Head coach Linda Sagnelli, Central Connecticut State University's all-time winningest Division I volleyball coach, enters her 20th season at the helm of the Blue Devil program in 2019. Sagnelli led CCSU to 12 straight Northeast Conference Tournament appearances from 2003-2014. The C.W. Post alumna and AVCA Top 25 Poll voter, who has 307 wins in 19 seasons as head coach at Central, has firmly entrenched the Blue Devils as one of the top teams in the Northeast Conference.
Under Sagnelli, Central has reached double-digit win totals in each of her seasons. She has also had at least one student-athlete earn All-NEC honors in each season, most recently in 2018 when three Blue Devils earned All-NEC honors.
Sagnelli won her 300th game at CCSU on Sept. 28 with a win over St. Francis Brooklyn. The season also included a highlight of junior Madelyn Kaprelyan becaming the first player in program history to be named Northeast Conference Player of the Year. Kaprelyan was also named ECAC Player of the Year and NEC Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Kaprelyan was an All-NEC First Team choice, while junior Gala Galabova and sophomore Emma Henderson earned Second Team honors.
In 2017, Sagnelli led Central to a share of the NEC regular-season championship and to the championship match of the league tournament before it dropped a five-set decision. For her efforts she was named the Northeast Conference Coach of the Year and the ECAC Coach of the Year. Senior Maddie Smith was named All-NEC Second Team and the Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. CCSU earned the AVCA Academic Team honor for the 11th straight season.
In 2016, freshman Morgan Woycik earned First Team honors and was named the NEC Rookie of the Year. Senior Rachel Fish was named to the Second Team for the Blue Devils who opened NEC play with six straight wins and qualified for the league's postseason tournament.
In 2015, Makenna Lommori became just the third Blue Devil to earn All-NEC recognition four times. The team was also named the NEC Sportsmanship Award winner and was recognized with the AVCA Team Academic Award for the 10th straight year.
The Blue Devils continued Sagnelli's streak of helping CCSU finish among the top four teams to qualify for the NEC Tournament in 2014. Central had two student-athletes earn All-NEC First Team honors in the same season for the first time since 2008. Lommori became just the second student-athlete in program-history to earn first team honors three times. Dunlap, who earned all-conference honors for the second time, became the first Blue Devil to take part in U.S. National Team tryouts following the season.
Central posted a 21-9 overall record in 2013 and qualified for the NEC Tournament as the #2 seed after going 11-3 in league play. The Blue Devils advanced to the championship match for the second straight season after defeating Sacred Heart in the semifinals. CCSU ran off a 10-match win streak during the season, its longest streak since the 2004 season. Three Blue Devils ended the season earning All-NEC honors, with Lommori being named to the first team, while Dunlap and Heather Trueman earned second team recognition.
In 2012, the #3 seed Blue Devils defeated the #2 Robert Morris Colonials in the NEC Tournament Semifinals to advance to the NEC Championship match for the first time since 2003. The 2012 squad featured four All-NEC players: Jamie Rademacher, Emily Cochran, Brittany Schumacher and Lommori. Lommori was the lone first team selection and was also named NEC Rookie of the Year after a standout freshman season. Lommori became the third Blue Devil to earn rookie of the year honors, but is the only CCSU player to also be recognized as First Team All-NEC at the same time.
During the spring of 2012, Sagnelli was one of six women honored at the 21st Annual June Baker Higgins Conference and inaugural Women of Influence Gala. The gala honored women who have significantly impacted CCSU or the wider community, made a significant contribution in the lives of women, diligently promoted women's rights, or have worked tirelessly to educate women.
In 2011, Sagnelli's squad featured a pair of All-NEC selections in senior Sara DeLacey and junior Emily Cochran. Both players had standout seasons for a Blue Devil squad that finished 20-11 and 11-5 in NEC play. The team reached its ninth consecutive NEC Tournament and was named an AVCA Academic Team for the sixth straight year. The 20-win season was the fourth for Sagnelli at Central Connecticut.
The 2010 Blue Devils received recognition on and off the court. Senior Amanda Bayer became CCSU's all-time leader in assists during the season and senior Kaitlin Petrella was named the NEC's Libero of the Year. Then junior Sara DeLacey joined Petrella in receiving NEC end of the year honors. In the classroom, the Blue Devils received the Team Academic Award from the American Volleyball Coaches Association for the fifth consecutive year.
In 2009, the Blue Devils once again proved to be among the NEC's top teams on the court. Senior Jamie Baumert helped lead the team to a 12-4 record in NEC play, and her efforts were rewarded with a first team All-NEC selection. Juniors Kaitlin Petrella and Amanda Bayer were named to the All-NEC second team, Petrella also received the honor of being named NEC Libero of the Year. New Blue Devil Emily Cochran made an immediate impact on Coach Sagnelli's squad and her performance earned her NEC Rookie of the Year honors. The Blue Devils were honored by the Northeast Conference and received national recognition for the team's academic performance. It was the fourth straight year that Sagnelli's team received the honor from the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
While recording a 5-3 NEC record in 2008, the Blue Devils finished third in the league during the regular season. Sagnelli guided three CCSU student-athletes to All-NEC honors last season. Senior captain Amanda Olmstead and sophomore Lauren Snyder took home first team accolades, as they finished first and second on the team in kills. Junior Jamie Baumert was named to the second team after leading the conference in blocks. The talented middle blocker also received ESPN Academic All-District I Second Team honors for her success on and off the court.
