CHARLESTON — After three seasons, Sam Wolinski, former volleyball head coach, won’t have her contract renewed by Eastern Illinois University.
Wolinski was hired by EIU Athletic Director Tom Michael in late March of 2015, but after a record of 36-56 over the past three seasons, including a five-win season in 2016, EIU is moving in a different direction.
The Panthers are coming off a 15-15 record in 2017 and were 8-8 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Panthers qualified for the OVC tournament this season and pulled off an upset against No. 2 SIU Edwardsville before falling to Murray State, the No. 3 seed.
It was the second time the Panthers made the OVC tournament in Wolinski’s three seasons. In Wolinski’s first season, the Panthers went 11-5 in the OVC in 2015 but lost in the first round to Tennessee Tech.
The Panthers went 16-15 in 2015, but they followed it up with a 5-26 season and were 2-14 in the OVC. The Panthers went 0-12 at home in 2015.
Peter Green, who was an assistant coach the last three seasons at EIU, is no longer listed on EIU’s website, either.
The Panthers had four seniors on this season’s 15-15 team – Allie Hueston, Maria Brown, Hayley Richardson and Josie Winner. Winner was injured this season, and Richardson was a bench player.
Brown, an outside hitter, was second on the team with 290 kills and had 255 digs. Hueston had 246 kills and hit .322 this season. She had a team-high 115 blocks.
The Panthers do return their top attack, as freshman Laurel Bailey had 292 kills, and junior Taylor Smith led the nation in triple-doubles. She was second on the team with 272 kills and 103 blocks. She added a team-high 662 sets and was second on the team with 331 digs. Libero Anne Hughes, who had a team-high 538 digs, also returns.
Wolinski came to EIU after spending two seasons at Mississippi State. She was the head coach at NCAA Division III Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., for 14 seasons. Her 261 wins at Rhodes is the most in the program’s history.