After two phenomenal seasons that saw the Stags rule as MAAC champions and make the NCAA Tournament, Fairfield volleyball Head Coach Alija Pittenger and Associate Head Coach Sarah Katinger have left the program to pursue other career opportunities.

To replenish the head coach position, Todd Kress has been hired to lead the team and hopefully add to the volleyball legacy that has been created at Fairfield over the past two years. Kress previously served as the Stags’ head coach from 1995-98. In over 20 years of collegiate coaching, he has an overall record of 328-239 and was the second youngest coach in NCAA history who had 200 career wins.

As the head coach at Fairfield for four seasons, Kress went 94-45 overall, including a program record 35-2 record in his final season. He was named the MAAC Coach of the Year three times and helped the Stags to their first two MAAC Tournament Championships and their first two NCAA Tournament appearances.

Kress has his share of accolades, having recorded four conference Coach of the Year awards, won seven conference championships and made four NCAA appearances. He spent his last five seasons as the head coach at the University of Buffalo where he led the team to three winning seasons and two Mid-American Conference Tournament appearances.

Before Buffalo, Kress spent seven seasons at Florida State University where he led the team to one NCAA Tournament appearance. He also spent four seasons as the head coach at Northern Illinois University where he guided the team to a MAC Championship as well as an NCAA Tournament berth in 2001.

Clearly, Kress has a long list of accomplishments behind him and he is already familiar with coaching in the Fairfield setting. His experience and leadership ought to be influential on the team and help to spread a winning atmosphere on campus.

Like aforementioned, the Fairfield volleyball team has performed admirably over the past two seasons. Two consecutive MAAC Championships and NCAA Tournament appearances highlight the team’s accomplishments and they are poised for even more success in seasons to come.

However, the Stags will be losing one piece that was absolutely instrumental to the team’s triumphs: Rachel Romansky ’14. As one of Fairfield’s all-time volleyball stars, Romansky is one of only two Stags to have more than 4,000 assists and 1,000 digs in a career. She ranks second all-time at Fairfield in assists (4,552) and ninth all-time in digs (1,132). She is also the first student-athlete in MAAC history to be named MAAC Setter of the Year in three consecutive seasons.

Fairfield will only be losing one other player from last year, Hayley Morer ’14. However, like Romansky, she was also very important to the team’s success. Just this past season, Moyer was named to the All-MAAC Second Team and All-Tournament Team. Without these two players on the team for the 2014 season, there will be a serious void to fill that new coach Todd Kress will have to address.

Luckily for Kress, he has a variety of options that can take over such voids. Many of the proficient Stags are poised to go above and beyond their performances from last year. Two of these are upcoming seniors Caitlin Stapleton and Marilyn Peizer. Both of these players have been previously noted for their performances, each earning All-MAAC First Team bids.

After three seasons, Stapleton ranks ninth all-time in block assists (205), tenth in kills per set (2.71) and has recorded 875 kills. In the 2013 season, she appeared in all 32 matches, playing 117 of 119 possible sets, and finished with a career-best 81 total blocks and 296 kills.

Peizer also appeared in all 32 matches last season and finished averaging 3.61 kills along with 157 digs and 55 total blocks. She also performed admirably in the MAAC Tournament and NCAA Tournament games and could be integral for the team this upcoming season.

So, even though the team is losing two important seniors as well as a head coach and associate coach, there are reasons to believe that the Stags will pick up right where they left off last season. Kress is a seasoned veteran who is already familiar with the Fairfield system and has a knack for winning. There are also many players ready to rise as stars of the team and help the team pursue a third consecutive MAAC Championship and NCAA Tournament berth.

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