In his 29 seasons as head coach of the UC Santa Barbara men's volleyball team Ken Preston has created one of the most successful athletic programs at the institution.
During its 37-year history, the UCSB men's volleyball program has posted 29 seasons with a winning percentage of .500 or better and 21 of those have come during Preston's tenure. Winning has always been second nature at UCSB and Preston has produced nine 20-win seasons to prove it. Overall, he has led the Gauchos to 19 winning seasons and UCSB has qualified for postseason play 21 times under Preston.
Preston enters his 30th season as UCSB's head coach with an overall record of 506-364, good for a winning percentage of .582.
The Gauchos posted another solid season in 2007, finishing with an overall record of 20-12 and a 14-8 mark in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) play. It was the first time since 1989 that UCSB concluded with 20 or more wins and the first time since 1996 that the Gauchos racked up 14 league victories. In fact, the 14 conference wins tied the most ever by UCSB in MPSF matches. With a fourth-place regular season finish, UCSB qualified for the MPSF Tournament where it defeated UCLA, the 2006 national champion, in the quarterfinals before falling to top-ranked Pepperdine in the semis. Two of Preston's players - middle blocker Theo Brunner and opposite hitter Evan Patak - were tabbed AVCA First Team All-Americans. The Gauchos finished the season ranked fifth in the nation and were touted as high as third during the year.
The 2007 campaign saw Preston reach a major milestone in his career. On March 3, the Gauchos swept IPFW in Fort Wayne, Ind., giving Preston the 500th victory of his illustrious stint at UCSB. In 1987, he recorded his 200th career win and in 2000 he collected victory number 400.
Preston began his UCSB career in 1979 and recorded an impressive 11 consecutive winning seasons before suffering back-to-back losing seasons in 1990 and 1991, the first consecutive losing marks in program history. Since then, Preston's squads have finished below .500 just six times.
Preston's most enjoyable season had to be 1988, a year that marked the end of his first decade at UCSB. He guided the Gauchos to their first Final Four appearance in 13 years. UCSB went up two games to none, but lost the national championship in five games to USC.
Despite the loss, Preston's 1988 squad accomplished what no other Gaucho team had been able to do - beat UCLA in the postseason. UCSB swept UCLA in the first round of the Western Regionals. Preston also led UCSB past the Bruins in both WIVA meetings that season, including a five-game win at Pauley Pavilion, which was another first.
Preston has produced 27 all-America selections and 47 All-MPSF honorees during his time at UCSB.
Before taking over at UCSB, Preston served as head coach for Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and Wright State in Dayton, Ohio. He was also the interim head coach for the Westmont College women's volleyball team for two years. He guided the Warriors to a fifth place finish at the NAIA National Tournament in 1990. Westmont posted a 50-18 mark during Preston's reign.
In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Preston has spent time coaching at the international level. He served as the Team Leader for the United States National Team at the World University Games held in Turkey during the summer of 2005. In the summer of 2000, Preston was an assistant coach on the U.S. Olympic Team in Sydney, Australia. He skippered the U.S. team at the 1985 World University Games in Kobe, Japan, and served as an assistant coach with the U.S. National Team when it toured Brazil in 1984. The previous year, Preston was the assistant coach at the Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela, and in 1982 he was an assistant at the World Championships in Argentina. He also held assistant posts for the U.S. squad at the 1979 World University Games in Mexico City and at the 1978 World Championships in Italy.
Preston is a graduate of nearby San Marcos High School, where he was a standout offensive guard for the infamous 1965 Royals. He earned his BA from UCSB and his MA at Cal Poly.
Preston and his wife, Beth, reside in Santa Barbara with their three daughters.