In 15 seasons as the leader of the Yale volleyball program, Erin Appleman has taken the Bulldogs to new heights and established herself as one of the most accomplished volleyball coaches in Ivy League history.
Appleman has guided the Bulldogs to a record-setting five straight Ivy League championships and eight total conference titles (2004, 2008, 2010-2014, 2017), six NCAA Tournament appearances (2004, 2008, 2011-2014), four 20-plus win seasons (2005, 2008, 2009, 2013) and became the first coach in conference history to win an NCAA match -- a feat she has accomplished twice (2004 and 2008). Appleman earned AVCA Regional Coach of the Year following the 2004 season.
A national champion prior to arriving at Yale, Appleman spent eight years as an assistant at Penn State. Appleman assisted legendary head coach Russ Rose and helped lead the Nittany Lions to the 1999 National Championship and five Final Fours.
Appleman has built a winning tradition at Yale. At the helm of the Bulldogs, Appleman has produced the best winning percentage -- .722 -- in program history with an overall record of 270-104 entering the 2018 season.
During the 2013 season, Yale won its 23rd straight league match, the most in Ivy League women's volleyball history. Yale's streak between losses lasted from Nov. 12, 2011 to Nov. 2, 2013. Appleman in 2013 also won her 200th career match at Yale on Nov. 15 at Princeton. In the NCAAs that same year, the Bulldogs dropped a hard-fought 3-1 decision to Utah of the Pac-12. Yale took the first set and nearly won the third.
Under Appleman, the Bulldogs have the best record in the Ivy League over the last 15 seasons. She has a conference record of 167-43 and a winning percentage of .795. From 2011-2014, the Bulldogs completed the winningest four-year run of any Ivy League team with a conference record of 51-5, surpassing their previous best mark set in 2013.
The Bulldogs have ranked among the nation’s dig leaders under Appleman. In 2010, the Bulldogs led the nation and at that time amassed the second-highest digs per set average (19.34) in NCAA history since it to the 25-point scoring format. Yale surpassed that mark in 2012 with a 19.72 average.
In 2012, the Bulldogs won their third straight Ivy League Championship and became the second team in conference history to complete a 14-0 conference season.
The Bulldogs have also established a formidable home court advantage within the conference. Yale won 36 straight Ivy League home matches from 2009 to 2014.
Ivy League Regular Season Records During Appleman’s Tenure at Yale (2003-2017)
Yale - 167-43
Princeton - 151-59
Penn - 123-87
Harvard - 102-108
The Bulldogs have finished in first or second place in each of the last 14 Ivy League seasons, and have won at least 10 matches in all but one of those years. Appleman won her 100th Ivy League match on Sept. 28, 2012 at Cornell.
Outside of the Ivy League, Appleman has led the Bulldogs against challenging non-conference schedules that include perennial national powers and nationally ranked teams. Under Appleman, the Bulldogs have competed against some of the top programs in the country -- including Penn State, USC, Stanford, UCLA, California, and Florida.
In 2013, the Bulldogs played inside the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and faced Stanford, Air Force and Army.
Appleman has also brought the national competition to New Haven. During Appleman’s tenure, Yale has hosted Penn State, Stanford, Texas A&M, Missouri, Northwestern, Minnesota, Utah, Colorado and Clemson.
The Bulldogs hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in 2004. A sold-out John J. Lee Amphitheater watched the Bulldogs defeat Albany, 3-1, for the first NCAA Tournament victory for an Ivy League school before falling to Minnesota in the second round.
Appleman’s Yale teams have made numerous trips to the West Coast, most recently in 2017 for the UC Santa Barbara tournament. Yale has also played at tournaments hosted by Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, University of San Francisco and the University of San Diego.
With Appleman at the helm, Yale has also excelled individually. Since 2003, the Yale program has produced five Ivy League Player of the Year selections, six Ivy League Rookies of the Year, an Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, 30 All-Ivy First Team awards and 62 total All-Ivy honorees.
