Toni Elyea enters her fourth season as head coach of the women's volleyball program. She also serves as the assistant coach for the Crusaders men's program.
In her three seasons, Elyea has led Belmont Abbey to a 52-39 overall record and three straight Conference Carolinas postseason berths. In each of her seasons, the Crusaders have advanced further in the league tournament, including a championship appearance in 2017.
In the initial campaign, the Crusaders earned a No. 3 North seed with a 9-7 mark in league play, before falling the quarterfinal round of the postseason tournament. Last year, The Abbey earned a home quarterfinal game with a 19-13, 12-4 record and advanced to the league semifinals. She mentored outside hitter Hannah Schellenberg, who became the school's first All-America selection and a two-time conference Player of the Year pick. In addition, middle blocker Caitlin Hankins and setter Gabby Martinez each were second-team all-conference choices.
Elyea came to Belmont Abbey after working the past six seasons as the head coach at Saint Mary's College in South Bend, Ind., an all-women's college that competed at the NCAA Division III level. In 2009, her first season leading the Belles, she saw one of her players receive first team all-conference honors along with two Player of the Week selections. After bringing in a very strong first-year class in 2011, Elyea's team improved in nearly every statistical category.
The 2012 season was laden with success. The team captured the North Park Classic, then started league play 4-1, the best five-match record for a Saint Mary's volleyball team since joining the conference in 1997. The season ended with sophomore Kati Schneider garnering first team all-conference honors, making her the fifth player in program history to be named to the first team.
During the 2013 season, Schneider repeated as a first-team all-conference selection while Katie Hecklinski earned second-team accolades to give the team multiple all-conference student-athletes for the first time since 2008. As a team, the Belles finished fourth in the MIAA and earned a berth in the MIAA Tournament.
In 2014, the Belles posted a 15-13 record, their highest total since 2008 and had one all-conference honoree.
During Elyea's tenure, the Belles had five All-MIAA honorees. She saw multiple players achieve Player of the Week honors eight times and coached several athletes to all-tournament team awards. Moreover, Elyea's teams consistently had success in the classroom, including multiple AVCA Team GPA Awards.
A native of Pine River, Minnesota, Elyea is a graduate of Pine River-Backus High School. After a successful prep career in volleyball and softball, she went on to play collegiate volleyball and softball at Central Lakes College. During her time at Central Lakes, she was a defensive specialist for two state, regional, and national championship volleyball teams. She also was the starting catcher at Central Lakes where the team finished both seasons as state and regional champions as well as finishing seventh at the national championship in 2001.
From Central Lakes, she went on to earn her bachelor's degree in recreation and sport management from Saint Cloud State University in 2005.