A new era begins for volleyball
Aug 23, 2013
Stony Brook, N.Y. - With first-year head coach Coley Pawlikowski at the helm, a new chapter is set to start for Stony Brook volleyball in 2013. Pawlikowski will look to guide the Seawolves back to the America East Championship, which they missed in 2012, and to their first conference crown. SB returns 10 letterwinners and five starters from last year's squad and welcomes three newcomers.
Meet the new boss
A rising star in the collegiate volleyball coaching ranks, Pawlikowski was hired in January after spending a year as the top assistant at the University of Wisconsin and is a three-time recipient of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Thirty Under 30 Award.
A tenacious recruiter, Pawlikowski assisted in the continued recruitment and commitment of the No. 1 recruit in the nation as ranked by PrepVolleyball.com for the Badgers' 2013 season. She was also responsible for seeking out and signing a 2013 Under Armour High School All-American, one of three high school All-Americans UW added for 2013. Pawlikowski served as the defensive position coach at Wisconsin, helping the Badgers lead the Big Ten in digs per set as a team and boast the individual digs champion.
Pawlikowski previously worked as the top assistant coach for her alma mater, Northern Illinois, from 2009-12, where she helped guide the Huskies to a 2011 Mid-American Conference regular season title and an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
She started her coaching career as a head coach at the Div. III level at North Park University in Chicago, turning a six-win team into a 19-win program in her third and final season on her way to her first AVCA Thirty Under 30 award.
SB returns 10 student-athletes from last year's squad, including a multi-dimensional player in Melissa Rigo. As a freshman, Rigo posted one of the most dominant seasons in program history en route to being tabbed first-team all-conference and America East Rookie of the Year. The outside hitter paced the league and all freshmen nationally in kills per set (4.52) and points per set (5.05). She posted at least 10 kills in every match and notched 20 or more kills nine times. On Nov. 11, 2012 against Binghamton, Rigo became the first Seawolf since 2007 to register 30 kills in a match. She also finished third on the squad in digs (241) and blocks (37).
Rigo played in the Bring it Promotions European Global Challenge this summer, where she was named to the all-tournament squad.
"I think Europe really helped Rigo," Pawlikowski said. "She is having a great preseason. She's understanding the importance of getting stronger and is learning to dig a little bit deeper and hold herself to a higher standard, which is really good."
Lo Hathaway will return as a full-time starting libero after missing much of last year due to a medical issue and will also serve as Stony Brook's captain. Hathaway, who joined Rigo overseas this summer in the European Global Challenge, was an AE All-Rookie selection during her freshman year in 2011 after leading the Seawolves with 446 digs and ranking fourth in the conference with 4.26 per set.
"Lo always gives 100 percent in everything she does," Pawlikowski said of the redshirt sophomore. "She has a heart that doesn't stop."
Hailee Herc, now a senior, is also a capable libero who paced the team in digs and digs per set with 333 and 3.40, respectively.
The 6-0 Taylor Gillie, a junior who was a spark plug off the bench at the end of last season, has impressed during the preseason and will contribute as a middle blocker. Sophomore Stephanie McFadden, a 6-2 middle blocker, will also provide height and depth in the middle, while her classmate, the 6-0 Shelby Tietjen, will do so on the right side. McFadden, who played in all but four sets during her rookie campaign, finished second on the team in blocks with 57 and fourth in kills with 134. Tietjen competed in all 25 matches and was fourth on the team with 116 kills.
Kaitlin Costello, a 5-10 senior from Webster, N.Y., is also expected to work her way into the lineup this season. Costello was an America East All-Rookie selection as a freshman and can play both on both the outside and right side.
After a solid offseason, Hannah Dolan is poised to play a major role for the Seawolves at the setter spot. Sophomore setter Nicole Vogel, who ranked fifth in the conference and first on the team with 875 assists last season, returns as well. A 2012 America East All-Rookie honoree, Vogel also chipped in 225 digs.
Meet the Newcomers
Kathy Fletcher, Cailyn Hart and Allison Zelnick join the Seawolves in 2013. A redshirt sophomore, the 5-11 Fletcher comes to Stony Brook from Ashland University in Ohio. The dynamic athlete is an outside hitter who can also play at the middle blocker or right side hitter spot. Fletcher led the Eagles in kills and garnered all-conference honorable mention honors during her freshman season at Ashland.
