The 2017 season marks the 32nd for Gail Wasmus as the head coach of the NYIT volleyball program. Under her tutelage, the Bears have reached lofty heights and rank as one of the top programs in the Northeast.
During the 2016 season, NYIT volleyball earned its first East Coast Conference title in 26 years, Wasmus claimed her 600th career victory, the Bears set a program record for wins with 29 and NYIT earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament's East Region.
The Bears also performed in the classroom.
For the fifth straight year, the squad claimed an American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for achieving at least a 3.30 GPA.
"I'm always very proud of our academic accomplishments," Wasmus said. "We always continue to strive to be academically excellent each semester."
NYIT claimed it first volleyball league title since 1990 on Nov. 19 with a four-set win against host Daemen in the ECC finals at Lumsden Gymnasium in Buffalo.
Allison Fowler, a junior mechanical-engineering major from Centennial, Colo., was named ECC Tournament MVP. Fowler finished the championship match with 35 assists, 18 digs and five block assists.
Tiffany Verni, a transfer from Dowling, had 14 kills and Karolina Moderova had 13 kills in the 25-23, 25-21, 24-26, 25-20 win against the host Wildcats. The Bears overcame a five-point deficit in the opening set to establish the tone in the finals.
Wasmus' 600th victory came against Adelphi on Dec. 1, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. It was with that same victory that the Bears also achieved a program record for wins in a single season with No. 29, topping the previous record set in 2003 and repeated in 2015. Back in '03, NYIT went 28-7 under Wasmus and qualified for the NCAA Tournament Regional. Wasmus earned ECC Coach of the Year honors for her contribution in 2015.
Unfortunately, after topping Adelphi in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in December, the top-seeded Bears lost the following day to American International, the eventual East Region champion, to end an accomplishment-filled season.
Under Wasmus' leadership, the volleyball program has now posted 15 seasons of 20-plus wins.
Wasmus boasts a 600-401 career record as the head volleyball coach at NYIT, good for a .599 winning percentage. She opened the 2016-17 academic year as the 11th-winningest active coach in Division II volleyball.
Among the Bears' 29 wins in 2016, 17 came in straight sets.
The Bears dominated the ECC postseason awards, with four NYIT student-athletes landing among the league's first-team all-conference honorees — Fowler, Rachel Guida, Moderova and Verni.
Fowler also claimed her second straight Setter of the Year honor from the league.
The awards kept coming, too. Fowler and Moderova claimed Division II honorable mention All-America recognition from the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Fowler, Guida and Moderova had all earned spots on the AVCA's East Region team.
Finally, the Division II Conference Commissioners Association named Guida and Fowler to its All-East Region first team.
Guida ranked fourth nationally in Division II with 154 total blocks and 20th with 1.20 blocks per set. Moderova ranked 16th with 54 service aces. Verni was 23rd in total kills with 480 and 33rd in total attacks with 1,296.
Moderova, a business marketing major from Zalesie, Slovakia, picked up her 1,000th career kill on Nov. 3, during a three-set win against Molloy. The milestone kill for the junior outside hitter came in the second set en route to a 25-17, 25-10, 33-31 victory.
Wasmus took over a volleyball program that was just one year old in 1976, and immediately turned it into a winner. Following a 4-5 first season, Wasmus led the Bears to nine consecutive winning seasons from 1977 to 1985, including seven straight appearances in the NYSAIAW Tournament from 1977 to 1983.
Wasmus left NYIT in 1985 and became the director of an indoor sports complex for eight years. She eventually opened her own company, Independence All-Sports Apparel, which she continues to successfully operate. She resumed her role as head coach of the volleyball team in 1997.