SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Union Catholic's Nancy Saggio reached another magical milestone in her remarkable career on Friday night when she won the 500th match of her career as UC's head volleyball coach.
With a big and energetic home crowd, Coach Saggio guided the undefeated Vikings, ranked No. 2 in the state, to a 25-13, 25-12 victory over Union as UC improved its season record to 11-0. In the process,she raised her record at UC to an astonishing 500-131.
Now in her 26th season as head coach at UC, she has an overall career coaching record of 543-150. (She went 43-19 as head coach at Mt. St. Dominic from 1995-97.)
When senior Olivia Szyszkiewicz ended the second set with a kill to clinch the victory, a celebration immediately ensued on the court.
UC Principal Sister Percylee Hart, RSM, handed Coach Saggio flowers. There were hugs from just about everyone in the gym, along with balloons that read "500'' and confetti. The team presented the coach with a volleyball with all their names signed on it that read " 9.27.19, Union Catholic High School, 500 Wins, Coach Saggio." There was also a congratulatory cake.
"It's been a great 26 seasons,'' said Coach Saggio, whose team will clash with No. 1 ranked Immaculate Heart Academy on Saturday in a quad meet at Cherry Hill East. "I am so happy to have coached so many special and wonderful student athletes.''
Saggio, a 1988 graduate of Union Catholic who played volleyball at UC and Caldwell College, took over the program at Union Catholic in 1995 from John Ferguson, who was Saggio's coach when she played at UC. Since then, she has built the Vikings into a perennial state powerhouse.
A member of the Union Catholic Hall of Fame Class of 2012, Coach Saggio's teams have captured 20 conference titles, 12 Union County Championships, and one state title. Seventeen of her teams have been ranked in the state's Top 20. She has twice been named the State Coach of the Year.
Szyszkiewicz and her teammates felt honored to be on the team that gave Coach Saggio her 500th victory at UC, and they couldn't be happier for her.
"This so awesome,'' said Szyszkiewicz. "Coach Saggio has coached a lot of us for a lot of years, so we all know her on personal level as well as a on a coaching level. We all know how hard she works every day and this is a great accomplishment for her."
"We are all so proud of her. In every game we play, she always knows the right thing to say. She's a great person and a great coach. She's helped me become such a better player. I've transformed into a different player because of her. The fact that she played here and coming back to coach here and teaching here makes her such a vital part of Union Catholic.''