Dale Starr enters his sixth season as the head coach of the Robert Morris University volleyball team.
Starr brings a vast background in collegiate coaching to Robert Morris, having served as the head coach at McNeese State University from 2004 until he joined RMU in 2010. He was also the head coach at Division-II Mississippi University for Women from 1999 to 2002.
RMU's recent success is due in part to a dominant team blocking effort, an area which Starr completely overhauled in his first season with the program. In Starr's first five seasons with the Colonials, he continued the proud tradition of RMU volleyball. He led Robert Morris to its 16th-consecutive Northeast Conference Tournament, the longest active streak in the league. In the five seasons that Starr has been at the helm, the Colonials have posted a 56-20 mark in league play and have defeated every team in the conference at least three times.
This past season, Starr saw his team compile its best conference record during his tenure at 12-2. He led the Colonials to their first NEC Tournament title match since 2010 and had three student-athletes earn All-NEC accolades – a new high for his tenure. RMU paced the league in blocks, averaging 2.41 per set and 2.92 in conference matches. The Colonials also finished second in digs, opponent hitting percentage, and hitting percentage. In a four-set match at Sacred Heart, RMU broke the single-game program record for total blocks and block assists with 21.5 and 39, respectively.
In 2013, Starr guided a senior-less RMU team to their 15th-consecutive NEC Tournament berth, finishing the conference slate of the schedule with a record of 8-6. The Colonials led the conference in digs and Starr had a student-athlete make an All-NEC team for the fourth straight season. On Oct. 19, Starr earned his 200th career win with a three-set sweep of St. Francis (Pa.).
With a senior-heavy roster in 2012, Starr led the Colonials to their 14th-consecutive NEC Tournament behind the strength of 13 regular-season wins against NEC foes. Despite a slow start in early-season tournaments, Starr led RMU to a thrilling five-set victory over West Virginia, the first victory over a Big-XII team in program history. Two members of Starr’s 2012 squad would earn All-NEC honors for the second-consecutive season while one student-athlete would lead the NEC in blocks per match. Academically, the team won the conference’s Team GPA award for the second-straight academic year, as the mark of 3.65 doubled as the highest mark among all of RMU’s athletic programs.
The highlight of the 2011 season under Starr had to be the three-set sweep of crosstown-rival Pittsburgh. The win was the first victory over the Panthers in program history. Behind a 10-6 record in the NEC, the Colonials would earn a postseason berth for the 13th-consecutive time while two of Starr’s student-athletes would earn All-NEC accolades.
In his first season with Robert Morris, two of Starr's student-athletes claimed first team all-conference honors in 2010 and a total of four claimed weekly honors from the NEC. Some of the highlights for Starr's first season may have come off the court due to the Colonials' gaudy academic performances. Starr then guided his squad to a victory over then six-time defending NEC champion LIU-Brooklyn in the conference tournament semifinals. After eliminating the Blackbirds in a thrilling, five-set match, RMU then competed in its 13th league championship match, extending its own conference record.
His first coaching position at the collegiate level was as an assistant at the University of Tennessee at Martin from 1998 to 1999 before becoming the head coach at the Mississippi University for Women. Starr would become a Division-I assistant coach again in 2002 as he joined the staff at Boise State University for a season. In 2003, he would return to the University of Tennessee at Martin for a second stint as an assistant coach. His time there would be short-lived as Starr landed his first Division-I head coaching position at McNeese State University in 2004.
While at McNeese State, Starr recorded an overall record of 96-81 and a league record of 57-43 in the Southland Conference. During his tenure, he coached five teams to conference tournaments, with three of them making semifinal appearances. His teams also performed strongly on the academic spectrum with 19 players earning All-Southland Conference Academic honors. Additionally, his team was honored with a player on the Academic All-American Second Team in 2006, a first for the program.
He captured his first head coaching experience at the Mississippi University for Women, where he coached three First Team Academic All-Americans. He led his team to a third-place finish in the GSC West Division and a berth in the GSC Tournament for the first time since 1996. He finished with an overall record of 50-47 in three seasons.
Before beginning his collegiate debut, Starr worked as a head coach at Eagle Valley High School, Highland High School and Colorado Extreme Volleyball Club and also worked as a volunteer assistant for his alma mater, the University of Northern Colorado.