WARRENSBURG, Mo. (KSNW) — Caitlin Peterson (formerly Pankratz) has been named the ninth head coach in Jennies volleyball history, vice president of intercollegiate athletics Jerry Hughes announced Wednesday, Jan. 12.
According to UCM Athletics, Peterson is a former University of Central Missouri (UCM) All-American, UCM Athletics and Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) Hall of Famer and is the current senior associate head coach.
Peterson, who was the senior associate, associate and assistant coach of the Jennies for the past nine seasons, replaces the 13th season and reigns MIAA and Central Region Coach of the Year Flip Piontek. He will switch roles with Peterson and serve as an assistant coach for the Jennies until June 30, when he retires. Peterson officially became the head coach on January 16.
“I want to thank Flip for his outstanding 36 years with the Jennies volleyball program as head and assistant coach,” said Hughes. “His track record speaks for itself and he has continued the championship tradition of Central Missouri Jennies volleyball.”
Peterson has played with the Central Missouri volleyball program as a coach and student athlete for 17 seasons.
“I am delighted to welcome Caitlin as the next head coach of Jennies volleyball,” said Hughes. “She has been an integral part of the Jennies volleyball program’s storied history as a student athlete and coach and will no doubt continue the celebrated history of success within the Central Missouri volleyball program.”
During her tenure as coach for UCM, the Jennies have captured five regular-season MIAA titles, three MIAA post-season tournament championships, and two National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II regional crowns.
“I am incredibly honored to be the next head coach of this historic program,” said Peterson. “Jennie’s volleyball has meant so much to me over the past two decades and I look forward to continuing the tradition built by Coach (Peggy) Martin, Flip and more than 50 years of Jennie’s volleyball alumni. I am excited about the current student-athletes we have and the future of UCM volleyball.”
Peterson has helped coach the Jennies setters to All-MIAA honors eight times, including All-MIAA First Team and All-American setters Julia Bates (2013) and Ally Offerdahl (2021). In all, Central Missouri has had 18 All-Americans since Peterson joined the coaching staff and 28 with her as a graduate assistant or full-time coach.
“With Caitlin here with her loyalty to the Jennies volleyball program, it was an easy decision for me to switch roles with her for a while to make the transition easier and then retire at the end of June,” said Piontek. “The most important thing to me is that she is the head coach. Her loyalty and dedication to the program make her the perfect person to become the next head volleyball coach for Central Missouri.”
Before becoming a full-time assistant coach for the Jennies in 2013 under Piontek, she spent the 2012 season as an assistant coach at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., where she worked under former Jennies Hall of Fame head coach Peggy Martin.
Inducted into the UCM Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019 and the MIAA Hall of Fame in 2020, Peterson led her teams to an overall record of 149-39 ahead of Martin from 2005-08 and Piontek in 2009. She was the starting line-up for four years. setter and a team captain for two, making the team win 81 percent of its matches.
The volleyball program’s 2009 conference championship was its first since 2000, but the Jennies earned bids in every NCAA postseason tournament during her career. Peterson recorded double assists in more than 35 games in each of her four seasons and collected 47 double-doubles in her career. She also handed out at least 30 assists in 129 games.
In 2009, Peterson finished a five-year career for the all-time No. 2 Jennies in assists with 5,502, the seventh-highest career score in MIAA history at the time. She was named AVCA All-American and First-Team All-MIAA that year after leading the Jens to the NCAA South Central Regional as the No. 1 seed and tournament host.
Peterson is still second all-time to UCM in assists and eighth in MIAA history.
The Buhler, Kansas native graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from UCM, with a GPA of 3.88. In the spring of 2012, she received her master’s degree in exercise science from Central Missouri.