Saying she was “ecstatic and so very, very excited” to be named the Wright State volleyball coach, Allie Matters couldn’t wait to share the news and get started.
But she knew she had to.
The former Seton Hall assistant coach took the job last Thursday but asked WSU not to announce it until Wednesday.
“My student-athletes at Seton Hall didn’t come from Christmas break until (Wednesday), and after being here for seven years it was something I valued very much, being able to tell them in person,” Matters said. “There were some tears but also a lot of laughs. They knew my goal was to become a head coach, so they were really excited for me.”
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It’s that kind of commitment to her players, along with a decorated playing and coaching career, that made Matters the right fit to replace Susan Clements, whose contract was not renewed last fall after going 48-133 in six seasons at WSU.
“I cannot wait for Coach Matters to bring her passion for volleyball to Wright State,” associate director of athletics Joylynn Brown said. “She is a proven winner at a high level, both as a player and coach, who has extensive knowledge of our program and this region.”
The familiarity stems from Seton Hall head coach Allison (Smerz) Yaeger being a 2004 WSU graduate and 2003 Horizon League defensive player of the year.
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“She has such good memories of Wright State and talks about that place a lot,” Matters said. “There’s a huge wall in her office that’s committed to Wright State with pictures of her and her teammates and her framed jersey, and she really got me excited about a place where family and culture is valued. And that’s something important to me.”
As part of a two-person coaching staff at Seton Hall, Matters was involved in every aspect of the program, including recruiting. And the Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus areas were heavily targeted, and she’s already familiar with a couple of Raiders who were club teammates of players Matters had at Seton Hall.
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Matters set numerous records at Seton Hall, where she is considered one of the greatest players in program history. She was the school’s freshman female athlete of the year in 2006, and the female athlete of the year as a senior in 2009, when she led the Pirates to their first Big East Championship appearance in 15 years.
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Taking the Raiders to the Horizon League tournament, something that hasn’t happened since 2008, is at the top of her list of goals.
In the Big East, only four teams make the conference tournament. But in the Horizon League, it’s six.
“I told the student-athletes I talked to during my interview that we are going to live, breathe, eat and sleep that 6 spot.,” Matters said. “And we’re going to work hard until we get there. And then when get 6, we’re going to live, breathe, eat and sleep 5.
“The girls seem so eager to get started and just kind of rejuvenate and refresh,” she added. “I was happy when I walked out, one of the girls was like ‘I want to play right now.’ I was glad I inspired them in the short time I spoke to them.”