Ben Duckworth came to McKendree University in the spring of 2013. Duckworth serves as an assistant coach for both the Bearcats’ men’s and women’s volleyball programs.
Duckworth has been instrumental in the development of both McKendree volleyball programs. He helped head coach Nickie Sanlin build the Bearcats' men's volleyball program from scratch. McKendree first took the court with an all-freshman roster in 2014 and proceeded to record eight victories in its inaugural campaign. The Bearcats then became full members of the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) in 2015, which is one of the top NCAA Division I-II leagues in the nation. McKendree responded by boosting its win total to 11 in its sophomore season, going 11-19 overall. The Bearcats grabbed their first-ever MIVA win at home on Feb. 28 with a four-set victory over IPFW, which was Duckworth's former collegiate program.
With the women's program, Duckworth was part of the Bearcats' steady transition into NCAA Division II membership which saw a breakout season in 2014. The Bearcats caught fire down the stretch and finished 11-7 in Great Lakes Valley Conference play. McKendree earned its first-ever GLVC Tournament berth and then knocked off two higher-seeded foes on its way to the league's championship contest. Although the Bearcats fell in five sets in the GLVC title match, the momentum built by the team was enough to give McKendree its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. Although the Bearcats were defeated by Truman State University in the NCAA Midwest Regional quarterfinals, the team closed the year with a 20-14 record, marking its first 20-win campaign since 2010.
Duckworth has spent three years working with both men's and women's program for USA Volleyball. Since 2006, he has coached in the St. Louis High Performance program, tutoring players ranging from 12 to 18 years old. On five different occasions, Duckworth has helped his High Performance teams to a top-25 finish in nationals, with the best coming in a ninth-place showing while coaching the 18U squad in 2011.
As a player, Duckworth spent three seasons as a member of the men’s volleyball program at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. He earned second-team All-Conference honors in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) after putting down more than 300 kills as a sophomore in 2009. Duckworth also collected 50 service aces that season, a mark that still stands in the top five on the Mastadons’ single-season list. Duckworth continues to compete in regional and national volleyball tournaments.
In high school, Duckworth starred at Oakville Senior High School in St. Louis, where he was a three-time All-Conference honoree. In addition, Duckworth was twice named as an All-Metro selection by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and earned the newspaper’s Player of the Year award following his senior season in 2006. Duckworth also spent three years playing in the St. Louis High Performance program.
Bob Vollmer joined the McKendree volleyball coaching staff in the fall of 2012. He assists with the varsity program and serves as the head coach for the Bearcats' junior varsity squad.
Vollmer, a native of Okawville, Ill., and graduate of Okawville High School, attended Kaskaskia College. He has played with numerous club teams along with selected pro volleyball tours. Vollmer was also a part of an AAU squad that placed second in the nation in the Adult National Division.
In addition to his experience at McKendree, Vollmer has served as a boys assistant coach at Althoff Catholic High School, and also as an assistant at Lindenwood University-Belleville.