Emma Celentano was named the head coach at the University of Mount Olive in December 2019. With COVID-19 producing some unexpected challenges to a head coaching career, Emma finally got to complete her first season in spring 2021.
The team was projected to finish 9 out of 11 and far surpassed expectations with a 3rd place finish. It was the first time UMO had finished with a winning record and won a conference playoff game since 2013. That initial success was upheld in the fall 2021 where Emma had her first “normal” season – one with a full schedule. The team sustained what they were starting to build and had their first 15-win season since 2013. In addition, one of her players Amara Eziakonwa was recognized as a First-Team All-Conference selection by leading the league in attack percentage.
The success only continued into the 2022 season, where the team will get to see the year hang in the rafters as they claimed a share of the 2022 Regular Season Championship. Some of the highlights included:
The first 20-win season since 2005
Two First Team All-Conference performers – Middle Blocker Amara Eziakonwa and Libero Morgan Prots
Finishing third in all of NCAA Division II in aces per set, averaging 2.54 and leading the entire country in total aces at 302
The team’s 9 losses only coming to regionally ranked teams
Her career started at North Carolina Central University where she worked as the associate head volleyball coach. Her on-court responsibilities with NC Central primarily included training the defense and serve receive. Emma’s off-court responsibilities ranged from recruiting to developing the team’s conditioning program.
Emma started her coaching career in the club world back in 2013 and spent the last 5 years growing Carolina Edge. The club started off with 4 teams in its first season and steadily grew to having 11 teams this past year in 21/22. The focus on youth development and exposing all of the club’s athletes to high-level college coaching is exactly what she hopes to continue bringing to Advantage.
Emma graduated with a degree in Exercise and Sport Science in addition to Coaching Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her education is put to good use each and every day, and she couldn’t have dreamed of a better start to her career than at NC Central, starting Carolina Edge, and taking over Mount Olive. Emma completed her Master’s in Physical Education with a concentration in Athletic Administration from NCCU in December 2019.
Lastly, Emma’s favorite athlete is Roger Federer, and she has an unhealthy love for chocolate milk and Lululemon. If she was home more, she would definitely want a dog; and she could eat breakfast food for every meal of the day, every day.
Jonathan Paulk, JP, is the head coach at Shaw University in downtown Raleigh. To find a game to attend, check out the Shaw schedule here.
Jonathan Paulk is entering his fifth year at Shaw University, repeating as the CIAA regular season champs in 2021 and 2022. Shaw has made it to the CIAA conference tournament finals in every season that Coach Paulk has been at the helm. In Shaw’s 2019 season, JP mentored his right side, Tyler Hunter, to top all NCAA division 1 and 2 players in aces per set with 0.60. In addition, his setter received the Conference Setter of the Year award and 5 players made the All Conference teams. In back to back seasons, JP led the team as a whole to the top of the country’s aces per set leader board with 2.71 in 2021 and 2.75 in 2022. In 2021, newcomers Breelyn Clark and Mallory Brown won the CIAA Setter of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year awards respectively with 4 players making First Team All Conference. This past season, Breelyn Clark repeated as the CIAA Setter of the Year and Noelani Beard earned CIAA Offensive Player of the Year while 5 other Shaw players earned First, Second, or Rookie All Conference nods. JP has a 58-24 win-loss record while at Shaw.
JP comes to Shaw after a year at Louisburg College. While at Louisburg, JP led the hurricane’s volleyball team to a 4th place finish in Region X volleyball and a tournament berth, the highest ranking Louisburg had accomplished in more than a decade. In addition to his volleyball duties at Louisburg, JP was the Sports Information Director and maintained the athletics website.
Prior to Louisburg, he served as an Assistant Coach at North Carolina Central University where his primary on-court responsibilities included training the outside hitters and focusing on offensive scheme and blocking structure. Off the court JP was a primary recruiter, scouted opponents, and arranged video exchange.
JP started his coaching career in the club world back in 2013 and spent the 2017-2022 years growing Carolina Edge. The club started off with 4 teams in its first season and steadily grew to having 11 teams in 21/22. Prior to Edge, JP had a three year stint as head coach of 18 Diamond, 15 Diamond, and 16 Crystal at NC Academy while assisting 16 Diamond and 17 Crystal.
Paulk is a graduate of NC State with a BS in Accounting. While at State, he was the president of the Men’s Club Volleyball Team and was voted team mvp and selected honorable mention to the NCVF National Tournament Team as a setter.
JP won the 2016 Collegiate Beach National Championships in Santa Monica, California and earned his AA rating with a win the following day in a CBVA adult tournament.
JP is a true believer in pushing players to learn higher level technique and tactics at younger ages. He wants to expose athletes to systems and tactics that push them to grow intellectually and creatively within volleyball. JP strives to maintain a high-intensity and competition filled practice every time he steps on the court.