New head coach hopes to guide volleyball back to playoffs

SF State Gators volleyball head coach Matt Hoffman runs drills with the team in The Swamp on Thursday, April 7, 2016. Hoffman was announced as the new volleyball coach on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.

After enjoying a successful season with a playoff appearance, the Gators volleyball team will look to make it to the postseason in back-to-back years under the leadership of new head coach Matt Hoffman.

Hoffman, who was hired March 29, comes to SF State after spending three years as an assistant for the Wichita State Shockers, and brings with him 23 years of volleyball experience.

“It feels really special,” Hoffman said. “I’ve had the opportunity to learn under two great coaches, but you always have the itch to get back and run your own program.”

Hoffman spent three years as a volunteer assistant at Stanford University under John Dunning and three years as an assistant at Wichita State University under Chris Lamb.

During his time with Wichita State, he helped the Shockers go 77-24 while winning two Missouri Valley Conference titles and appearing in two NCAA tournaments.

Right now, the goal is to learn about the players and search for ones he believes will improve the team, according to Hoffman.

“We’re not going to make it to the championships this spring,” Hoffman said. “It’s all about getting on the same page and getting a little better each day.”

Hoffman already has a connection with SF State volleyball player Taylor Brownlee. Brownlee, an outside hitter, played at Wichita State from 2012 to 2013 before she transferred to SF State. She said via email that she is excited for the importunity to play for coach Hoffman again.

“(Hoffman) is the kind of coach who will spend hours trying to create a system or play based on the qualities that our team obtains,” Brownlee said.  “With him, it’s always focused on building what we have and finding new and innovative ways to get better. I think with this mentality from our coaching staff, our team will be not only successful within our conference but in post-season play as well.”

SF State Gators volleyball head coach Matt Hoffman runs drills with the team in The Swamp on Thursday, April 7, 2016. Hoffman was announced as the new volleyball coach on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.

SF State Gators volleyball head coach Matt Hoffman runs drills with the team in The Swamp on Thursday, April 7, 2016. Hoffman was announced as the new volleyball coach on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.

The team is practicing, but a lot of time is being spent on filling some of its voids. Number one on the list of priorities is adding defensive specialists – as of now there are none on the team.

He would also like to add some players at the setting and middle blocking positions, in order to give them time to learn under some of those older players.

Hoffman was one of 117 candidates for the job, but stood out with his track record of recruiting championship-caliber players and ensuring they perform in the classroom, according to Athletic Director Charles Guthrie.

“It is clear he has a deep knowledge, appreciation and love of the game,” Guthrie said in an email. “The characteristics that stood out as we got to know Matt were integrity, energy and passion, particularly as it relates to the student-athlete experience.”

Hoffman said the differences between being a head coach and an assistant are minimal. Assistant coaches are still heavily involved in the recruiting process, he said, so that’s something he’s accustomed to.

Prior to coaching at the collegiate level, Hoffman spent eight years as a girls’ varsity volleyball coach at various high schools in the South Bay, including a three-year stint with his alma matter, Homestead High School in Cupertino. He also spent five years as the head coach of the Vision Volleyball Club in Los Gatos.

Hoffman attended San Jose State, where he was a member of the men’s volleyball team and graduated with a degree in kinesiology.

The hire came just one month after former head coach Jill Muhe took a job at Colorado State University, Pueblo.

“I believe the SF State community will see our volleyball program reach new heights under (Hoffman’s) leadership,” Guthrie said.