With a 23-7 effort in 2007, Sagnelli earned NEC Coach of the Year honors while helping the Blue Devils to their best season since 1994. As a freshman Amanda Bayer received Rookie of the Year honors for the NEC and tallied 1,334 assists in 2007, which ranks her second in CCSU history for a single season. Sagnelli had four Blue Devils receive All-Conference honors in 2007. Bayer, as well as fellow freshmen, Snyder and Kaitlin Petrella were selected to the All-NEC Second Team. Baumert received All-NEC First Team honors, while leading the Blue Devils with a .330 hitting percentage.
In 2006, Central advanced to the NEC semifinals. The Blue Devils had two major conference award winners in 2006, as senior Brynn Good and Baumert, a freshman, took home Setter of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors, respectively, from the NEC. Good also made an All-NEC first team appearance, while Baumert was a second team selection. The season also saw Good become the first player in CCSU history to record 3,000 career assists and 1,000 career digs.
In 2005, the Blue Devils advanced to the NEC Tournament semifinals before dropping a four-game match to eventual champion Long Island. The 18-8 record for the Blue Devils marked the third straight season CCSU had won at least 18 matches.
The 2005 season saw Chantelle Bowden become the program's first-ever student-athlete to record 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. In addition to being named the NEC's Volleyball Scholar Athlete of the Year, she also earned ESPN Academic All-District I First Team honors for her efforts in the classroom as well as on the court. Good was named the NEC Setter of the Year and, along with Jacqui Jackson, was named to the All-NEC First Team. Bowden, Katie Seamon and Chelsea Magee were named to the All-NEC Second Team.
In 2004, Jen Cote earned All-NEC First Team honors, while Bowden and Seamon made the All-NEC Second Team. Cote and Bowden were named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District I First Team, and Shannon Verity was named to the second team. The Blue Devils recorded double-digit victories for the fifth straight season. Cote and Verity finished up outstanding careers, totaling 1,432 and 1,363 kills, respectively. They rank in second and third place in the CCSU Record Book.
During the 2003 campaign, Sagnelli and the Blue Devils posted a 21-9 record and advanced to the finals of the Northeast Conference tournament for the second time in three seasons. The Blue Devils, who hosted the tournament in 2003, entered as the second seed and eventually lost to Robert Morris in the finals. Three of Sagnelli's players were named to the All-NEC teams and two earned Academic All-District recognition. She was named the 2003 Northeast Conference Coach of the Year. Sagnelli's impression on the Blue Devils program was an immediate one. She took only two seasons to post the school's first winning record in eight seasons by finishing 17-14 in 2001. Central capped Sagnelli's inaugural campaign in 2000 with a trip to the Northeast Conference Volleyball Championships after an absence in 1999. On the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson, the Blue Devils recorded their first-ever NEC tournament match victory, a 3-0 win over FDU.
In just her second season at the CCSU helm, Sagnelli brought the 2001 Blue Devils to the top of the Northeast Conference. That season, Central went into the NEC Championship as the top seed, and Sagnelli earned her first Northeast Conference Coach of the Year honor. The Northeast Conference coaches also selected Cote, a freshman at the time, to the All-NEC First Team, and seniors Sarah Haase and Sara Winchell, along with freshman Shannon Verity, to the All-NEC Second Team. In 2002, CCSU, which recorded double-digit victories for the third straight season, narrowly missed the NEC Championships, though the Blue Devils' one-two punch of Cote and Verity received All-NEC Second Team honors.
Previously, Sagnelli achieved a measure of success during a 14-year career as the head coach at Iona.
At Iona, she compiled a 126-184 (.406) mark and remains the only coach in the history of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to be named Coach of the Year in two different sports, winning the honor in volleyball and softball.
One of the highlights of her softball coaching career at Iona, which spanned from 1985-1996, was her 1992 selection as the MAAC Softball Coach of the Year. She followed that up in 1994 with a MAAC Volleyball Coach of the Year award. Sagnelli wore a variety of hats while at Iona, serving four years as an assistant athletic director and eleven as the school's senior women's administrator. She was responsible for overseeing all of the Gaels' women's athletic programs and served as an advisor and mentor to the women's coaching staff. She also directed Iona's intramurals program and served as chairwoman of the MAAC Crew Championship Committee and on the MAAC Marketing Committee.
Sagnelli served a three-year term as a member of the Regional Ranking Committee for the Mideast Region and is currently a member of the Regional All-America committee for the Mideast region.
Her athletic background includes being named MVP of a Division I/Division II AIAW Regional Championship as a senior in 1982. That fall, Sagnelli and her C.W. Post teammates appeared in the NCAA Tournament and finished in the top-10 with a record of 47-5. in the spring of that year, she participated in the 1983 Nationals as a starter for The Windchimes, an open-level national team.
Sagnelli was inducted into the C.W. Post Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.
Sagnelli, who has international playing experience as a member of a United States team that competed in Sweden for The Viking Cup, resides in Madison, CT, with her husband, John, and their children, Matthew and Erin.