Matt Botsford is entering his fifth season as head coach of the FGCU women’s volleyball program in 2018. He was hired on Feb. 10, 2014.
In his four seasons, Botsford-led teams have compiled an 89-38 (.701) record overall, including a 42-14 (.750) record in ASUN play. He has taken the program to heights it has not seen in the Division-I era (2007-present) – registering at least 20 wins overall in three straight seasons and at least 10 wins in conference play four straight seasons.
Furthermore, the team’s offensive efficiency has drastically improved since Botsford started. In his first two seasons, his squad produced hitting percentages of .212 and .220. The past two, which have seen .267 and .256 percentages, are the third and fourth highest in program history.
All four seasons under Botsford have seen a top-3 ASUN regular season finish and at least an ASUN semifinal appearance. His first two campaigns resulted in regular season runner-up finishes, and the past two have seen the Eagles advance to the tournament championship.
On Sept. 10, 2016, Botsford led his team to a five-set win over Indiana in Alico Arena, which signified the program’s first-ever win over a team from a Power-5 conference.
2015 Botsford’s first class included student-athletes such as Amanda Carroll, Maggie Rick and Karissa Rhoades. Carroll has already become the program’s all-time kills leader and holds career marks in five offensive categories. Rick is on pace to break the program’s career assist record and already holds the assists per set mark, while Rhoades is nearing 1,000 career digs after coming to the Green and Blue as an outside hitter. Another member of that first recruiting class, Kaitlan Krivdo, ranks among the top 20 in five career Division-I era statistical categories entering her senior year.
2016 The second class included players such as 2016 ASUN All-Freshmen Team member Giovanna Borgiotti and 2017 First Team All-ASUN selection Daniele Serrano.
2017 Two members of Botsford’s third recruiting class have already made a huge impact – Snowy Burnam, who became just the second athlete in NCAA history to be named her conference’s freshman of the year in both indoor and beach volleyball, and Cortney VanLiew, who was an ASUN All-Freshmen Team selection.
2018 The most recent recruiting class to wear the Green and Blue includes Dana Axner, Chelsey Lockey, Tori Morris and Kirstine Garder. Axner, a defensive specialist, will help offset the loss of last year’s lone senior, Courtney Stephens. Lockey appears to be the heir apparent to Rick. Morris will provide depth in the middle and be a force at the net, and Garder was a member of Norway’s national team.
COURTNEY STEPHENS Stephens finished her career as the first four-year indoor graduate in Botsford’s tenure. In 2017, she became just the fifth player in program history with at least 1,000 career digs, finishing with 1,084, and also tied Gigi Meyer (2011-14) and Whitney Masters (2011-14) for the program’s career matches played record (126). Rick is on pace to pass them late in 2018.
YEAR IN REVIEW In 2017, Botsford’s very first recruit, Amanda Carroll, became the program’s very first AVCA First Team All-Region selection, while also garnering First Team All-ASUN, ASUN Co-Player of the Year, ASUN Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year and CoSIDA Academic All-District recognition. Snowy Burnam and Cortney VanLiew were each named to the ASUN’s All-Freshmen team, while Burnam became just the second player in NCAA history to be named her conference’s freshman of the year in both indoor and beach volleyball. Maggie Rick earned Second Team All-ASUN recognition and made the ASUN’s All-Academic team. Daniele Serrano was named First Team All-ASUN after a pair of top-10 seasons in solo blocks and hitting percentage.
THE SEASON AHEAD The 2018 campaign will witness Botsford’s most-experienced FGCU roster to date with five seniors and 22 seasons of prior collegiate experience. It comes one year after taking his least experienced team, with 17 seasons of experience, to an ASUN runner-up finish for the second straight season.
LOOKING BACK In 2016, Botsford's squad produced one of its most successful seasons ever at 27-6, with the win total representing the most in Division-I program history and falling two shy of the all-time mark. The Eagles recorded an 11-3 record within conference play and proceeded to down Jacksonville and Kennesaw State in the ASUN tournament before being edged out by Lipscomb in the championship. Five Eagles earned recognition from the ASUN following the season. Three were first-team honorees, which represents the most in program history. Rick, who was also named ASUN Setter of the Year, and Carroll were unanimous selections, while Leigh Pudwill rounded out the first-team selections. Freshmen Danielle Serrano and Giovanna Borgiotti earned ASUN All-Freshman team status. Botsford's team eclipsed the 20-win mark in 2015, compiling a 21-11 record. The Eagles finished second in the ASUN with a 10-4 record and placed five student-athletes on the ASUN second-team, including Rick and Carroll, who was also named the conference’s freshman of the year.