"Kathy is from Illinois, so she knew Dan and me beforehand and a bit about what our expectations are," Pawlikowski said. "Now she's just really learning to push at this level."
"We're asking Kathy to be a versatile player for us. We're asking her to play two positions, maybe even three sometimes, and she's carrying that workload well."
Cailyn Hart is a true freshman from Webster, N.Y., who will serve as a defensive specialist. As a sophomore at Webster Schroeder High School, she helped lead the team to an appearance in the state championship and a 16-2 mark before nabbing All-Greater Rochester honorable mention accolades during her senior season.
"Cailyn is doing a really good job of just learning the college game," Pawlikowski commented. "She was solid at the club level, and now everything is just bigger, faster and higher."
"Cailyn really picking up on our concepts. She's hard on herself, wants to make changes right away and is aware of what her body is doing."
Allison Zelnick joins the squad as a redshirt junior after spending her true-freshman and sophomore seasons on the Seawolves' swimming and diving team. The 6-1 Zelnick is listed as a right side hitter and is already proving to be a leader both on and off the court.
"Allison is new to our team and our sport," Pawlikowski said. "We talked to her about being good in her role, and right now that is just to be a really good worker on our team."
"She's really strong in the weight room and has been a leader for the team there."
Stony Brook has lost swing hitter Greta Strenger to graduation. Strenger appeared in all 25 matches and was third on the team in kills with 134 and fourth in digs with 233. A true student-athlete, Strenger was Co-President of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, a member of the America East All-Academic team and a finalist for the 2012-13 America East Woman of the Year award.
Coley Pawlikowski, Dan Pawlikowski, Lo Hathaway and Melissa Rigo took part in the Bring It Promotions Global Challenge. The trip included a competitive four-day tournament against some of the top young talent in Europe, friendly matches, practices and an opportunity to sightsee in Europe.
Coley and Dan Pawlikowski served as assistant coaches for the U.S. junior national training team, while Rigo played for BIP-USA and Hathaway competed with BIP-Southeast.
Hathaway helped guide her squad to a second-place finish after defeating Coley and Dan Pawlikowski's team in the semifinal round, and Rigo was named to the all-tournament team. Coley Pawlikowski, Hathaway and Rigo discuss the trip in the video above.
The Seawolves begin their season with 16 straight road matches, with many of them a part of four road tournaments, and are slated to play nine home matches. SB kicks off the 2013 campaign against Sacred Heart Aug. 30 in the Crusader Classic at Holy Cross.
Stony Brook will face a Pac-12 squad in Colorado and an ACC foe in Syracuse on Sept. 7 during a four-team tournament hosted by the Orange.
"Those are really good teams that we need to see early on," Pawlikowski commented. "This is the nonconference schedule you can count on us to have in the future. I think it will help prepare us for conference play."
"I want our team to see different teams from all over the country who are a part of bigger conferences," Pawlikowski said. "These are teams we don't just want to play, we want to beat eventually."
After eight road matches, including two tournaments, SB will begin conference action at UMBC Sept. 27 and make its home debut Oct. 4 against New Hampshire before hosting UMass-Lowell Oct. 6. The Seawolves play last year's AE tournament champion and runner-up in Binghamton (Oct. 11) and Albany (Oct. 13), respectively, on the road before returning to Pritchard for conference matchups with Providence (Oct. 18) and Hartford (Oct. 20).
Stony Brook heads to New Jersey for a match with Seton Hall on Oct. 22 and will then begin a five-match homestand starting with UMBC on Oct. 25. SB will host Albany (Nov. 1), Binghamton (Nov. 3) and Sacred Heart (Nov. 5) and conclude regular-season conference play with four road matches, culminating with Providence on Nov. 17.
The top four teams in the league will play in the America East Championship at the highest-seed Nov. 22-24. Stony Brook wraps up its season with a home match against Yale on Nov. 26.
"We're just going to worry about ourselves a lot this year," Pawlikowski concluded. "Yes, we're going to watch film and scout, but if we take care of our side of the court, I think this will be a really good learning year for us."