It came as a surprising shock for the Coyotes as University of South Dakota Women’s Volleyball head coach Matt Houk resigned from USD to take an assistant coaching job at the University of Minnesota.
The coaching job was not expected from Houk either, the opportunity arose and he chose to take it.
“It was no plan at all, the opportunity was presented, we evaluated it and decided it was a good move,” Houk said.
Houk spent six years as the head coach with the Coyotes and finished his career with a 97-85 record. Houk leaves USD with the best winning percentage at .533 and the second most wins by a coach in the program’s history.
With Houk’s resignation, the Coyotes announced associate head coach Leanne Williamson as the interim head coach until a new head coach is named.
Junior outside hitter Kendall Kritenbrink said it was a great move for Houk and his family and that she does not blame him for leaving, but it was tough to see him go.
“He helped me through a lot of situations on and off the court so it is hard to see him go,” Kritenbrink said.
Athletic Director David Herbster said the resignation of Coach Houk came as a complete surprise to him as he resigned USD’s during spring break.
“Things happened fast, he called me and he contacted all his players individually and when he the girls came back from spring break he had the chance to talk to the girls,” Herbster said. “I met with the team and then he was able to meet with the team as well.”
Herbster also said the search for a new head coach comes at an odd time in the year and typically people are committed to their current programs.
“Much like the basketball search, be quick, but do not hurry, make sure we get the best possible person that is going to be the right fit for South Dakota and really to pick up where Matt left off,” Herbster said.
Herbster hopes the Coyotes continue their growth next year after staying undefeated at home this past season as well as winning a tournament and having one of the highest RPIs in the Summit League.
“I want to have Kendall Kritenbrink have one amazing senior year and the rest of this team to have an amazing year and I think they can do it. I think the pieces are in place, now it’s just a matter of getting that coach, that system and that fit,” Herbster said.
He also stated he wants to see the team win the Summit League Tournament and make it to the NCAA Tournament.
Kritenbrink said she is also excited to see where the team goes next year.
“This whole coaching situation makes me a little nervous, but I am excited to see what is going to happen to the program,” Kritenbrink said. “We have some really great team chemistry and have been together since last summer, we only are really losing Tori Kroll in the starting lineup and I’m sad to see her and the other seniors go.”
Photo: Former head volleyball coach Matt Houk coaches from the sidelines of a volleyball match Nov. 3 in the DakotaDome. Houk recently left his position to be the new assistant coach at Minnesota. (File photo)