Coaching Staff

Giovana Melo
Head Coach

Giovana Melo enters her sixth season as Director of Volleyball at CSU Bakersfield in fall of 2019. She came to Bakersfield before the start of the 2014 season after enjoying great success at Western Nebraska Community College. Aside from being Bakersfield's head indoor volleyball coach, Melo also oversees the Roadrunner beach volleyball program during the spring season.

In just five years at the helm of CSUB, Melo has led the indoor volleyball program to a pair of Western Athletic Conference Tournament titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Along the way, she has accumulated a record of 76-75 record (.503) including a 19-14 record in 2017. Melo has seen 11 student-athletes named to All-Conference teams while 20 have earned Academic All-Conference honors.

Melo guided the Roadrunners to the program’s first NCAA Division I Tournament appearance in her first season after CSUB took home the team’s first WAC Tournament title in 2014. The ‘Runners dropped just one set in three WAC Tournament matches. Melo's team was 16-15 on the year and played Stanford in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

In 2015, the Roadrunners finished second in the WAC with a 10-4 league record and advanced to the WAC Tournament finals where CSUB dropped a 3-0 decision to NM State. Two players, Luiza Martins and Kelsee Sawyer, earned First Team All-Conference honors while Carol Grasso was selected to the Second Team.

In her third season, Melo led the Roadrunners to a 15-14 record and a 10-4 mark in the WAC as CSUB advanced to the WAC Tournament semifinals. Melo coached Carol Grasso to earn the program’s first WAC Player of the Year honor. Sydney Haynes was also named Second Team All-Conference under Melo's watch in 2016.

The 2017 season featured Melo's second WAC Tournament title and second trip to the NCAA Tournament, where the `Runners again faced Stanford in the first round. Along the way, CSUB posted a 19-14 record (9-5 WAC), its best result in Melo's Bakersfield tenure. Two `Runners, Sydney Haynes and Haylee Roberts, were named Second Team All-Conference.

The `Runners got hot in the middle of the 2018 campaign, putting together a seven-game overall win streak as well as an eight-game home win streak. Although it finished with a 14-16 record, Melo’s squad was a defensive force at the net with Brooke Boiseau and Mattison DeGarmo ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in CSUB’s Division I single-season records for total blocks.

Melo was wildly successful as a head coach in six years at Western Nebraska Community College where her teams reached five NJCAA Division I final fours and won the 2010 NJCAA national championship. Her teams won six Region IX championships while posting a career record of 262-20.

Melo earned an impressive list of accolades while at Western Nebraska. She was named Region IX Coach of the Year five times, District J Coach of the Year six times, American Volleyball Coaches Association Two-Year College West Region Coach of the Year four times along with being named to the AVCA ’30 under 30’ Award list three times. She was also named Omaha World Herald Midland Coach of the Year in 2011.

An outstanding recruiter with international ties, six current or former Roadrunners, Amanda Schoene, Megan Johnson, Danika Youngblood and Luzia Martins, Fernanda Goncalves and Debora Araujo played for Melo at Western Nebraska. Araujo and Goncalves were members of the 2010 National Championship team at WNCC before earning first team All-Conference honors at CSUB in 2013. Martins was selected second team All-Conference and was named to the All-WAC Tournament team in 2014.

Melo began her collegiate playing career at Western Nebraska before transferring to Arizona State. Melo was a two-year starter at setter for the Sun Devils and served as a team captain as a senior. Melo would begin her coaching career at Arizona State, serving as an assistant coach for three years.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Arizona State and her Master’s Degree of Higher and Post-Secondary Education at ASU.

A native of Brazil, Melo lives in Bakersfield with her wife, Trisha Lacey. The couple had a daughter, Eva, in 2018.

 

Cesar Benatti
Assistant Coach / Head Beach Volleyball Coach

Cesar Benatti enters his sixth season at CSU Bakersfield in fall of 2019. He was named head beach volleyball coach at CSUB on June 29, 2016 with his fourth season at the helm of the Roadrunner beach squad coming in the spring of 2020.

In just five years at CSUB, Benatti has helped lead the indoor volleyball program to a pair of Western Athletic Conference Tournament titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances (2014 and 2017).

