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New Cardinal Mooney volleyball coach brings state title experience

Allan Knight has won state titles at Bishop Moore Catholic and Timber Creek High.

Allan Knight will take over the Cardinal Mooney High indoor volleyball program. Knight has won two FHSAA state titles in his coaching career, which has spanned more than 25 years.
Allan Knight will take over the Cardinal Mooney High indoor volleyball program. Knight has won two FHSAA state titles in his coaching career, which has spanned more than 25 years.
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When Allan Knight arrives in Sarasota to become the indoor volleyball coach at Cardinal Mooney High, he will have some adjustments to make.

Not because he'll be in a new city, but because he'll be in a city where he used to live, one that has changed a lot in his absence. 

Knight will bring heaps of experience to the Cougars program starting this fall. He will take over the program from Chad Davis, who stepped down from both the indoor and beach volleyball programs in March. Knight has been a volleyball coach for more than 25 years and has had plenty of success, winning state titles with Bishop Moore Catholic (2015) and Timber Creek High (2008). Knight most recently coached at Lake Brantley High, which finished 20-9 and reached the Class 7A regional finals in 2023. 

Before all of that, however, Knight was a volleyball player himself. After college, Knight moved to Sarasota for five years in the 1990s. 

"I spent every day (playing volleyball) on Siesta Key," Knight said. "I come from Utah and Colorado where you have to deal with snow for half the year. The idea of playing volleyball year-round, that was the vibe for me. What a great area. It's such a unique town, too. You have a good combination of people." 

While Knight will have to adjust to how much the area has grown since his '90s days on Siesta Key, there will be little adjustment in the gym. Knight said he is well aware of Mooney's recent success in indoor volleyball, which includes a Class 3A state title win in 2019 and perennial trips to at least the regional round of the postseason. While there is a bit of pressure to continue that success, Knight said, it's a positive pressure. 

"I think that is the sport in general," Knight said. "You are handling pressure, whether it is a big game or a big point, a big swing. It's the nature of the sport. I enjoy the pressure and I love the competition." 

Cardinal Mooney volleyball graduate Helena Hebda is one of two players the Cougars will be without in 2024, the other being graduate Sam Kotasek. Everyone else is scheduled to return, barring any transfers.
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Knight said that the biggest key to success as a coach, regardless of sport, is understanding athletes as individuals. One player might need a pat on the back when another needs words of encouragement, Knight said. Another might need to see some intensity from their coach to get properly hyped. Understanding these personal needs and goals allows a coach to get the most out of everyone, Knight said. 

Volleyball is not just a job to Knight. It is something that unites his family. His wife, Stephanie Feulner Knight, played volleyball in college and coaches youth volleyball; their daughter, Austin Knight, played for Lake Brantley before graduating this spring; and their son, Sawyer Knight, also plays on a boys club team. 

"We are dialed in as a family, and we are going to bring that same passion to the Sarasota community," Allan Knight said. 

Cardinal Mooney finished 21-8 and reached the Class 3A regional semifinals in 2023. Barring transfers, the Cougars could return all but two players from the 2023 team in 2024 — graduated seniors Helena Hebda, a setter, and Sam Kotasek, a middle hitter. Junior Riley Greene, a Long Island University commit, led the team with 284 kills, 77 blocks and 55 serving aces. Junior Katie Powers led the team with 397 digs. Sophomore Layla Larrick was second to Hebda (439) in assists with 384. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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