|Matt Jennings Record at Michigan Tech|
|2012||12-19 (7-11 GLIAC)|
|2013||11-19 (7-11 GLIAC)|
|2014||11-16 (8-10 GLIAC)|
|2015||19-12 (10-8 GLIAC)|
|2016||16-15 (11-6 GLIAC)|
|2017||20-11 (12-4 GLIAC)|
|2018||23-7 (14-2 GLIAC)|
|Total||111-100 (69-52 GLIAC)|
In seven seasons as head volleyball coach, Matt Jennings has orchestrated an impressive rebuilding of the Michigan Tech volleyball program. Under Jennings, the Huskies have gone from the last place in the conference to nationally ranked and in the postseason. Jennings has coached the Huskies to back to NCAA tournament appearances in 2017 and 2018 and was named the GLIAC Coach of the Year following a breakthrough 2017 season.
Under Jennings’ leadership, Michigan Tech volleyball has established itself as a competitive presence in the midwest region and within the GLIAC conference. The Huskies are 37-12 (75%) in the GLIAC over the past three seasons, and 59-33 overall (67%). They’ve finished in second place in the conference standings two years in row and have advanced to the conference tournament each of the last four seasons, The Huskies have had the highest rated offense in the GLIAC the past two seasons and were ranked top ten nationally in assists per set, kills per set and hitting efficiency. In 2018 the Huskies were ranked #1 in the GLIAC in kills, kills per set, hitting percentage, points per set, assists per set, digs per set, and aces per set.
Jennings was named the seventh volleyball coach in Michigan Tech history on January 27, 2012, after serving as both a head and assistant coach, which most recently included a five-year stretch as an assistant and recruiting coordinator at the Division I level. Directly preceding his start at Tech, he served three seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh, formerly of the Big East, and current member of the ACC.
The 2018-19 Huskies continued to build on the positive momentum from the year before and delivered the best overall season since Jennings arrived in Houghton. Tech finished 23-7 overall and 14-2 in the GLIAC, making the season one of the strongest in program history. It marks the most wins in a season for the Huskies since 1996 and the second most in-conference victories ever.
Jennings led the Huskies to its second straight NCAA tournament in 2018 as the No. 5 seed in the regional tournament. Regionally ranked as high as No. 4, the Huskies cracked the AVCA Top 25 for the first time since 2009, spending a total of five weeks ranked either No. 24 or No. 25 and spending another six weeks receiving votes. A home sweep of Grand Valley in the GLIAC quarterfinals marked the second year in a row the Huskies advanced to the conference semifinal match.
Olivia Ghormley (Third Team) and Laura De Marchi (Honorable Mention) earned AVCA All American honors after having standout seasons in 2018. Ghormley earned her first All-GLIAC honors after leading the league in kills and points per set. Her 518 kills ranks fifth-most in program history and was good enough to be the first Husky to be named the GLIAC Attacker of the Year. De Marchi led the league in assists again as a sophomore and was named GLIAC Setter of the Year for the second straight season. In two seasons, De Marchi has earned All-American and All-Region recognition, two conference setter of the year awards, two first-team all-conference selections, and a conference freshman of the year award.
Three Huskies were named First Team All GLIAC, the highest season total in program history. Olivia Ghormley, Laura De Marchi, and Mariah Sherman were named first-team, the latter two for the second consecutive season. Sherman graduated ranked No. 6 in the record books for total career kills, one of only a half dozen with over 1,000.
Coach Jennings and the Huskies went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time together in 2017. They finished with a 12-4 record in conference play and a 20-11 record overall. They beat No. 6 seed Tiffin at home in the first round of the GLIAC tournament and then knocked out Northern Michigan in the semifinals to advance to the conference championship match for the third time in program history. They fell to Ferris State in the championship match in Big Rapids.
Freshman Laura DeMarchi was named the program’s first-ever GLIAC Setter of the Year. She was also voted GLIAC Freshman of the Year and All-GLIAC First Team. DeMarchi led the most productive offense in the GLIAC, which topped the league in hitting percentage (.236), assists per set (13.45) and kills per set (14.03). Junior Mariah Sherman was also named All-GLIAC First Team and Sophomore MacAuley Peterson was named All-GLIAC Second Team. Senior Elle Heinonen earned All-GLIAC Honorable Mention, finishing her career the all-time leader in digs per set.
2016-17 saw the Huskies finish 11-6 in conference play and in a tie for fourth place in the year-end standings. After playing one of the most difficult overall schedules in the country (No. 8 - NCAA.com), the Huskies found themselves in the Midwest Regional rankings for the first time in eight years, ending the season ranked No. 10. The 2016 campaign ended with a five-set loss in the GLIAC quarterfinal match at Saginaw Valley State, leaving the Huskies with an overall record of 16-15 on the year.
2015-16 was an important season for Jennings’ Huskies, one that included a school-record 10-match winning streak to begin the season and a spot in the GLIAC Tournament for the first time since 2009. The Huskies finished 19-12 overall and 10-8 in conference, finishing the regular season in a tie for seventh place and the No. 8 seed in the GLIAC tournament. Wins included the first road win over rival Northern Michigan in 23 years (3-0, September 29). Libero Jackie Aird (First Team All-GLIAC) became the first player in school history to record 500 or more digs in a single season, finishing with 529. She finished her career as the program's all-time leader in digs (1,882) and digs-per-set (4.44).
