ABILENE – Abilene High School assistant volleyball coach Caroline Cleveland has been named the Lady Eagles’ new head coach, effective immediately, Abilene ISD Executive Director of Athletics Phil Blue announced at a Friday afternoon press conference at the One AISD Center.

Cleveland – a 2009 graduate of Abilene High School and one of the program’s most decorated players during her three seasons on the varsity – takes over from Devon Shepherd, who resigned shortly after the conclusion of the 2020 season. Cleveland joined the AHS staff in 2016 working for her head coach, DiDi Pierce, who was the Lady Eagles’ head coach for 24 seasons.

“As a former Abilene High volleyball player who has dedicated most of my life to volleyball, I am excited to be able to give back to my alma mater as the head coach of this program,” Cleveland said. “I have learned and grown so much as a coach over the last several years and I’m excited to lead the program that launched my career. I want to re-create the program culture and opportunities for my players that I enjoyed when I was a player here and give them the experience and joy of playing winning volleyball.”

Prior to joining the AHS staff, Cleveland was an assistant coach for two seasons at McMurry University under head coach Cammie Petree from 2014-16, helping the Warhawks to a combined record of 40-24 in those two campaigns. She also coached a local club team (Abilene Aces) and was a private coach during those two seasons.

“I am very happy to welcome Caroline Cleveland as the next head volleyball coach at Abilene High School,” Blue said. “Caroline brings enthusiasm and experience, not only as a high-caliber collegiate player, but also as an experienced coach. Her vision for the program is what set her apart and she will be a great role model for student-athletes both on and off the court.”

As a member of the Lady Eagles’ program, Cleveland a three-year letterwinner (2006-08), helping them reach the Class 5A state playoffs all three seasons. As a senior in 2008, she helped AHS to a No. 6 state ranking in Class 5A volleyball. She was the District 3-5A Player of the Year and an all-state selection as a senior, leading the Lady Eagles to the area round of the state playoffs. She posted 392 kills, 59 total blocks, 567 digs and 121 aces in 39 matches as a senior.

As a junior she was second team All-District 3-5A, finishing with 321 kills, 18 total blocks and 95 aces as Abilene High reached the Region I-5A semifinals. As a sophomore she helped the team to the area round of the state playoffs.

She went on to play at Angelo State in 2009 and 2010, helping the Rambelles to a semifinal appearance in the Lone Star Conference Post-Season Tournament, earning all-tournament honors as a freshman. She was also honorable mention all-conference in 2009. She transferred to McMurry after the 2010 season where she finished her career, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business and Marketing in 2014.