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The When & Where

Emma Celentano

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Emma Celentano just finished her 4th season as head coach of the University of Mount Olive women’s volleyball team. She engineered an incredible turnaround, inheriting a team that had 8 consecutive losing seasons and immediately turning them into a winning program capped off with back to back 20+ win seasons.

In 2023, Celentano was awarded Conference Carolinas Coach of the Year for leading the Trojans to the top conference record of 14-3 and a regional ranking of 6th. She mentored libero Morgan Prots to a program first Defensive Player of the Year award, Karoline Cox to the First Team, and Ashlyn Stone to the Second Team.

In 2022, Celentano and the Trojans achieved a 23-9 overall record and went 15-2 in conference play. It was the program’s first 20+ win season in 17 years. Amara Eziakonwa was tabbed First Team All Conference for the second time.

2021 was Celentano’s first full season at Mt. Olive following the shortened Covid season and the team maintained the improvements shown in the shortened season finishing 15-14 overall and 9-8 in conference. Celentano guided Amara Eziakonwa to the First Team All Conference as a middle blocker.

Coach Celentano’s first season at the helm moved into the spring of 2021 due to Covid restrictions and the team fired out of the gates to a 7-4 record, 6-3 in conference. An amazing change from a team that went 8-16, 4-12 in conference the season before Celentano took the reins.

Celentano came to UMO after 4 years with NCAA Division I North Carolina Central University as the associate head coach and assistant coach (elevated in 2019).

Celentano also co-founded Carolina Advantage Volleyball in 2022 where she is a Director of Training. She obtained her Bachelors in Exercise and Sport Science with a Sport Administration Minor from University of North Carolina and her Masters in Physical Education from North Carolina Central University.

Jonathan Paulk

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Jonathan Paulk, JP, is the head coach at Shaw University in downtown Raleigh. To find a game to go watch, click on the Shaw schedule here.

JP just finished his fourth season as the head women’s volleyball coach at Shaw University. He holds the highest win percentage in program history. Coach Paulk has been awarded an Atlantic Region Coach of the Year award and a CIAA Coach of the Year. His players have earned 7 CIAA Player of the Year awards, 14 CIAA All-First Team awards, 7 CIAA All-Second Team awards, and 3 CIAA All-Rookie Team awards.

This past season, Coach Paulk and the Bears made history being the first CIAA team to win the first round of the NCAA Tournament in the Atlantic Region, doing so in dramatic fashion with a reverse sweep of Wheeling University. That came on the heels of being named CIAA Champions with an impressive title run where the Bears outscored opponents by an average of 9 points per set. Paulk was the first CIAA coach to be named AVCA Atlantic Region Coach of the Year. He won CIAA Coach of the Year with a perfect 18-0 conference record that included 14 sweeps. The team maintained a regional ranking all year for the first time in CIAA history finishing 31-6 overall, the first 30 win season in conference history. This was Shaw’s 3rd consecutive season winning the regular season and claiming a division championship. Shaw led the nation in Aces per Set for the 3rd consecutive season, led the nation in Total Aces for the first time, finished 3rd in the nation in Opponent Hitting Percentage, and top 25 in the nation for Team Kills and Team Digs. The Lady Bears were picked in the preseason to finish 1st and did not disappoint with a perfect CIAA season record.

Paulk continued Shaw’s dominance in the CIAA Setter of the Year category with Lauren Janok. Janok was also named honorable mention for the AVCA All-Region Team. Jasmine Culp earned CIAA Rookie of the Year honors while Kamille’s Patrick led the conference in hitting percentage for the 2nd season in a row and was named CIAA All-First Team. Shaw had 3 players named to CIAA All-Second Team with Noelani Beard, Lillian Carlson, and Hailey Hopkins.

In 2022, Coach Paulk led Shaw to its second straight CIAA regular season championship while finishing the season ranked in the NCAA Atlantic Region for the first time. The Lady Bears clinched the Northern Division championship and a CIAA tournament runner-up finish with a 23-8 overall record and a 15-1 mark in the CIAA. The Lady Bears were picked in the preseason to finish 3rd but took home the top seed and repeated as the top serving team in the nation with 2.75 aces per set.

Paulk mentored Breelyn Clark to back-to-back CIAA Setter of the Year honors and Noelani Beard to CIAA Offensive Player of the Year honors. Clark, Beard, and Kamille Patrick all repeated as All-CIAA First Team Selections and newcomer Ilani Myers was selected All-CIAA first team right side and second team utility player. Mallory Brown and Cheyenne Hodges earned All-CIAA second team honors and Khamare Steppe was named to the  All-CIAA rookie team.

In the 2021 season, Paulk led a team that included only one returner to a regular-season championship, a Northern Division championship, and a CIAA Championship runner-up finish with an 18-6 overall record and a 15-1 mark in the CIAA. After a preseason ranking of 4th and not a single player on the Preseason All-Conference Team, Breelyn Clark, Mallory Brown, Noelani Beard, and Kamille Patrick were selected to the All-CIAA First Team. In addition, Clark and Brown were voted Setter of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year, respectively. Patrick was also selected to the CIAA All-Rookie Team. The Shaw volleyball team was the top serving team in the nation and led the nation in aces per set with 2.76.

During his first season at the helm in 2019, Paulk guided the Lady Bears to a CIAA Championship runner-up finish with a 17-10 overall record and a 16-2 mark in the CIAA.  Five Lady Bears were selected to the All-CIAA team, including CIAA Setter of the Year Jada Flowers. Amari Fletcher, Jailynn Butler, and Tyler Hunter were all chosen First Team All-CIAA while Karla Sosa was tabbed Second Team All-Conference. Additionally, Hunter led the nation in service aces per set (.60).

Paulk joined the Shaw athletics department after a year at the helm of the Louisburg College volleyball team. At Louisburg, he coached the team to an 8-4 region record and a 4th place region finish, up from 7th the year before. It was the highest finish in over a decade for the Hurricanes. Paulk mentored three all-region player selections while at Louisburg.

Prior to Louisburg, he spent two years as an assistant coach at North Carolina Central University. The Lady Eagles qualified for the MEAC conference tournament in back-to-back seasons that Paulk spent with the team.

Along with his collegiate coaching, Paulk is Co-Founder and Director of Training for Carolina Advantage Volleyball. He was also the coach for the N.C. State men’s club volleyball team in 2018, helping them to the gold bracket and a 9th place finish at the NCVF National Tournament.

Paulk’s playing career started at NC State where he became president of the men’s club volleyball team in 2014. He led the team to a 5th and 9th place finish at Nationals while garnering an All-Tournament award as a setter and Team MVP in 2015. Paulk led the team as an outside hitter in 2016.In addition to his indoor volleyball experience, Paulk trains athletes and competes in beach volleyball events. He won the NCSVA Collegiate Beach Volleyball National Championship in Hermosa, Ca, in 2016. While in California, Paulk also won a Huntington Beach adult tournament and earned his CBVA AA rating.

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.