Botsford’s first season with the Green and Blue produced a 19-11 record, which was a five-win improvement over the previous season. He also guided the team to an 11-3 ASUN record and a second-place finish in the regular season. The team advanced to the semifinals of the ASUN tournament. Following the season, five players earned postseason recognition from the ASUN, including first-team honorees Eleonora Kazarian and Olivia Mesner, second-team members Whitney Masters and Gigi Meyer and All-Freshmen team member Mackenzie Allen, who eventually went on to round out her career with the beach volleyball program. On top of that, Meyer was named the ASUN’s Setter of the Year and earned Academic All-ASUN recognition. In addition to FGCU's five all-conference members, Meyer was honored as the ASUN's Setter of the Year and earned Academic All-Conference honors. Statistically, the Eagles increased saw several records set as Mesner become the all-time leader in all block categories and Meyer took over as the all-time leader in assists.
PRIOR TO FGCU Botsford, who played at Tri-State University (now Trine University) from 1995-98, served as an assistant coach at five different collegiate institutions, with the most recent occurring as an assistant at Colorado State University from May 2012 to February 2014. While there, he helped lead the Rams to two consecutive conference championships and NCAA Tournament berths. On top of that, the program also recorded a program-best 27 consecutive wins in 2013. Prior to his time at Colorado State, Botsford served as an assistant coach at Notre Dame, Miami, IUPUI and the University of Indianapolis. Furthermore, he served as an interim head coach at his alma mater at the age of 21 and has international and national coaching experience. Botsford was the lead recruiter at Notre Dame from February 2008 until July 2011, and his 2010 and 2011 classes were ranked 13th and 15th, respectively, in the nation by media outlets. The Fighting Irish advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 after winning the Big East title and going undefeated through the conference schedule (14-0). In total, he coached two All-Americans and six All-Big East performers – including the 2010 Big East Freshman of the Year Andrea McHugh – during his time in South Bend. Prior to his three plus years at Notre Dame, Botsford cultivated relationships with players and coaches throughout Florida as he served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Miami for nearly four years from June 2004 to February 2008. He helped solidify two of the highest-ranked recruiting classes in the relatively short history of the program, signing at least one top-100 rated player in each of his final three years and the first top-50 recruit for the Hurricanes. During his time with Miami, Botsford coached two All-Americans and five All-ACC players. In addition, he recruited Lane Carico, who was named the 2011 ACC Player of the Year. Carico supplemented a core group of starters Botsford recruited which led Miami to three straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Botsford got his start in coaching by serving as the interim head coach for both the men’s and women’s volleyball programs at Tri-State from November 1998 through June 1999. He parlayed his experience in those roles into an assistant position at the University of Indianapolis where he was for one year (June 1999 - May 2000). His final stop before heading to the University of Miami was as an assistant at IUPUI from May 2001 until June 2004, coaching two-time Mid-Continent Conference Player of the Year Rebekah Pallikan. Outside of the collegiate landscape, Botsford also has a vast array of experience. In the year between his stints at Notre Dame and Colorado State, he was the head coach of Lindesberg Volley as part of Sweden’s Elite Series, leading the club to a first-ever league title and automatic representation in European Cup play. While with Lindesberg Volley from August 2011 through May 2012, he coached four players who went on to play for Sweden’s National Team. The foray into Sweden wasn’t the first for Botsford as he played professionally with the Vingaker Volleyball Club in the country in 2002-03, the final of his three professional stints. In the collegiate offseason he also played from 1998-2003 on beach tours with both the MPVA and the EVP, the latter of which named him the league’s Rookie of the Year in 2000. Botsford was selected as an assistant coach for the 2007 USA Select Program, which trains elite volleyball players in preparation for the U.S. National Team. In his one year as part of the program, Botsford guided his team to a bronze medal in the HP Global Championships as the head coach of the USA Silver team.
PERSONAL A 1998 graduate from Tri-State with a degree in social studies education and a minor in general science, Botsford was a two-year captain who graduated as the program’s all-time leader in kills, digs and blocks and was named an All-American Scholar Athlete as a senior. In 2006, he was inducted into the Tri-State Hall of Fame.
Botsford, who received a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Indianapolis in 2004, resides in Estero with his wife, Lindsey. Together, they have a daughter, Harper, and a son, Cache.
Danny Mahy Camp director
Danny Mahy is in his 13th season as an assistant coach with the FGCU women’s volleyball program in 2018.
