Ullery Era Begins for Fordham Volleyball


New Head Volleyball Coach Gini Ullery hopes her first season with Fordham is a successful one. (Melanie Chamberlain/The Observer)


New Head Volleyball Coach Gini Ullery hopes her first season with Fordham is a successful one. (Melanie Chamberlain/The Observer)
New Head Volleyball Coach Gini Ullery hopes her first season with Fordham is a successful one. (Melanie Chamberlain/The Observer)

The Fordham women’s volleyball team began their season on Aug. 30 with a win over Savannah State University at the Winthrop Classic, a summer tournament hosted by Winthrop University. The team ended up losing the next two games at the Winthrop Classic. Since the Winthrop Classic, the team have struggled and prevailed numerous times throughout the rest of the season. This is the team’s first season under the wing of head coach Gini Ullery.

Ullery, who hails from California, was a four-year starter at the University of Pittsburgh, where she graduated in 2005. She actually began her coaching career in 2002 as a student-assistant coach at the Volleyball Summer Camp hosted by the University of Pittsburgh. In 2006, Ullery became the head coach of the Pittsburgh Renaissance Volleyball Club. She spent six years coaching the Pittsburgh Renaissance Volleyball Club, but, in the meantime, she also held a coaching position at Duquesne University.

“Working at Duquesne, from a coaching stand point, we had a small staff. There were two of us, so I got to dabble in every aspect of being a coach,” she recalled. “Either being an assistant or head coach, I was pretty familiar with everything. I think that just being given the opportunity at Duquesne to get my start in coaching, really help[ed] me now to make the turn to head coach.”

In the team’s first 10 games of the season, they held a 6-4 record. On three occasions, the team’s offense completely shut down as they failed to win a set. But Ullery remains hopeful about their scoring ability. “I think that they’ve been working hard. I saw a lot of fight in them. When we were down, we never gave up,” she said. “That is probably what formed what our team is going to be like this year. They fight no matter what.”

Although she is the new coach this fall, Ullery does not feel like it is difficult to connect with her players. She actually feels very fortunate to have this particular group of girls. “I got a group of kids that really wanted to work hard,” she noted. “They wanted to be pushed, they wanted to be better. So in return, I feel like I was lucky because I didn’t get much resistance when starting to implement and change things within the program.” Besides, the team has been working on its new chemistry since the spring when Ullery arrived and the team was able to play in four non-tournament spring competitions. “I got a lot of opportunities to watch them play. Obviously, in practice, we work on the things we need to continually work on and help to make us better,” she said.

When discussing the next two tournaments, the West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Challenge and the Columbia Invitational, Ullery repeated her faith in her team against the various talented teams. “I think every match is going to be competition in itself, no matter, you know, how good the team is,” Ullery said. “It’s about us coming out and performing. And doing what we need to do on our side of the court to put us in a good advantage. I think overall, the teams are going to be solid teams but we need to come out and perform each match.”

And Ullery certainly has the team to win big in the upcoming Atlantic 10 Conference. Just last week, the California native Sara Konkel, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’14, recorded her 2,000th career assist during a game against the Boston College Eagles. On the very same day, Konkel then had a season-high record of 48 assists against the Binghamton University Bearcats. The Bearcats’ match also saw Ohio native Maria Rodenberg, FCRH ’14, register her 1,000th dig for her career. Since that game, Rodenberg has tied for fourth all-time in Fordham history with 1,016 digs alongside Cindy Vojtech who graduated from Fordham in 2000. Floridian Brianna O’Neil, FCRH ’16, is also a player to watch as she has between nine and 11 kills in her last few matches.

The Rams continue their season this upcoming Friday evening, Sept. 20, when they take on the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders at the CCSU Invitational in Connecticut.