Sutherland named UWGB volleyball head coach
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) volleyball head coach Abbey Sutherland was named the head coach of the NCAA Division 1 UW-Green Bay (UWGB) volleyball team Feb. 27.
Sutherland guided the Pointers to a pair of trips to the NCAA Division III Final Four and a 146-36 record during five seasons as the team’s head coach.
Former UWSP assistant coach Lyndsay Kooi, who spent last season as an assistant coach at NCAA Division III Millikin (Ill.), has been named the UWSP volleyball interim head coach for the 2018 season this fall.
“I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to lead the Green Bay women’s volleyball program,” said Sutherland. “It is evident that the team is motivated to be exceptional students, teammates, and competitors, and I am excited to get to work.
“I also want to thank UW-Stevens Point for an incredible five-year journey,” she said. “I learned a ton and worked with outstanding student-athletes. I am very proud of what the team has accomplished on and off the court.”
“Abbey is a tremendous volleyball coach, leader, mentor, educator and all-around special person,” said UWSP director of athletics Brad Duckworth. “She has been a great asset to the Pointers volleyball program the last five seasons, setting a high standard for success on and off the court.
“The entire athletic department wishes Abbey the best of luck, knowing she will do great things in Green Bay,” he said.
A West Bend native, Sutherland played collegiately at St. Norbert, and then spent six seasons as an assistant coach at NCAA Division 1 Southern Mississippi, before she went 44-47 in three seasons as the head coach at Southern Mississippi from 2010 through 2012.
Sutherland took over as the head coach of the UWSP volleyball program for the 2013 season after it went 29-8 and reached the NCAA Division III Tournament a year earlier under former coach Stacey White, and guided the Pointers to a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
UWSP rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat Wartburg (Iowa) 3-2 in the opening round for its first NCAA Tournament victory since 1984, then avenged a 3-0 loss earlier in the season by winning 3-1 over sixth-ranked Saint Benedict (Min.) to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history.
The 19th-ranked Pointers followed with 3-1 win over fourth-ranked St. Thomas (Minn.) in the Sweet 16 and won 3-0 over second-ranked host school Hope (Mich.) in the Elite Eight to earn their first trip to the Final Four, where they fell 3-0 to third-ranked California Lutheran to finish 35-5 overall.
“Coming into this season, I really didn’t know what to expect because we were so young,” said Sutherland after the loss. “I knew we had to take baby steps and thankfully they responded to my coaching and believed they could be successful. By taking it one step at a time, we were able to accomplish this great thing that we did.”
UWSP returned to the NCAA Tournament the following season, where the sixth-ranked Pointers won their first four games to earn a second consecutive trip to the Final Four and run their win streak to 21 matches, before a 3-1 loss to Emory (Ga.) in the National Semifinals ended their season at 33-5.
The Pointers made their third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament under Sutherland in 2015, when 17th-ranked UWSP lost 3-0 to fourth-ranked Calvin (Mich.) in the second round to finish 27-9.
UWSP was denied an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after it finished 27-7 in 2016, while Sutherland guided the Pointers to a 24-10 record last fall, in what was expected to be a rebuilding season.
A native of Minooka, Ill., Kooi played collegiately at NCAA Division II Quincy University (Ill.), then was an assistant coached at Rochelle Township High School, before she joined UWSP as an assistant coach for the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Kooi spent last season an assistant coach at Millikin, which ended its season ranked 12th following a loss in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and was named the Pointers’ interim head coach March 5, with a full national search for the position to take place following the 2018 season.
“I am excited and humbled to be returning to UW-Stevens Point,” said Kooi. “I want to thank Mr. Duckworth for this tremendous opportunity and welcoming me back to the Pointer family.
“I also want to thank Abbey Sutherland for her guidance and all that she has given to the Pointers’ volleyball program,” she said. “Pointers athletics and Pointers volleyball have built a reputation of tradition and success. I look forward to continuing that work with our talented and skilled student-athletes as we compete against other outstanding and well-led WIAC volleyball programs. We will continue the ‘Pointer Way,’ working hard to make our fans and families proud.”
“I am thrilled to be bringing Lyndsay back to Stevens Point,” said Duckworth. “She showed in her two seasons here at UWSP and last year at Millikin that she is ready to take the reins of our program.
“She is one of the best up-and-coming coaches out there, and we are excited to have her back as a Pointer,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sutherland takes over a UWGB program that finished 17-16 last season and was the runner-up in the Horizon League Championship in each of the last two seasons
“I am thrilled to welcome Abbey and her family to the UW-Green Bay community,” said UWGB director of athletics Charles Guthrie. “Not only has Abbey coached NCAA Division 1, she’s an exceptional teacher and recruiter.
“Throughout her career, she has exhibited an uncanny, proven ability to connect with and develop student-athletes,” he said. “With a strong core returning, I have no doubt that Abbey will keep our women’s volleyball program trending towards excellence. We are excited to have her.”