Bechard adds Files, Ebel to Kansas volleyball coaching staff
LAWRENCE, Kan. – As Kansas volleyball continues stake its claim on the national stage with six-straight finishes in the top-20 of the NCAA RPI and a brand-new facility in the works, KU’s two assistant coach openings drew national interest.
After a national search, head coach Ray Bechard announced Monday he has selected two successful coaches with local ties to fill those openings.
Kelly Files, assistant coach at Oklahoma, and Billy Ebel, associate head coach at Lipscomb, will join Bechard’s staff next week.
“We feel Kelly and Billy are a perfect fit for our program,” Bechard said. “They can work together, challenge each other, bring new ideas and create new opportunities for player development.”
Both are natives of the Kansas City area. Files attended Blue Springs South High School, and Ebel attended Bishop Miege High School.
“Their character is respected nationally and their energy is contagious,” Bechard said. “Both have track records as dynamic communicators who consistently develop positive relationships, which will create opportunities for us to continue to recruit at the highest level and, just as importantly, help develop our student-athletes every day. They will be shining representatives of our program, our university and our athletic department.”
Files comes to KU after 13 seasons at Oklahoma. She earned the inaugural AVCA National Assistant Coach of the Year award in 2009, and helped lead Oklahoma to eight NCAA Tournament appearances.
After a standout playing career at Southern Mississippi, Files began her coaching career at her alma mater as a graduate assistant in 2002 and an assistant coach in 2003. She followed Santiago Restrepo from Southern Miss to Oklahoma as an assistant in 2004.
“I always thought Kelly had such a great presence on the court,” Bechard said. “I know she will represent an ideal role model for our student-athletes. She’ll demand the very best of our players on and off the court because she has lived that herself as a former Division I student-athlete. Kelly will be an outstanding communicator and recruiter. We hope our players strive to be a lot like she is as they grow through their career here and into adulthood.”
Ebel dons the crimson and blue after five seasons at Lipscomb University, where he was elevated to associate head coach in 2016. Ebel cut his teeth in coaching as a volunteer assistant at UMKC under Bechard’s former KU assistant, Christi Posey. The Overland Park, Kansas, native has coaching experience with U.S. Women’s Junior National Teams, where he crossed paths with KU All-Americans Kelsie Payne and Ainise Havili, and rising senior Gabby Simpson. He played for four years at Ball State University, serving as team captain and earning all-conference honors his senior year.
“Billy’s infectious enthusiasm will serve our program very well,” Bechard said. “He is a great ambassador for volleyball. His hunger to learn and gain experience has made him an outstanding teacher in the gym. In addition to his time at Lipscomb and UMKC, he has played at the highest level of the men’s game, has been involved with USA Volleyball programs, and worked numerous summer camps — including ours at KU. He puts the athletes first — he’s most concerned about their development.
“It’s pretty cool that Kelly and Billy can get back to their roots where they grew up,” Bechard continued. “As we continue to build our brand on the national stage, I’m sure it gives them added incentive and pride to represent their roots.”
The positions on Bechard’s staff opened last month after former associate head coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn accepted the head coaching job at Texas A&M University, and former assistant coach Todd Chamberlain accepted a soon-to-be-announced coaching opportunity.
“Kansas volleyball is proud of Bird and Todd and what we were able to accomplish,” Bechard said. “Their time here was pretty congruent — Todd being here eight years and Bird seven. They added great value to our program and, in turn, our program enabled them to take the next step in their careers. It was a win-win situation for everyone and we wish them the best moving forward.”
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