Santonastaso Named Head Coach of Rhode Island Volleyball Program

Santonastaso Named Head Coach of Rhode Island Volleyball Program
KINGSTON, R.I. – Rhode Island Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn announced Steve Santonastaso as the head coach for women's volleyball Wednesday afternoon.

Santonastaso – who has been part of the Rams' coaching staff for the last 12 seasons – replaces Bob Schneck, who retired at the end of the 2016 season, following 36 years at the helm of the program. Santonastaso becomes just the second head coach in Rhode Island history since women's volleyball was recognized as a varsity sport by the NCAA in 1981.

"I am so happy to have Steve Santonastaso take over as our head volleyball coach," Bjorn said. "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 – who graduated from Rhode Island in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in physical education – spent the last nine seasons as the associate head coach for Schneck. Their volleyball relationship began while Santonastaso was an undergraduate student at URI and provided the foundation for a long-term professional relationship.

"The years spent having Coach Schneck as a mentor have been invaluable," Santonastaso said. "He gave me an opportunity and provided me the freedom to grow as a coach at the college level. He took a chance on me, and I am looking forward to continuing to lead this program on the path of success we have established.

"I would also like to thank Thorr Bjorn and the entire administration for their support over the last 12 years. I am excited for the opportunity to continue to guide the volleyball program here at the University of Rhode Island."

Under the watch of the Schneck and Santonastaso, the Rams have experience increased success in recent years, winning more than 65 percent of their matches over the last three seasons (55-29). Rhody has steadily risen in the Atlantic 10 standings in five consecutive seasons, culminating in a second-place finish behind only regular-season and tournament champion Dayton in 2016.

"The student-athletes I have worked with over the years have committed themselves to a lifestyle that has elevated our program and it has been my privilege to grow along with them as a coach and a person." Santonastaso said. "In recent years, we have seen the program rise to the top of the Atlantic 10, and we have shown that Rhode Island is a great place to play volleyball in the Northeast. My goal is to continue to move the program forward with both the current and incoming student-athletes."