In 2014, the Bulldogs captured the eighth Ivy League title in program history after a 3-0 victory in a one-match conference playoff at Harvard. Yale won 13 of its final 14 matches prior to competing in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs traveled to Tuscon, Ariz., and faced Arizona in a first-round match.
In 2013, Yale’s Kendall Polan became the first player in Ivy League volleyball history to win the conference’s player of the year award three times. The previous season, Polan became the first Yale player to win back-to-back Ivy League Player of the Year awards, and only the sixth player in conference history to win the award twice. That same season, Kelly Johnson became the third straight Bulldog to win Ivy League Rookie of the Year, following Mollie Rogers (2011) and Polan (2010).
Yale’s Individual Honors Under Appleman (2003-2017)
Three Ivy League Players of the Year
Six Ivy League Rookies of the Year
Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year
First Team All-Ivy Selections
Second Team All-Ivy
Honorable Mention All-Ivy
“Yale is a tremendous place to coach because of the personal makeup of our players -- the student-athletes on our team know what it means to compete and set high goals or else they wouldn’t be here,” Appleman said. “Our players are dedicated and committed to each other and, because they love this institution, I have no doubt we will play to our potential and improve as a team every single year.”
In 2011, Appleman guided the Bulldogs to their second straight Ivy League title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Yale won 18 games and had the league's Player (Kendall Polan) and Rookie (Mollie Rogers) of the Year. The Bulldogs’ season culminated with a NCAA Tournament first-round match in Los Angeles, Calif., against then No.1-ranked USC. Hundreds of Yale supporters cheered on the Bulldogs against the Trojans.
In 2010, the Bulldogs finished with a 12-2 conference mark and tied for first place in the Ivy League standings. At one point during the season, the Bulldogs won 10 straight Ivy matches and forced a one-match playoff against Penn. Despite dropping a five-setter to Penn, five Yale players earned all-Ivy status, including Kendall Polan, who earned conference rookie of the year honors.
Appleman led Yale to a 21-4 mark in 2009, the best record in program history and the first time the Bulldogs posted back-to-back 20-win seasons since 1995-96. The 2009 Yale team produced five All-Ivy players, including first team honorees Alexis Crusey and Cat Dailey, en route to claiming second place in the Ivy League at 11-3.
In 2008, the Bulldogs went 21-6 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Cat Dailey became Yale’s first Ivy Player of the Year since 1997 to help lead Yale to a conference title and an Ivy mark of 13-1. The Bulldogs defeated Ohio in the first round of the NCAAs before falling to Penn State in the second.
“Our volleyball team is surrounded by loyal supporters throughout the campus -- the chemistry between the athletic and academic departments is positive, and our administrative staff encourages our players and coaches to maintain high standards,” she said. “Volleyball at Yale plays a vital role in the development of the total person, and we continually emphasize to our players the importance of positive energy, pride and commitment.”
Prior to Yale, Appleman spent eight years as an assistant coach at Penn State. During her tenure, the Nittany Lions reached the NCAA Final Four five times (1993-94, 1997-99) and won five Big Ten championships. In addition, she served as an assistant coach for the USA Junior and Youth National Team from 1994-94. Prior to Penn State, Appleman served as an assistant coach at Cal State-Northridge and the University of San Diego.
Appleman is a 1990 graduate of San Diego State, where she served as volleyball captain and was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player in 1989. Despite playing just two seasons for the Aztecs, she currently sits fourth on the university’s all-time list with 3,144 career assists. Before transferring to San Diego State, she competed for two years at United States International University. In addition, she was a member of the Asics Tiger Junior Volleyball Club for six years and was selected as MVP at the Junior National Tournament in 1985, when her team won the title.
Her husband, Christian Appleman, is the assistant coach for the Yale men’s tennis team and the director of tennis operations at the university’s Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center. They have two children: Justin, 16, and Emma, 14.