In his 19 seasons as head coach of the Loyola Marymount women's volleyball program, Steve Stratos has maintained a high level of excellence throughout his program, both in the classroom and on the court. Having coached six All-Americans, as well as numerous Academic All-Conference selections, Stratos continues to maintain one of the top volleyball programs in the nation.
In 1996, Stratos became the first coach in West Coast Conference history to be tabbed Coach of the Year three straight seasons after leading the Lions to their third consecutive conference title. In addition, he earned AVCA District VIII Coach of the Year honors after directing the 1996 squad to a 26-3 mark, advancing to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen and a No. 9 final national ranking, the highest finish in program history.
His teams have averaged just under 20 wins a season and have made nine NCAA postseason appearances, including four consecutive in the NCAA Championships from 1994-97. Stratos' last postseason appearance, coming in 2005, capped a streak of three straight NCAA appearances from 2003-05.
Stratos has posted a career record of 372-195, for a .656 winning percentage, the highest in LMU volleyball history. That mark also ranks him 47th in the nation among active NCAA Division I head coaches. His 372 victories place him 48th among the same group of coaches. In West Coast Conference action, he owns a record of 173-93, for a .650 winning percentage. With 173 career conference victories, Stratos ranks second all-time among WCC coaches.
Stratos is currently a member of the AVCA Coaches Top-25 Poll Committee (since 1993), and is in his second and final year of his fourth stint on the Pacific Region Top-25 Ranking Committee. Stratos has also served on the All-District VIII Selection Committee for the All-Region Team on three occasions.
Winning has become a tradition for the LMU volleyball program. In a five-year span (1994-98), Stratos' teams combined for a string of 61-straight weeks being nationally ranked in the AVCA/USA Today Top-25 Poll.
Despite high expectations upon entering the 1998 season, the No. 25-ranked Lions were left out of the NCAA postseason tournament for the first time since 1993. They ended the 1998 regular season ranked No. 25 in the nation.
Using 1998 as a learning experience, Stratos and the Lions jumped back into the NCAA tournament in 1999, advancing to the second round, and were ranked as high as No. 22 in the AVCA rankings (September 28).
In 2000, Stratos and the Lions continued their pursuit of excellence by starting the season on a seven-match winning streak, which propelled them to a season-best No. 21 AVCA ranking (Sept. 4).
The 2002 season saw the Lions start with an 11-3 mark, which handed the program its 13th straight winning season under Stratos.
During Stratos' first season (1990), the Lions posted a 21-16 record and made a postseason appearance in the NIVC (National Invitational Volleyball Championship). In 1992, he led the team to its second NIVC appearance and a 22-13 record. The following year (1993), the Lions accumulated a 23-7 overall record and finished second in the WCC (11-3). For the first time in program history, LMU entered the nation's top-25, ranked No. 24 in the AVCA Coaches' Poll and No. 22 by Volleyball Monthly.
In 1994, the Lions garnered the first of three consecutive WCC Championships with a 19-10 overall mark and a 12-2 conference record, earning a NCAA tournament appearance.
Stratos led LMU to its second straight WCC title and NCAA tournament appearance in 1995 with a perfect 14-0 record, the first in school history. After their tremendous success in 1996, the Lions posted a 22-7 record the following year (1997) and again advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Under Stratos' guidance, the Lions won in the first round of the tournament with a 3-0 victory over Hawai'i.
Stratos and the Lions put up three straight NCAA appearances again from 2003 to 2005, advancing to the second round in 2003 before falling to eventual National Champion, USC.
The 2004 campaign saw Stratos reach the 300 career win milestone in front of the home crowd at Gersten Pavilion. Stratos has turned the Lions' home court into one of the toughest places for opponents to visit, with a lively student section and exciting home schedules year after year. The Lions have enjoyed a .718 winning percentage in Gersten Pavilion under Coach Stratos.
Success of the program has carried over into individual honors as well. Among the program's top athletes and graduates, Stratos coached Loyola Marymount's two AVCA All-America first-team honorees, Sarah Noriega (1994-97) and Sarah McFarland (1997-00). He has guided 15 All-West Region players, 58 All-Conference players, three WCC Freshmen of the Year and one Freshman All-American. In addition, Noriega went on to play for the U.S. National Team from 1998-03, serving as an Olympic Team member in 1998 and 2000. Following in Noriega's footsteps, Heather Hughes emerged as the second Lion to join the U.S. National Team, finding time on the squad since her graduation in 2007.
Stratos also coached Kelli Nerison (2000-2003) to one of the greatest breakthroughs in program history. After seeing brief playing time in a total of just 12 matches during the first two seasons of her career, Nerison went on to honorable mention All-American performances as a junior and senior. As a senior, Collegiate Volleyball Update named her one of the nation's top-five blockers.
Throughout the same period, his teams have succeeded in the classroom, producing 27 All-WCC Academic selections and six LMU Female Scholar-Athletes of the Year. Among these, Tracy Holman (1994-97) garnered the award twice as an LMU student-athlete, and was named WCC Scholar-Athlete of the Year at the completion of the 1997-98 academic year.
Stratos began his coaching career as an assistant coach for the boys' junior varsity basketball team at Torrance High School in 1976, and became an assistant coach for the varsity squad the following year. He assumed duties as head coach for the boys' volleyball team in the spring of 1978 and became head coach of the boys' varsity basketball team in 1981. He moved on to Woodbridge High School in Irvine, Calif., in 1983, where he served as head coach of the boys' volleyball team, as well as a boys' basketball assistant.
Concentrating on volleyball, he took over the reins of both the girls' and boys' volleyball programs in 1984. There, he led both programs into prominence during his tenure, taking each to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) playoffs. Under Stratos' leadership, the Woodbridge girls' program ranked among the nation's top-20 in each of his final four years.
In 1985, he was honored as Orange County's Boy's Volleyball Coach of the Year. He coached in the Orange County All-Star Game five times, with the boys' squad in 1986 and 1988, and the girls' team in 1987, 1989, and 1990. Aside from his coaching duties, Stratos taught advanced placement U.S. history at Woodbridge.
A 1970 graduate of Torrance High School, Stratos himself was an All-League selection in basketball. He later earned a bachelor of arts degree in social sciences, with an emphasis in U.S. history, and a minor in English from San Diego State in 1975.
He is a former president of the Orange County Volleyball Coaches Association and served on the CIF Volleyball Advisory Board for five years.