Staff
Head Coach
MJ Engstrom

MJ Engstrom, a standout coach at the collegiate and national level, enters her ninth season as the coach at UAlbany and is a three-time America East Coach of the Year

Engstrom, who was appointed interim head women’s volleyball coach on March 5, 2008, was previously a head coach at Villanova and Nicholls State. She was elevated to interim coach from her role as a UAlbany assistant.

To date, Engstrom has posted an overall record of 138-96 and 80-16 in America East play over six seasons. Her time at the helm of UAlbany includes three America East Tournament titles and as many NCAA appearances as a head coach, making the America East Tournament all eight years with seven finals appearances.

At least one Great Dane has won an America East major award every year Engstrom has been a head coach. Engstrom has also coached the America East Defensive Specialist of the Year all eight years of her tenure at UAlbany. Engstrom has coached 16 America East major award winners.

UAlbany returned to the top of the America East mountain in 2015, sharing the regular season championship with New Hampshire at 11-1 in the America East. Engstrom and her staff were honored as the America East Coaching Staff of the Year for their efforts. UAlbany went 17-9 overall, including sharing the in-season tournament titles at the Golden Flashes Classic and the Colgate Classic plus reaching the America East title match. Laini Leindecker earned America East Co-Player of the Year while freshman Nicole Otero was selected as the America East Defensive Player of the Year, the eighth straight season a Great Dane earned that award. In addition, Leindecker, Tatum Jungsten and Mikala McCauley all were placed on the America East All-Conference First Team while Otero, an All-Rookie Team member, and Amanda Dolan got to the Second Team. UAlbany led the America East in opponent's hitting percentage, blocks and digs per set to stand as the top defensive team in the America East.

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Associate Head Coach
Josh Pickard

Josh Pickard, entering his second year with UAlbany, has been promoted to associate head coach of the team for the 2016 season.

Pickard has hired as the team’s first assistant for the 2015 season and will enter his second year with the Great Danes. In Pickard’s first year at UAlbany, he helped the Great Danes win a share of the 2015 America East regular season title and earn a place in the conference title match. UAlbany went 17-9 overall, its winningest season since 2011, with an 11-1 conference record.

Pickard comes to UAlbany after serving as the first assistant coach at Montana State the past three seasons as the recruiting and defensive coordinator. He coached four all-conference players and was responsible for the budgeting and team travel.

During the 2011 season, he served as an assistant coach at Ohio University. He coached three all-conference players as the Bobcats won 25 matches that season.

Previous to being an assistant coach, Pickard served as a travel coordinator and a national team coach at the Premier Volleyball Academy in Ohio from January 2007 to August 2011. He played on the men’s volleyball team at Michigan State, graduating in 2002 with a B.A. in international relations.

Assistant Coach
Traci Vandegrift

Former UAlbany standout outside hitter and graduate assistant manager Traci Vandegrift will begin her second year as an assistant coach for the Great Danes in 2016.

Vandegrift has been a part of the UAlbany volleyball team since the 2009 season, playing on the team from 2009 to 2012 and serving as the squad’s graduate assistant manager from 2013 to 2015. She was promoted to assistant coach starting in the 2015 season.

While a graduate assistant manager with the team, Vandegrift assisted with video breakdown, travel plans and community service projects with the team. She also served as the head coach of the Legion Volleyball Club in East Greenbush and formerly was a camp counselor for the UAlbany Volleyball Camp and Elite Sports Ohio.

As a Great Dane, Vandegrift served as a six rotation player, leading the Great Danes to a pair of America East titles in 2010 and 2011. In her career, she tallied 732 kills, 48 service aces, 653 digs and 219 total blocks, earning America East All-Conference Second Team honors in 2012.

She graduated from UAlbany as a double major in history and English in 2013, earning her Master’s Degree in 2015.