No stranger to volleyball in the Hampton Roads area, 2018 will mark Brandon Duvall's third season as head coach of the Hampton University women’s volleyball program. He took over a program looking to return to prominence after conference titles in 2013 and 2014.
In 2016, his team came within one-game of qualifying for the MEAC Tournament as they went 6-17 overall and 5-7 in the MEAC Northern Division. Freshman Micah Leavell earned All-Rookie Team honors and seven players were named to the All-Academic team.
Duvall came to Hampton after spending six years as the head coach at Norfolk State. His first first four seasons as head coach at Norfolk State coincided with the program’s best four-year stretch in its Div. I history. All three of Norfolk State’s winning seasons in its 18 years at the Div. I level came under Duvall, with 2012 being the most successful.
The Spartans won 14 matches in 2012, including nine in conference play, before defeating North Carolina Central in the quarterfinals of the MEAC Tournament for the program’s first tournament win since 1999. Norfolk State nearly advanced to the championship match that season, falling to Florida A&M in a five-set thriller.
With 13 wins in 2010, his first season, and 11 wins in 2013, Duvall holds the three winningest seasons in Norfolk State Div. I history. His teams finished above .500 in conference play in both of those seasons – going 5-3 in 2010 and 7-5 in 2013.
Duvall was named MEAC Coach of the Year in 2010. That award was the first major conference award for the program (Coach, Player or Rookie of the Year) since moving to D-I prior to the 1997 season.
In the 13 prior seasons in the MEAC, the program had never finished better than 3-5 in conference play. In addition, Norfolk State posted more overall wins (13) than any other year in the Div. I era, breaking the previous mark of 11 victories set in 1999.
That record, of course, lasted only two years until Duvall’s 2012 team topped it with 14 victories.
In 2010, NSU’s on-court performance was illustrated by the play of Charlotte Armstead, who was named to the All-MEAC second team and was one of several players to post stellar seasons for the Spartans. Along with Armstead breaking the single-season mark for kills in a season (which she again would top in 2012), Nicole Kessner set the single-season and career records for assists, marks later bested by Darcy Moore.
Despite injuries to the team’s starting setter, libero, middle blocker and two other reserve players that kept them out for most if not the entire season, the Spartans still managed to follow that up in 2011 with a 9-16 overall record and a 5-7 MEAC ledger in Norfolk State’s first year in the Northern Division.
Armstead earned Second Team All-MEAC honors for the second time in her career in 2012 and finished as Norfolk State’s all-time leader in kills, attacks, blocks, block assists and sets played. She set the single-season mark for kills, breaking her previous school record in the process, and along the way became the only player in school history ever to top 1,000 career kills.
Other records to fall in 2012 include single-match, season, and career records for digs (Noelle Eagles), and the single-season records for assists (Moore) and block assists (Goda Jankauskaite).
Duvall also spent the 2008 and 2009 seasons as an assistant coach with Norfolk State.
Duvall also served as an assistant coach at Div. III Virginia Wesleyan College in 2006, helping the Marlins go 19-9 and finish third in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Tournament.
From 2003-06, Duvall was the assistant boys volleyball coach at Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake, Va. He helped the Wildcats to the 2004 and 2005 Southeastern District regular-season titles. He also had assistant coach stints with the girl’s teams at Ocean Lakes High School (1998) and Tallwood High School (2002), and served as the girl’s head coach at Ocean Lakes in 1999.
Duvall also boasts an impressive resume as a club coach; in 2011, he led the Coastal Virginia U-16 team to the national title in a field of 175 teams at the 38th AAU Girls Junior National Championships in Orlando, Fla. His team went 14-0 during the four-day tournament, losing just one set.
Duvall’s team was the first Virginia squad to win an AAU national championship.
In 2014, Duvall coached the Coastal Virginia U-17 team to a ninth-place finish at the AAU Open Nationals. He has also assisted the nationally ranked girls’ U-18 team since 2003 and was the head coach of the U-15 girls’ team from 2006-07.
He also worked with the Tidewater Volleyball Club from 2001-03, assisting with the girls’ U-18 team and leading the U-15 team.
Duvall was the defensive specialist on the club team while attending Old Dominion. He continues to play in several indoor and outdoor competitions and participates in both men’s and co-ed matches at the open level.
Sonja Maksimovic is entering her fourth season as an assistant coach and second as full-time assistant with the Hampton University volleyball program, after playing on the team for four years, and winning back-to-back MEAC titles. She served as a graduate assistant in 2015 and 2016.
Maksimovic was a Third Team All-MEAC selection as a senior, averaging 2.38 kills and 2.68 points per set, ranking third on the team in both categories. She also had 36 total blocks on the team, joining a Lady Pirates defensive attack that averaged almost two blocks a set.
During the MEAC Tournament, Maksimovic had 11 digs in the semifinals against Coppin State to go along with six kills. In the quarterfinals against North Carolina Central, she had seven kills, hitting .294.
She had five double-doubles her senior campaign, including a season-best 17 kills and 16 digs against Coppin State. Maksimovic was a two-time MEAC All-Academic honoree, and her career high in kills came as a sophomore in 2012, when she tallied up 18 against Wofford.
Maksimovic was also a setter briefly in 2012, notching a career-high 51 assists at Norfolk State.
The 2012 season also saw Maksimovic rack up a career-best 21 digs against Radford, while her career-best hitting percentage of .643 (10 kills and one error in 14 total attacks) came as a freshman in 2011 against North Carolina Central.
She received her Bachelor’s degree in economics from Hampton in August of 2015.