WARRENSBURG, Mo. (KSNW) — Caitlin Peterson (formerly Pankratz) has been named the ninth head coach in Jennies volleyball history, vice president for 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 has served as the senior associate, associate, and assistant coach for the Jennies for the last nine seasons, replaces 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 will retire. Peterson officially became the head coach on Jan. 16.
“I’d like to thank Flip for his outstanding 36 years with the Jennies volleyball program as both a head and assistant coach,” Hughes said. “His track record speaks for itself, and he has continued the championship tradition of Central Missouri Jennies volleyball.”
Peterson has been with the Central Missouri volleyball program for a combined 17 seasons as both a coach and a student-athlete.
“I’m excited to welcome Caitlin as the next head coach of Jennies volleyball,” Hughes said. “She has been an integral part of the storied history of the Jennies volleyball program as both a student-athlete and coach and will without a doubt continue the celebrated history of success within the Central Missouri volleyball program.”
During her tenure as a coach for UCM, the Jennies have captured five MIAA regular-season titles, three MIAA postseason 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,” Peterson said. “Jennies 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 over 50 years of Jennies volleyball alumni. I’m excited about the current student-athletes we have and for 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 total, Central Missouri has had 18 All-Americans since Peterson joined the coaching staff and 28 with her as either a graduate assistant or full-time coach.
“Having Caitlin here with her loyalty to the Jennies volleyball program made it 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,” Piontek stated. “The most important part of it for me is her being the head coach. Her loyalty and commitment to the program makes her the perfect person to be the next head volleyball coach for Central Missouri.”
Prior to 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 a 149-39 overall record playing for Martin from 2005-08 and Piontek in 2009. She was the starting setter for four years and a team captain for two, helping the team win 81 percent of its matches.
The volleyball program’s 2009 conference championship was the first since 2000, but the Jennies earned a bid to every NCAA postseason tournament during her career. Peterson recorded double-figure assists in more than 35 games in each of her four seasons and collected 47 career double-doubles. She also dished out at least 30 assists in 129 matches.
In 2009, Peterson finished a five-year career for the Jennies ranked No. 2 all-time in assists with 5,502, the seventh-highest career mark in MIAA history at that time. She was named an AVCA All-American and First-Team All-MIAA that year after guiding the Jens to the NCAA South Central Regional as the No. 1 seed and host of the tournament.
Peterson is still second all-time at UCM in assists and is eighth in MIAA history.
The Buhler, Kansas native graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from UCM in 2009, holding a 3.88 GPA. She earned her master’s degree from Central Missouri in exercise science in the spring of 2012.