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Steve Santonastaso was named the head coach at Rhode Island on March 22, 2017 after 12 years as an assistant with the program.
Santonastaso – who had been the associate head coach for the previous nine seasons - became just the second head coach in Rhode Island history since women's volleyball was recognized as a varsity sport by the NCAA in 1981. He replaced Bob Schneck, who retired at the end of the 2016 season, following 36 years at the helm of the program.
"I am so happy to have Steve Santonastaso take over as our head volleyball coach," Rhode Island Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn said in announcing Santonastaso's hiring. "He has been an integral part of our program for a long time. Over the years, he has taken on many additional duties that have helped us achieve incredible success. I am excited to continue working with Steve to put our volleyball program in the best possible position to compete for an Atlantic 10 Championship."
Santonastaso is a leader, a teacher, and an innovator. After graduating from Rhode Island in 1993 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education with a concentration in athletic training, Santonastaso headed west to earn his masters in athletic training at San Jose State University.
Prior to returning to his alma mater for the 2005 season, Santonastaso spent 12 years in the volleyball hotbed of California, where he was the head varsity coach at Presentation High School in San Jose. Starting in 1998, he led the team to four consecutive Central Coast Section championships as well as a win at the Northern California championship in 2002. In his eight years at Presentation, Santonastaso coached 11 players who earned scholarships to Division I institutions.
Santonastaso was also involved with junior Olympic club volleyball, serving as a City Beach Volleyball Club head coach since 1997 and as the club's associate director since 1998. While coaching City Beach, he led the club to a gold medal at the USA Volleyball Junior Olympics in 2002, a silver in 2004 and a bronze in 2001. He coached nine junior national All-Americans and 14 players who signed Division I scholarships, including seven who developed into All-Americans.
A Cranston, R.I. native, Santonastaso played on the boy's volleyball team in its first year of existence at Cranston East High. He went on to pursue his undergraduate degree from Rhode Island while playing setter and right side hitter in a Rhody uniform on the men's club volleyball team from 1990-93.
He helped the Rams to a second-place finish at the 1993 National Club Volleyball Championships in Austin, Texas, and was a part of back-to-back New England Collegiate Volleyball League championships in 1990 and 1991, earning the NECVL Most Valuable Player award in 1991. He also helped lead the Rams to a pair of Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association titles in 1992 and 1993.