A former U.S. National Team starter and 2000 Olympian, Johnson-Tagaloa has worked with the Husker setters for the past four seasons, helping the Husker program to a national championship in 2006, three Big 12 titles and a 124-10 record in that span – the best four-year stretch by the Husker volleyball program in the NCAA era.
Johnson-Tagaloa, whose last day at Nebraska will be on Feb. 28, said the opportunity to work out of her home so that she will have more time with her three children was the deciding factor in leaving the coaching ranks. This fall, her oldest son, Kaipo, will enter high school while Vai-Lin-Gabby begins kindergarten.
"When they talk about Nebraska volleyball, it truly is a family, and this decision was not an easy one by any means," Johnson-Tagaloa said. "I feel torn about leaving this place, but in the end, it was the right decision for my children."
Nebraska Head Coach John Cook appreciated the efforts of Johnson-Tagaloa in helping Nebraska enjoy one of the greatest runs in NCAA history, as Nebraska became just the seventh program to ever make back-to-back appearances in the NCAA title match. Johnson-Tagaloa had a role in overseeing the team's academic efforts, where NU had four CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and 26 academic All-Big 12 honorees, including eight first-team selections in 2006.
"Coach Johnson has been an integral part of a great run the past four years of Nebraska volleyball," Cook said. "We appreciate all of her contributions, not only in working with our setters, but her efforts in recruiting and managing our academics as well."
Her teachings were never more evident than during the 2006 season, when freshman Rachel Holloway became only the second freshman setter in NCAA history to guide a team to an NCAA title. A third-team All-American and National Freshman of the Year by Collegiate Volleyball Update, Holloway ran an offense that led the country in both kills and assists per game, while ranking second in hitting percentage.
Johnson-Tagaloa showed her coaching abilities in 2005, as the Huskers ran a 6-2 offense en route to a 33-2 record and an appearance in the national title match. Dani Busboom and Maggie Griffin guided an offense that hit .322, the second-highest hitting percentage in school history, and ranked in the top-10 nationally in hitting percentage (fourth), kills per game (17.12, fourth) and assists per game (15.72, eighth).
In 2004, Johnson-Tagaloa helped Dani Busboom earn AVCA All-Midwest Region honors, as Busboom ranked 24th nationally in assists with 13.1 per game. Her average was the best by a Husker since 1998. In her first year at Nebraska, Johnson-Tagaloa was essential to the development of two young setters in the Huskers' 6-2 offense, as the Huskers replaced three-time All-American Greichaly Cepero. With the help of Johnson-Tagaloa, Busboom and Michelle Lynch helped Nebraska to 28 wins and a regional semifinal appearance.
Johnson-Tagaloa, a former All-American at BYU who was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame last September, plans to remain active in the sport and will begin her new role as Director of Volleyball for American College Connection, a Recruiting Education Company, in June.
"This was my position prior to coming to Nebraska," Johnson-Tagaloa said. "I'm excited to return to this company because it allows me to help young ladies fulfill their dreams of receiving a great education and athletics opportunities in college like I was able to do."
Cook said he will conduct a nationwide search for Johnson-Tagaloa's replacement.
"The setting position has always been a great strength in our program, and our challenge will be finding a coach who will be able to continue the tradition we have enjoyed at the position," Cook said.