Transfers and Freshmen Add to Already Talented Group
All-Conference Picks Stepanovic, Brown Highlight Position
Junior Viera, Freshman Martinez Both Expected to See Playing Time
Owls to Hold Four Sessions
Owls Defeat Bethune-Cookman, UNF and USF
Nelson became the fifth head coach in FAU volleyball history after serving as an assistant at Florida Gulf Coast University four seasons. While at FGCU, Nelson helped the Eagles to a 63-43 overall record (46-17 Atlantic Sun Conference record) and the 2008 regular season A-Sun title. She also assisted head coach Dave Nichols in guiding FGCU to a winning record in its first season of sand volleyball in 2012.
One of the best setters in the storied history of the Brazilian National Team and named Brazil's best setter in 1997, Nelson helped FGCU setter Roberta Santos and outside hitter Ana Kokanvic, two of the best players in FGCU history, earn first team All-Atlantic Sun honors in their senior campaign. Additionally, libero Holly Youngquist was a two-time second-team All-Atlantic Sun selection under Nelson's charge. In four seasons, Nelson has helped coach seven All-Atlantic Sun selections (three first team), four conference Freshmen Team honorees, a unanimous A-Sun Freshman of the Year, an ESPN/CoSIDA Academic All-District 3 selection (Holly Youngquist; second team) and 27 A-Sun All-Academic selections.
In her first season at FAU, Nelson recorded her first career victory in a five-set win over Stetson. The Owls more than doubled their win total from the previous year, while in the process snapping a conference losing streak that had lasted almost two years. She also led the team to a victory over a Big East opponent (Villanova) at the Arizona State University Sheraton Invitational.
Nelson's second season was highlighted by a win over in-state rival UCF and the team making the conference tournament for the first time in seven years. In her third season in 2014, the program turned the corner, winning 18 matches, its highest win total since 2005. The team also won the season opening FAU Invitational and made the conference tournament for the second year in a row. Several Owls also achieved individual success, with Genesis Viera earning FAU Invitational MVP honors. Viera would also be named C-USA Setter of the Week later in the season. Katarina Stepanovic became the first Owl in almost eight years to earn a weekly conference award when she was named Defensive Player of the Week. At the end of the year, Stepanovic was named First Team All-C-USA while her classmate, junior middle blocker Brittney Brown made the Second Team.
The position at FGCU came after eight years as both a player and a coach at National American University in Rapid City, South Dakota. Nelson arrived at NAU in 2000 and earned second-team NAIA All-American honors as a freshman. She was National Player of the Year as both a sophomore and a senior and led NAU to a national championship as a junior. Nelson ended her career as a three-time All-American selection. She was named to the NAU coaching staff immediately following the conclusion of her playing career. While an assistant, NAU won four straight regional championships and the 2006 NAIA National Championship.
Nelson and her husband Ethan have a daughter, Bella.