Paul Leon enters his fifth year at the helm of the Slug program.
Under Leon’s direction, the Banana Slugs have an overall record of 79-39 (.669). UCSC finished 2017 ranked ninth in the nation after spending four weeks at top three in the polls. The Slugs ranked among the nation’s top 15 in aces/set, blocks/set, hitting percentage and top 5 in set assists. Junior Lake Merchen earned first-team AVCA All-America honors and senior captain Jake Howard was selected as second-team AVCA All-America honors for the Slugs.
In 2018, UCSC set a program record for wins going 26-10. In 2019, the Banana Slugs were National Runners-up after reaching the NCAA Tournament final for the first time. Leon also became the winningest coach in school history with the win over Fontbonne in the NCAA Quarterfinals.
Prior to his appointment at UC Santa Cruz, Leon was involved with UCSC’s program for 5 years as a student-athlete, volunteer coach and assistant coach. Paul lettered two seasons as a setter and led the Slugs to a CVC conference championship, and a NCAA bid in the spring of 2012. Paul also managed to become first-team All CVC, UCSC team MVP and second-team AVCA All-American during his play. As a team captain senior in ’12, he started 19 matches as the Slugs rolled to a 17-7 record and lost in the semi-finals to Carthage College for the Division III title. In the semi-final against the Red Men, Leon delivered 51 assists with 13 digs. In his two-year UCSC career, Leon delivered 906 assists, then the fifth-highest in program history. Paul was a part of three NCAA men’s volleyball tournament teams (2012-player; 2013-asst. coach; 2015-asst. coach). After earning his undergraduate degree in Marine Biology from UCSC in 2013, Leon worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium — before being elevated to a full-time position in the fall of 2016. Paul served two seasons (2013-2014) as a volunteer coach and 2015 as the assistant coach.
Before transferring to UCSC, Paul played junior college ball for the Orange Coast College Pirates in Costa Mesa, CA (2008-2010). While a Pirate, Paul captained his 2010 team to the C.C.C. state finals while earning the honors of second team Calif. All-State and OCC’s “Male Student-Athlete-of-the-Year”. Leon also led a successful club career winning bronze medals in Open Division 16&U and 18&U Junior Olympics with Orange Coast Volleyball Club (2006) and Balboa Bay Volleyball Club (2008).