Tricia Melfy was named the new Head Coach of the Women’s Volleyball, last spring.
Before coming to ESU, Melfy spent two years as the Head Coach of the women’s volleyball program at Fort Lewis College in Colorado.
Director of Athletics, Dr. Gary Gray, is excited about his new hire.
“We always have a large number of people apply for our coaching positions, so we have to look beyond the Xs and Os and find a leader,” Gray said. “We always want someone who can recruit, preferably someone with a good track record of recruiting, winning and mentoring students through graduation.”
Melfy replaces Kevin Rodgers, who spent three seasons as Head Coach before her. Rodgers had a 66-31 record and led the Warriors to a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championship last season.
She has spent many years playing and coaching volleyball out west, but she is originally from New Jersey and wanted to coach volleyball closer to home.
“Philosophically, I align well with Division II and inspiring these young women to enjoy sport for something bigger than sport,” Melfy said. “ESU is a volleyball program that is up-and-coming. It has a great foundation, and I just thought it was a great opportunity.”
“The size was great,” she said. “The location was great, and the conference is awesome. I know that I fit well in this Division II model, so it was a no-brainer for me.”
Because of the global pandemic, Melfy was not able to visit the campus. So, the hiring process was done over Zoom.
“I think I am the first ever coach hired via Zoom,” she said. “I was not inside this building until July.”
Social media was instrumental in her hiring. She saw that ESU’s women’s basketball coach put out a video on social media.
“When the women’s volleyball team was in the conference championship match, her basketball team was all in a room and watching it on a screen and just celebrating. And to see that camaraderie was telling to me,” she said.
Melfy also appreciated that Dr. Nancy Greenawalt has been working here for over twenty years in a strong leadership position.
“She is our SWA [Senior Woman Administrator],” Melfy said. “I am very passionate about equality. I was looking to go somewhere where they valued women and valued student athletes equally.”
ESU has also invested in brand new locker rooms for its student athletes and rebranded its logo in recent years.
Moreover, the basketball and volleyball courts inside Koehler Fieldhouse have just been repainted.
So, Melfy was excited to see that ESU is investing in its student-athletes. All of that helped convince her that this was the right place for her to continue her coaching career.
“It’s more about showing our student athletes how much we appreciate them and respect them and value them,” she said. “The girls need that. They need to feel supported and taken care of by someone other than their Head Coach. So I am very excited for that.”
Melfy went to Arizona State University, an NCAA Division I school, as a student athlete. But, she prefers Division II as a head coach because in addition to coaching, she sees her job as developing her student athletes as young women.
“At DI, it’s all about whatever sport you play,” she said. “It’s like a job. But at Division II, volleyball is just one piece of their experience. Most athletes want the whole experience, and I like to give them that.”
Melfy went on to discuss her coaching philosophy as a defensive-minded coach.
“Never give up on the ball. Embrace the grind,” she said. “Ball control, hustle and defense.”
She also expressed that there is a lot of rallying in women’s volleyball, so she advocates for a “small ball” approach to volleyball.
“My offensive scheme is very fast. Speed beats size generally. So fast offense coming off of ball control defense,” Melfy said. “We want to work our way through the point. Construct the point. Keep the ball in play until the opportunity presents itself. And you are not going to be able to stay in that grind unless you play defense.”
Her defensive system has a steep learning curve, so she cannot wait to work with her student athletes.
“I don’t run a traditional perimeter defense. There is a little more to it. That will be one of the biggest adjustments when we do get to play,” she said.
The libero is a defensive specialist in volleyball and plays an important role in Melfy’s system. Junior Emily Meredith was last season’s starter at the position.
“That girl gets it done,” Melfy said.
But needless to say, she believes in teamwork. It is twenty heartbeats beating as one.
“We have to be rowing in the same direction all the time and doing it for the right reasons,” Melfy said. “Humble champions. We want to win the right way with class and dignity. That is the culture that I am trying to foster right now.”
Rob Causton is the long-time Assistant Coach of ESU Women’s Volleyball and has worked with the last few Head Coaches.
Since Melfy cannot yet have direct contact with her student athletes because of the restrictions imposed by the global pandemic, she has been leaning on Causton to help her get accommodated with her new team.
“He knows the girls well, and he knows the game well. It’s been really fun getting to know everybody,” Melfy said.
She already has her eyes trained on a few of her student athletes. Junior setter Kayla Lugo is someone to keep an eye on, along with freshman middle blocker Haley Small.
Freshman outside hitter, Kaylee Lopresto, is from Arizona. Because of Melfy’s background playing and coaching in Arizona, she already knows Lopresto.
“Stud. Six-one, lefty center. Hello,” Melfy said regarding graduate student transfer, Ali Finch.
Finch came to ESU for its graduate program, but because the team does not have any seniors, Melfy is counting on Finch to provide her young team with some leadership.
The team’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representatives for the academic year will be junior Emily Meredith and sophomore Jessica Irwin.
The current volleyball season has been suspended due to the global pandemic, but Melfy is hopeful that her team will get to play next year.
“We haven’t gotten a schedule from the PSAC, but we are planning on having a season,” Melfy said. “Beggars can’t be choosers. I’ll take what we can get. Anything to get back in the gym and start rolling with this team and doing what we love to do.”
Her coaching motto reflects the power of positive thinking.
“We will. We can,” Melfy said. “At the end of the day, I don’t want them to hope and wish. I want them to go and do. And when they believe it, they will do it. I would love to see our faculty and student body come out to see what our young women are doing.”
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