Amherst, N.Y. - Daemen College Director of Athletics Bridget Niland announced today that Stephanie Albano has been promoted to head coach of the Wildcats' NCAA Division II women's volleyball program. The promotion comes after Albano spent the 2015 season here as the associate head coach, and this will be her first opportunity as a collegiate head coach after several stops on the circuit as an assistant. She becomes the eighth head coach in team history and replaces Bob Maxwell whom she assisted in leading the program to a remarkable turn-around last fall in Maxwell's lone season on the sidelines.
"I want to thank coach Maxwell for coming and providing the necessary leadership during a time of transition for the program. He provided structure and organization to the program during our inaugural year of NCAA Division II competition," Niland said. "It is evident that coach Albano is ready to tackle the rigors of leading our program to new levels of success. We're looking forward to the team's 2016 season and all that lies ahead with coach Albano at the helm."
Albano originally came to Daemen from the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) where she served as an assistant on coach Reed Sunahara's staff in 2014. In her one season on the staff at UB, Albano helped the team to a 17-15 overall record and the program's first appearance at the Mid-American Conference Tournament since 2010. She briefly served as the program's interim head coach when Sunahara accepted the head coaching position at West Virginia University in the spring of 2015.
Albano entered the coaching field as an assistant coach at Canisius College, working for former Golden Griffins' coach Cathy Hummel from 2009-10, and later was the associate head coach at Medaille College from 2012-14. While at
Medaille, Albano helped the Mavericks to the program's first-ever Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship and an appearance in the NCAA Division III National Championship tournament.
A native of Lancaster, N.Y., Albano is a big name in local volleyball circles. The 2004 Gatorade N.Y. State Player of the Year led Lancaster High School to the N.Y. State Public High School Athletic Association Class AA championship that season. She went on to play collegiately at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where she helped the Tar Heels to a pair of Atlantic Coast Conference championships over the course of her career which spanned from 2005-09.
"I would like to thank Bridget Niland for this incredible opportunity. I am excited to take the lead and build upon the success we had last season. I look forward to developing our student-athletes on and off the court," Albano said. "I'd also like to thank Bob maxwell for his steady leadership throughout the past year. The experience I gained working with him has prepared me for this next step of my coaching career."
Last fall, Albano helped guide the Wildcats to a 12-17 record which represented a dramatic increase in production and competitiveness after the team went just 2-27 in 2014. Last year's win total included a 7-9 mark in East Coast Conference play, a record which placed the team in a tie for fifth place in the league standings, just outside of contention for a conference tournament berth which go to the top four teams in the league. The Wildcats were in the driver's seat after going 7-3 over their first 10 league games before faltering with six straight losses down the stretch, aided in part by injuries to several starters. Losing just two seniors to graduation, the Wildcats are set to return players responsible for 80-percent of their kills, 99-percent of their assists, 97-percent of their service aces and 96-percent of their digs from last season.
In addition to her coaching responsibilities, Albano will continue in her role as the Athletic Department's Senior Woman Administrator, a position she's held since March of this year. In that NCAA-mandated position, Albano encourages and promotes a variety of issues related to the part collegiate athletics plays in the lives of Daemen's female student-athletes, and provides oversight into the College's plan for gender equity among intercollegiate athletics programs.
Provided by the Daemen Sports Information Department.