Matt Sonnichsen, who is entering his eighth season at the helm of the Hurricane volleyball program, comes into each season with many hopes and dreams for Tulsa volleyball. Settling for nothing but the best from his team is the biggest expectation Sonnichsen upholds.
The win column has been the most visible improvement to the TU volleyball program since his arrival, but by no means the only area in which the team has progressed. Sonnichsen became only the second coach in school history to win 20 matches in a season as he guided the Golden Hurricane to a 20-13 record in 2000 and again in 2002.
Sonnichsen saw the Hurricane raise its hitting percentage, winning percentage, kills, attacks, assists, service aces, digs, blocks, kills per game, digs per game and assists per game marks during his first five seasons.
In addition, he witnessed his players earn AVCA Academic All-America honors as a team for five consecutive years (1999-2003). A total of 53 players have earned Western Athletic Conference All-Academic team honors.
Sonnichsen has an overall record of 98-102 at TU. He took a team that was 6-29 in 1997 to a team that went 11-16 in his first season of 1998. He began at the grass roots level, teaching his players the fundamentals of good, solid volleyball. He not only brought wins to the Hurricane, but also pride. During his seven seasons, his teams have established numerous school records. Among these records are: best start in school history (11-0 in 2000), team hitting percentage for a season (.225 in 2000) and a single match (.473 in 2005). In 2002, the Hurricane also set team records for service aces, total attacks and digs in a season, in addition to setting two more individual player season marks.
Prior to taking over the TU program, Sonnichsen's name was well known both nationally and internationally. If he was not known for winning two national championships as a member of the UCLA men's volleyball team, then maybe for playing on the U.S. National Team. If he was not known for playing professionally in Europe then it could have been for his strong reputation as a recruiter.
Upon his arrival, it was important for Sonnichsen to emphasize the direction he had planned for the future of the program he inherited. Sonnichsen implemented his system as well as instilled a new excitement and attitude among his players.
In hopes of making the community more aware of TU volleyball, Sonnichsen and his staff conducted several adult and junior camps, as well as coach's clinics throughout the year.
Sonnichsen became the fourth head coach of the Hurricane volleyball program on March 19, 1998. In six seasons, he has the best winning percentage of any other TU coach with a .490 percentage. He led the Hurricane to its first winning season in 20 years with a 20-13 record in 2000. It was also the most victories recorded by any Tulsa squad over the same period of time.
Prior to his appointment, Sonnichsen spent two years on the coaching staff at the University of Iowa. He served as co-head coach in 1997 and as an assistant coach the year before. Sonnichsen also coordinated and served as director of Iowa's volleyball camps and coaches clinics.
Previously, Sonnichsen was on the volleyball coaching staff at Clemson for one year and also served as a volunteer coach at Baylor University. At Clemson, Sonnichsen was credited with landing the school's best recruiting class while serving in his post as recruiting coordinator. After being a member of the U.S. National Team from 1990-91, Sonnichsen participated on the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) Pro Beach Tour for four years (1992-95). In 1994, he was a member of the Switzerland MTV Nafels Professional Volleyball team which was crowned Swiss Champions in 1994.
As a collegiate player, he was named the MVP of the 1989 NCAA Championship after his UCLA team defeated Stanford for the national title, as well as leading the Bruins to an NCAA Championship in 1987. In addition to being a three-time All-America setter, he was the recipient of the PAC-10 Medal of Achievement in 1989.
Sonnichsen, an avid Elvis Presley fan, earned his bachelor's degree in economics from UCLA in 1989. He married his high school sweetheart, the former Stacy Smith. The couple has one daughter, Jane.
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