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Coaching Staff

Ari Smith
Assistant Coach / Recruiting Coordinator

Ari Smith is in her first season as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for GCU women's volleyball.

Smith served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the University of San Francisco for the 2015 season, where the Dons went 17-14, including a 13-match winning streak and tournament wins in the San Francisco Invitational, Utah State Invitational, St. John’s Kaiser Classic and San Francisco Challenge.

Prior to San Francisco, Smith was the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Clemson. In her lone season with the Tigers, Smith helped guide the squad to an 18-13 overall record and assisted in the signings of five women to the ACC mainstay. Prior to her stint working with the Tigers, Smith served for a season at Wofford, working primarily with the defensive specialists while also serving as the team’s recruiting coordinator, travel coordinator and film specialist. That season, the Terriers advanced to the SoCon Tournament for the first time in seven seasons.

Smith worked as a graduate assistant at North Alabama in 2011 and 2012, where she mentored the outside hitters. Smith also played two seasons at North Alabama, earning a degree in communications and claiming an All-Gulf South Conference nod as a senior. North Alabama went to the NCAA Division II Tournament in both of her seasons competing for the Lions.

Prior to closing her collegiate playing career at North Alabama, Smith helped lead Kishwaukee College (Ill.) to its third consecutive NJCAA Division II National Championship. She was team captain and All-Arrowhead Conference selection during the championship season, which culminated not only in the title but also with a jaw-dropping overall record of 56-3.

Rachel Ferguson
Director of Volleyball Operations

Rachel Ferguson is in her first season as Director of Volleyball Opersations for the Grand Canyon women's volleyball team.

Ferguson joined the Lopes from North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C., where she served as the Assistant Volleyball Coach during the fall 2015 season. In her role there, Ferguson assisted with Data Volley game stats and coached the Eagles’ setters.

Ferguson served as an assistant varsity coach and head junior varsity coach for Dubuque in 2013 and 2014. Prior to that, Ferguson was a four-year letter winner at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio. She totaled 2,551 assists from the setter position and was instrumental in leading the Student Princes to three Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) championships, one OAC Tournament Championship and four consecutive NCAA Division III Tournament appearances with a career record of 111-35. She was a three-time floor captain and a team captain her senior season.

Ferguson graduated from Heidelberg with a Bachelor of Arts degree in media communications in 2013 and completed her Master of Business Administration at the University of Dubuque in 2015.

Emily Witsaman
Assistant Coach

Emily Witsaman was named GCU women’s volleyball assistant coach in January of 2018. 
Witsaman comes to GCU from Upper Iowa, where she helped direct the Peacocks to a 21-9 mark.  Before her time at UIU, she spent two seasons as a graduate assistant with the volleyball program at Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio.
The Berg went 50-16 over Witsaman’s tenure and notched a 17-1 record in the OAC reaching the NCAA Regional Tournament twice and claiming the OAC Regular Season and Tournament Championship in 2015.
Prior to her successful run with the Heidelberg coaching staff, Witsaman was a four-year letter winner for the Retrievers of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, an NCAA Division I institution and a member of the America East Conference. As a senior, she was named to the America East All-Conference first team as a middle blocker after finishing the season with the second best hitting percentage in the conference (.295) and leading the team to a runner-up finish in the America East Tournament. As a junior, Witsaman led the conference in blocks and closed out her career with the Retrievers ranked sixth in program history in block assists and tenth in total blocks. She also kept busy off the court serving on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, or SAAC, Executive Board and also earned a spot on the America East Commissioner’s Honor Roll as a senior.
A native of Medina, Ohio, Witsaman graduated from Medina High School before attending UMBC. She completed her Master's degree in business administration from Heidelberg.  She is also a graduate of the NCAA Women's Coaches Academy Class 43.