Over the past four seasons, Mahy has played an instrumental role in a program that has compiled an 89-38 record, including a 42-14 record in ASUN play. In fact, the Eagles have won at least 10 matches in conference play in each of the past four seasons, which is a first in program history. During Mahy’s time at FGCU, the women’s volleyball program has produced two ASUN regular season championships (2008, 2012) and three ASUN tournament runner-up finishes (2009, 2016, 2017). The Eagles have finished among the top three in the league standings in four consecutive seasons entering 2018. Individually, Mahy has helped produce 26 All-ASUN selections, including 12 on the first-team, as well as 11 ASUN All-Freshmen team honorees. Eight student-athletes have been awarded ASUN All-Academic team awards, and his tenure has seen two ASUN player of the year recipients (Amanda Carroll – 2017, Ana Kokanovic – 2009), two ASUN setter of the year recipients (Maggie Rick – 2016, Gigi Meyer – 2014), three ASUN freshman of the year recipients (Snowy Burnam – 2017, Amanda Carroll – 2015, Jill Hopper – 2011) and one ASUN scholar athlete of the year (Amanda Carroll – 2017). Additionally, he has played a role in nine ASUN all-tournament team selections.
The Miami, Fla. native has spent all but two seasons (2006, 2007) of the program’s history on the sideline. In 2004, he helped start the program at the NCAA Division-II level, and the Eagles made a regional semifinal and a regional final appearance, respectively, in his first two seasons.
Following that, Mahy transitioned to a role on the staff at Barry University, where he served under the direction of head coach Dave Nichols. In 2008, Nichols began a six-year stint as head coach at FGCU, and he brought Mahy along to begin his second tenure as an assistant coach and help the program grow into full NCAA Division-I status.
Mahy, who was twice named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Thirty Under 30 list, earlier served as an assistant coach at Miami Dade College, where he helped lead the program to an NJCAA national championship in 2002 and a national runner-up finish in 2003. While previously serving as an assistant coach with the USA South Volleyball Club from 2003-05, Mahy currently serves as the head coach for USA South Volleyball. Under his direction, USA South has consistently achieved a top-20 national ranking. In 2018, his USA South 13 Premier Purple team finished third in the nation at the USAV Nationals in Detroit and the premiere division of AAU Nationals. They are the only team in the history of Southwest Florida to finish third in two national tournaments at the youth level. A 2001 Miami Sunset High School graduate, Mahy was named his team’s MVP twice. He led his team to the Miami-Dade county championship as a senior.
Stephanie Zielinski Assistant Coach
Stephanie Zielinski is in her first full season with the FGCU volleyball coaching staff after joining the college in January 2018.
The Fort Lauderdale native, who spent the 2017 season as an assistant coach at Middle Tennessee, was an assistant coach at Davidson in 2016. While there, she helped lead the Wildcats to their first Atlantic 10 Conference tournament appearance in program history, and she coached Mikayla Derochie, a setter who went on to play professionally for Afturelding in Iceland. Prior to Davidson, Zielinski spent the 2015 season as a volunteer assistant coach at Wake Forest. With the Demon Deacons, the defensive minded coach was responsible for developing and executing defensive scouting reports, while also working closely with setters and servers.
Prior to getting into collegiate coaching, Zielinski signed with Volley Toggenburg in Wattwil, Switzerland. As the starting setter for the team, she was named the best player of the match eight times during the 2013-14 season. While there, she also organized and executed practices for the U-11 team in weekend tournaments, and she worked with youth players ages 8-15 on specific skills. All of this was done while speaking German.
Zielinski served as a club coach from 2010-12 for Atlantic Valley Volleyball Club (AVVC), while helping at numerous camps in Fort Lauderdale and New York.
A former student-athlete at Rutgers, Zielinski started four seasons with the Scarlet Knights volleyball program. She finished her career with 4,255 assists, including 1,342 as a senior in 2012, both of which are second all-time in Rutgers' program history. She also ended her career with 1,129 digs, which is fifth all-time at Rutgers, and with a mark of 11.28 assists per set, good for second all-time in Big East history.
In all four of her collegiate seasons, Zielinski led the Scarlet Knights in assists. As a junior, she led the team with 34 service aces and was second on the team in total blocks with 70. That followed a sophomore campaign in which she also led the team in digs with 272.
In January 2013, she was named RU’s New Jersey Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (NJAIAW) Woman of the Year. During her career at the college, she was a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Council (SAAC) and was named to the Executive Committee in spring 2012. She was also the recipient of the Rutgers Leadership award for athletics, academics and service.
Zielinski graduated from Rutgers in May 2013 with a degree in psychology and a minor in linguistics. Zielinski’s sister, Mackenzie, is currently a setter with the Miami (OH) RedHawks, and she considers her brother, Zachary, as one of her biggest inspirations. Both of her parents were student-athletes at Ithaca College where her father, Ron, played basketball and her mother, Lisa, played tennis. Her mother currently serves as the head volleyball coach at St. Thomas Aquinas, where the Raiders just captured their third-straight state championship.
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