Sac State alumna Courtney Hornsby returns as assistant volleyball coach

“It’s been one of the biggest blessings to come back”

Interim+assistant+volleyball+coach+Courtney+Hornsby+after+a+home+game+against+Eastern+Washington+at+the+the+Nest+on+Saturday%2C+March+6%2C+2021.+As+a+Sac+State+senior%2C+Hornsby+was+a+second+team+All-Big+Sky+selection+while+leading+the+conference+with+a+.369+hitting+percentage.%0A

Blynn Beltran

Interim assistant volleyball coach Courtney Hornsby after a home game against Eastern Washington at the the Nest on Saturday, March 6, 2021. As a Sac State senior, Hornsby was a second team All-Big Sky selection while leading the conference with a .369 hitting percentage.

Giana Seltzer

It was a few days after Christmas when Sacramento State volleyball alumna Courtney Hornsby received a text from head coach Ruben Volta, who asked her to step in as assistant coach for the 2021 volleyball season. 

“I was with my husband’s family and Ruben texted me and was like, ‘Can I call you,’ and I said ‘Yeah, let’s Facetime,’” Hornsby said. “He Facetimed me and that’s when he told me practice starts in a couple days, [and asked] ‘Are you ready to go,’ and I said ‘Yes.’” 

Sarah Chlebana, who is an assistant coach for the team, had left on maternity leave and Volta quickly needed to find another coach to fill Chlebana’s position. 

It had been four years and a name change since Hornsby (who’s maiden name is Dietrich) and Volta shared the court, but her journey with volleyball wasn’t over yet. Volta said her knowledge and positive energy would serve as an asset to the team.

“Knowing her character and how hard she works and just, her enthusiasm overall has been so natural for her,” Volta said. “I just knew from coaching her that she would be such a good fit.” 

Hornsby said she has had a love for sports since a young age. 

“I started playing basketball when I was three and I did tee-ball, soccer, softball and when I was in seventh grade, that’s when I got into volleyball,” Hornsby said. “I was a high school manager for two years when I was in middle school and I eventually did some club in high school.” 

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Sacramento State senior blockers Courtney Dietrich and Madeline Cannon block the ball from Lauren Jacobsen of Northern Arizona at the Hornets Nest on Oct. 27, 2016. Dietrich, now married with the last name Hornsby returned to Sac State to join the coaching staff in 2021. (Matthew Dyer)

During her junior year, Hornsby met Volta at a volleyball tournament as he was scouting for new recruits.

“I was at a club tournament in Reno and Ruben was at the convention center watching and I had no idea; I was trying to get my feet into the whole recruiting process,” Hornsby said. “After that weekend, I got an email from Ruben saying that he was interested and things just got spinning from there.”

She went on an unofficial visit to Sac State the following summer, and envisioned herself as a Hornet for the next four years. 

“I loved it, I got to meet a few of the girls, met Ruben again and the coaching staff,” Hornsby said. “I got to see the facilities and I just fell in love with it.”

During her freshman year at Sac State, Hornsby dominated on the court as a middle blocker. She started in 25 matches and finished the season with a .247 hitting percentage and a total of 1.40 kills per set and .80 blocks per set.

Hornsby’s momentum during her freshman year continued into her sophomore year. She beat her record from the previous season with .38 digs per set and 1.08 blocks per set.

Throughout her junior season, Hornsby started in 26 matches but she suffered from a knee injury towards the end of the season. Although Hornsby was unable to play in the last seven matches, she refused to let that be the end of her volleyball career. 

She returned for her senior season and started in all 32 matches and finished the season with 1.50 kills per set, .76 blocks per set and a .369 hitting percentage that ranked her as third best in Sac State history.

Hornsby graduated from Sac State in 2017 with a degree in child development and later received her masters in teaching. Although teaching is her career plan, she said coaching was always something she was interested in.

I never expected to be coaching at the collegiate level and especially at the school I played at, so it has been one of the biggest blessings.”

— Courtney Hornsby

“I coached club volleyball a little bit two years ago, I coached middle school basketball and I coached a little bit of beach [volleyball],” Hornsby said. “I knew it was always something that I wanted to do, I just didn’t expect it to be so soon.”

After receiving her masters, Hornsby left Sacramento and began traveling with her husband, Nick Hornsby, who is also a Sac State alumnus and has been playing professional basketball overseas.

“We’re overseas for nine months and then we come back in the summertime and then we get some time to work out and we visit our family and friends, so I’m not currently teaching right now,” Hornsby said.

Although Nick is living in Israel continuing his basketball career, Hornsby said that he was incredibly supportive of her to stay at home in Sacramento and coach for the season. 

“I talked to my husband because we knew that he was still trying to go overseas and play, and we obviously like to be together,” Hornsby said. “But he was very, very supportive of me taking this job and to hear that was wonderful.” 

Hornsby said she appreciates the opportunity to come back and coach alongside the people  that coached her.

“Ruben was my head coach for all four years, and then Sarah was my coach for two years, and then Ed Jackson was my coach for two years,” Hornby said. “So to come back and coach with them has been amazing.”

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Sacramento State senior midblocker Courtney Dietrich spikes the ball passed Brittni Dorsey of Northern Arizona at the Nest on Oct. 27, 2016. Dietrich now with the last name Hornsby married former Sac State basketball player Nick Hornsby. (Matthew Dyer)

Volta said he is excited to have Hornsby back on the court and coaching alongside him.

“She was, as a player, one of the most hardworking and enthusiastic players that came into practice everyday,” Volta said. “She’s not afraid to come in and ask questions and helps with the players, so it’s been a lot of fun having her.”

Senior libero and defensive specialist Paige Swinney was a former teammate of Hornsby in 2017 and said that having a great leader and a knowledgeable coach like Hornsby has helped the team’s dynamic.

“She’s been very involved and my freshman year, she was a captain and she was a big leader for us,” Swinney said. “I think that’s transferred over into her coaching and we can trust her with anything.” 

Hornsby said she was aware of the work that the coaches put in when she was a player, but she has gained new insight from being in the coach’s position. 

“I have a better understanding of how much they do to give the girls a better opportunity to play,” Hornsby said. “It’s made me very humble knowing the opportunity that I had here at Sac State and everything they did to give me the opportunity to play.”

Hornsby said she would have never known that her journey would come back into full circle from being a player at Sac State to coaching.

“I never expected to be coaching at the collegiate level and especially at the school I played at, so it has been one of the biggest blessings,” Hornsby said.