Volleyball opens Pawlikowski era at Crusader Classic
Aug 29, 2013
Worcester, Mass. – The Stony Brook volleyball team will begin a new chapter in its 36-year history when it opens the 2013 season, the first under head coach Coley Pawlikowski, against Sacred Heart as part of the Crusader Classic hosted by Holy Cross Friday at 5 p.m. The Seawolves will play Holy Cross and Manhattan Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., respectively.
Stony Brook welcomes back 10 letterwinners and four starters from last year’s squad, including 2012 America East Rookie of the Year Melissa Rigo, while adding three newcomers to the fold. Rigo, an outside hitter, led the league and all freshman nationally in kills per set (4.52) and points per set (5.05) on her way to being the lone freshman to be named first-team all-conference.
Rigo continued her stellar play this summer in Europe, where she picked up All-Tournament honors while competing with Team USA during the Bring It Promotions Global Challenge.
Sophomore captain and starting libero Lo Hathaway joined Rigo overseas, playing for the BIP-Southeast squad that advanced to the tournament finals. Hathaway, a 2011 America East All-Rookie selection after leading the team in digs with 446 and ranking fourth in the conference with 4.26 digs per set, missed most of last season due to a medical issue but is poised to have a major impact on the team this year.
Kathy Fletcher, Cailyn Hart and Allison Zelnick will suit up for the Seawolves for the first time this season. Fletcher, a redshirt sophomore and transfer from Ashland University, is a versatile athlete who can play outside hitter, middle blocker and right side hitter. Hart is a true freshman and defensive specialist who is quickly adjusting to the college game, while Zelnick is a 6-1 right side hitter who was previously a member of the Stony Brook swimming and diving team.
Picked to finish fourth in the Northeast Conference, Sacred Heart is looking to rebound from an injury-plagued 10-20, 8-8 NEC 2012 season. The Pioneers return seven players from last year, including senior outside hitter Diana Mercado, who spent much of 2012 as a libero and led the team with 3.77 digs per set. Sacred Heart also adds 10 newcomers, the largest class in program history.
Scouting the Crusaders
Host-school Holy Cross was selected eighth out of nine schools in the 2013 Patriot League preseason poll after finishing with a 3-27, 2-12 mark last year. Sophomore outside/right side hitter Emily Oliver, who finished second on the team with 170 kills in 2012, returns to the Crusaders’ lineup this season.
Scouting the Jaspers
Preseason All-MAAC selection and 2012 MAAC Rookie of the Year, Sydney Volovski, headlines Manhattan’s returners. The sophomore outside hitter was second on the team in kills with 269 and second among MAAC freshman in kills per set and hitting percentage last year. The Jaspers finished 15-15 and 10-8 in league play on their way to a fifth-place finish in the MAAC last season and ranked fourth in the conference’s preseason poll. Manhattan will begin play in the Crusader Classic on Saturday as it opens its season Friday against America East’s newest member, UMass Lowell.
Series History vs. the Pioneers
The Seawolves are 8-0 all-time against Sacred Heart having most recently swept the Pioneers in 2002.
Series History vs. the Crusaders
Holy Cross and SB have squared off four times, with the Seawolves holding a 3-1 advantage in the series after claiming a 3-2 victory in 2009.
Series History vs. the Jaspers
Stony Brook last met Manhattan in 2009. The Seawolves downed the Jaspers, 3-0, to improve to 7-4 all-time against the instate-foe.
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.
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 head to Syracuse for matches with two power conference opponents in Colorado (Pac-12), Syracuse (ACC) and formidable foes in Oakland (Horizon League) and Rutgers (American Athletic Conference) Sept. 6-7.