The 2014 season featured a roster of nine freshman and sophomores, four juniors, and no seniors. At 8-10 in GLIAC play and 11-16 overall, the Huskies were left out of the postseason by two wins. Half of their conference losses were in five sets. Lauren Emmert and Jackie Aird both were named all-conference.
In his first two seasons in Houghton, the new-look Huskies won more matches than the team had over the three seasons prior to his arrival combined. Having inherited a team that went 0-19 in conference play in 2011, Jennings directed a 7-11 GLIAC and 12-19 overall finish in 2012, the best single-year improvement in the league. In 2013, then-senior setter Maddie Haben was voted to the All-GLIAC Second Team.
Academically, the Tech volleyball team has continued to excel under the leadership of Jennings and his staff. During the 2017-18 school year, the team earned the national AVCA Academic Excellence Award for the sixth year in a row with a 3.5 team cumulative GPA. Most recently, the team earned a 3.45 during the fall 2018 semester and season. Over 55 Huskies have been named to the GLIAC Academic All-Excellence and All-Academic teams over the last seven seasons. Coach Jennings has graduated nearly all his players during his tenure at Tech, 98 percent of his graduates have finished with a 3.0 or higher.
Jennings is also an instructor for the Department of Kinesiology and Integrated Physiology. He is currently teaching Sports Psychology and has taught various co-curricular courses for the department. He currently represents the GLIAC on the NCAA Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) for the Midwest Region and is a member of the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
Before making the move to the U.P., Jennings served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh. He worked extensively with the outside hitters and the team’s backcourt, with a focus on serve receive and defensive systems. The Panthers compiled a 51-44 overall record during his three years there including a 20-win season in 2009 and an 18-win campaign in 2011. Pitt reached the conference postseason tournament all three seasons Jennings was there. In 2009, the Panthers entered the postseason with a 12-2 Big East record and in second place.
Jennings probably made his biggest mark at Pitt as the program's recruiting coordinator. While directing the program’s overall recruiting efforts, he orchestrated back-to-back nationally-ranked incoming classes in 2011 and 2012 (prepvolleyball.com). In those two years, Pitt landed four Illinois All-State selections, five high school All-Americans and four AAU National Champions thanks to Jennings’ recruiting. In his three seasons on staff, Pitt produced several highly decorated players, both athletically and academically, including: five AVCA All-American or All American Honorable Mention selections, six All-Big East selections, including the Big East Player of the Year and the Big East Libero of the Year, an ESPN Academic All-American and the 2009 Big East Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Since leaving Pitt to come to Tech, several of Jennings’ recruits have gone on to earn collegiate beach All-American honors, All Big East and All-ACC honors, and a stint with the US Collegiate National Team. Five players recruited to Pitt by Jennings played or are currently playing professionally in Europe.
While in Pittsburgh, Jennings also served as a head coach at the Pittsburgh Elite Volleyball Club for three seasons with the 18-premier and 17-premier teams.
Jennings worked for a season at DePaul University, in his hometown of Chicago, prior to heading to Pittsburgh. He was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator with the Blue Demons’. He spent the 2008 campaign as an assistant women’s coach at Eastern Kentucky, again as the program’s primary recruiter, with a focus on training the team’s backcourt and outsides.
Along with his time at the college and club levels, Jennings has been part of two international travel teams. In June of 2008, Jennings was selected to lead the USA Athletes International Men’s Team in the Scottish Open Volleyball Tournament in Perth, Scotland. Having never played before the trip, his team went on to win the tournament with an undefeated record and a victory over the Scottish National Team in the final match. In the summer of 2013, Jennings took a similar group to the Netherlands where he led the team to another tournament championship at the DKV Tournament in Groningen.
The Chicago native played men’s volleyball at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, from 2000-03. Jennings was a two-time team captain and a four-year starter for the Vikings; playing outside for three seasons and switching to setter for his sophomore season. He helped his team to four consecutive top ten finishes at the NIRSA national tournament, including a national third-place finish in 2002 and a spot on the national championship all-tournament team.
Jennings began his coaching career at NAIA member St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. From 2004-06, he served as the head men’s volleyball coach and head women’s junior varsity volleyball coach. He helped his men’s team to a conference runner-up finish and top-10 national ranking in 2005. With a 19-player recruiting class in 2006, Jennings set the team on a course that saw a once-struggling program reach the top tier of the NAIA. St. Ambrose has experienced a decade of winning since, including three national runner up finishes and conference championship.
Jennings earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and political science from Augustana College (Illinois) in 2003 and received his master of business administration (MBA) from St. Ambrose in 2006. He has spent time working in the financial industry as a credit manager for Wells Fargo and an associate business analyst for the Northern Trust Company in downtown Chicago.
Jennings and his wife, Mary, were married on July 11, 2015, in Copper Harbor, Michigan. Mary is the Programming Director at the Rozsa Center for Performing Arts at Michigan Tech and is an artistic collaborator with the university’s Visual and Performing Arts Department. She also is an experienced yoga instructor. They reside in Houghton together with their one-year-old son, Jack Henry and their dog, Jade.