Benatti played professional volleyball in Brazil until 2000, when he started as an assistant coach in Esporte Clube Pinheiros. In Pinheiros, Benatti was a two time state champion and a two time Metropolitan area champion. From 2002-2009, Benatti was the conditioning and assistant coach at Club Athlético Paulistano. In his time with Athlético Paulistano, Benatti’s 17 and under team was Metropolitan champions in 2006 and state champions in 2007.

Benatti also worked as head coach at three universities in Brazil; FMU from 2002-06, University Mackenzie from 2006-09,where he won two state championships, and Casper Líbero from 2012-14, winning several local tournaments.

From 2009-11, Benatti worked with CSU Bakersfield director of volleyball Giovana Melo at Western Nebraska Community College. Benatti was part of the Western Nebraska staff that led the program to three Region IX Championships and 2010 NJCAA Division I National Championship.

Benatti returned to Brazil in 2012, becoming the head coach at one of the main volleyball programs in the State of São Paulo, Ibirapuera, which holds more than 80 Volleyball athletes training and competing for the club, in four ages/gender categories.

 

Mackenzie Westphal
Assistant Coach

Mackenzie Westphal enters her sixth season with the CSU Bakersfield volleyball program in fall of 2019. As an assistant coach for the Roadrunner volleyball programs, Westphal also serves as the recruiting coordinator.

Westphal joined the CSUB program in 2014 as the volunteer assistant and she is in her fifth season an assistant coach for the `Runner indoor program. She also served as a member of the CSUB beach volleyball program's coaching staff from 2014-19.

In just five years at CSUB, Westphal has helped lead the indoor volleyball program to a pair of Western Athletic Conference Tournament titles and two NCAA Tournament appearances (2014 and 2017).

Westphal played two years at Western Nebraska Community College under current Bakersfield director of volleyball Giovana Melo. She then played one year at Millsaps College (Miss.) before transferring to University of Northern Colorado where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

 

Stevi Robinson
Director of Volleyball Operations/Assistant Beach Coach

Stevi Robinson joined the CSU Bakersfield volleyball program in summer of 2019. She serves as the Director of Volleyball Operations for the Roadrunner indoor squad and is the beach volleyball team’s assistant coach.

Robinson came to Bakersfield after a season as an assistant coach for the Gonzaga volleyball team. While fulfilling her assistant coaching duties, Robinson also handled the Zags’ Director of Operations responsibilities. Focusing on the Gonzaga liberos and primary passers, she helped Tiyana Hallums become the program’s all-time digs leader.

Prior to her stop in Spokane, Robinson served two seasons as an assistant coach for The Citadel. Once again wearing many hats, Robinson took on Director of Operations duties despite being the program’s only assistant coach. Her coaching helped the Bulldogs achieve new heights, twice reaching their second-highest win total in the last 10 seasons.

During Robinson’s time in Charleston, the Bulldogs saw several program firsts including the first-ever win over Mercer and the first-ever Southern Conference All-Conference selections: Moriah Smith (2016 All-SoCon Second Team) and Sharlissa De Jesus (2017 SoCon All-Freshman Team). The Citadel also saw several individual records fall during Robison’s tenure. Smith set the all-time record for career kills while sophomore Sarah Dobrich set the single-season blocking record. Robinson also helped the Bulldogs excel in the classroom as eight student-athletes were SoCon Academic Honor Roll selections in 2017.

A former volleyball player, Robinson was a member of the United State Women’s National Team from 2014-16 and was the starting libero for Germany’s Allianz MTV Stuttgart in 2015. She also spent time on the USA Beach U26 Elite 8 Training Team in 2013 before heading overseas to compete in the World University Games in Kazan, Russia.

Robinson enjoyed a storied career with the Pepperdine University volleyball program. A two-time West Coast Conference Libero of the Year, Robinson finished as the Waves’ all-time digs leader with 1,750 playing in 111 matches and more than 400 sets. She earned All-WCC honorable mention honors for four consecutive indoor seasons and earned All-Tournament recognition at the NCAA’s 2011 Honolulu Regional.

In sand volleyball, Robinson helped Pepperdine capture the AVCA Sand Team National Championship after posting a 2-0 record in her matches. After graduating in 2012 with her bachelor’s degree, Robinson pursued her master’s at USC and completed her athletic eligibility with the Trojans’ sand volleyball team. During her time at USC, Robinson was the AVCA Pairs Sand National Champion and an AVCA All-American.