant impact, leading the Gauchos to an 18-11 overall, 13-3 conference record on the way to their first Big West Championship in eight years and their first NCAA postseason appearance since 2010. Finishing in a three-way tie for first place, UCSB made a huge jump from its sixth-place finish in the year before Lantagne Welch's arrival. The team’s 13-3 conference record was the program’s best since 2004. Perhaps the most historic win UCSB has had in recent memory came when Lantagne Welch guided the Gauchos to a 3-2 upset victory at No. 5 Hawai’i (Oct. 12, 2013), snapping the Rainbow Wahine’s 41-match conference winning streak that dated back to 2008. It was also UCSB's first win over Hawai'i since 1994. Five players earned all-conference honors in 2013, including Ali Spindt, who was named the Big West Freshman of the Year. Spindt was also selected to the all-conference first team with Ali Barbeau, Leah Sully, and Katey Thompson, while Phoebe Grunt was voted to the All-Big West Honorable Mention and All-Freshman teams.
Lantagne Welch was hired in February 2013 to take over the reins of the Gauchos' women's volleyball program following the retirement of the legendary Kathy Gregory.
A native of Encinitas, Calif., Lantagne Welch had spent the previous 12 years at the University of Miami, their only head coach since restarting the women's volleyball program in 2001. During her time with the Hurricanes, Lantagne Welch compiled a record of 243-120 for a winning percentage of .669.
Lantagne Welch had a 2012 campaign that saw her squad go 25-6 with a program record 17 wins in ACC play, culminating in a trip to the NCAA Tournament. After the season, Lantagne Welch was named the ACC Coach of the Year and AVCA East Region Coach of the Year. It was the third time she was honored as a Coach of the Year by the AVCA (2008, 2002) and second time she received the ACC honor (2008). The 2012 NCAA tourney trip was the fourth consecutive and fifth overall for the Hurricanes during Lantagne Welch's tenure. Her five All-Region honorees were tied for the most from a single school nationwide.
Miami's deepest run in the NCAA tournament came in 2002, when Lantagne Welch reached the Sweet Sixteen in just her second season at the helm.
Despite restarting a program from scratch, Lantagne Welch recorded winning seasons in 10 of her 12 years on the bench at Miami, including six seasons with 20 or more wins. For her entire tenure, Lantagne Welch averaged just over 20 wins per season.
Lantagne Welch comes from a volleyball-oriented family. Her parents, Joe and JoAnn, owned a successful volleyball scouting service, while her sister, Jenelle, was an All-American at the University of Pittsburgh and has also coached at the Division-I level.
Lantagne Welch was also a highly successful player, finishing as the all-time leader in assists, digs, and matches played at the University of Maryland after an illustrious four-year career as a setter from 1990-1993. She was an All-ACC honoree three times, including First Team nods in her junior and senior seasons.
Her coaching career began at her alma mater in 1994, where she served one year as an assistant coach. She served as a graduate assistant at Ohio University in 1995 before moving to Texas A&M in 1997. Her three-year spell in College Station resulted in three trips to the NCAAs and an Elite Eight appearance in 1999.
Lantagne Welch and her husband, Wesley Paul Welch, were married in 2002 in Encinitas. They have two children - daughter Riley Jaye (born 2004) and son Ayden Fletcher (born 2007).