Legendary Volleyball Coach Matthies Retiring a Winner

Take a bow, Nina Matthies. You deserve it.

After 31 years of pacing the sidelines at Firestone Fieldhouse, where she coached in 372 matches and won 279 of them, Matthies walked off the Pepperdine volleyball court for the final time on Saturday afternoon as a winner. In front of dozens of Matthies’ family, friends and former players, the Pepperdine women’s volleyball team defeated rival Loyola Marymount in five games 28-30, 25-19, 25-19, 21-25, 15-11. 

Matthies, the winningest coach in the history of the West Coast Conference, announced her retirement from indoor volleyball last week. She will continue to coach the Waves’ sand volleyball team in the spring. 

“It’s been emotional all day with the last match at home for the seniors,” Matthies said after the exhilarating 3-2 victory. “The girls played well today. Having this win on Senior Day is special. I will take the win any way we can get it.” 

Pepperdine (14-10, 8-8) was led by senior Kelley Larsen, who recorded 20 kills, and sophomore Becca Strehlow, with 49 assists, to pull out the win. 

Prior to the match, Larsen and fellow senior Kellie Woolever were recognized for their contributions to the Waves volleyball program. Moments later, the university honored Matthies for her dedication, commitment and service to the school over a period that spanned from 1983 through 2013. 


With her husband, Dan, and son, Marty, looking on, an inspiring and emotional video tribute played. Pepperdine Director of Athletics Steve Potts presented a framed picture featuring each of the 31 teams coached by Matthies, who received a standing ovation. 

“I want to sincerely thank Nina for her commitment, dedication and sacrifice in building a championship women’s volleyball program for Pepperdine,” Potts said. “She has served as a role model, and transformed the lives of countless young women for over 30 years. Nina’s impact and influence will be felt for many generations to come.” 

Matthies, a Malibu resident, led Pepperdine to 11 West Coast Conference titles, the most recent coming in 2011 when the Waves reached the NCAA regional finals in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is the WCC’s all-time winningest coach with a career record of 589-342 (through Nov. 16) and a conference mark of 317-89. 

Matthies has been named the WCC Coach of the Year on seven occasions and co-coach of the year an additional three times. She was inducted into the Pepperdine Athletics Hall of Fame this past October. 

Matthies said she felt comfortable with the choice to step away, saying it was “the right time.” 

“I’m doing pretty well. I’m happy with my decision,” Matthies said. “But everyone else is nervous for me. But I’m good. It’s been on our (family’s) minds. I wanted to try something different in life. After spending 45 years with indoor volleyball, I would like to pull away a little bit and do some other things.” 

The longtime maestro of Pepperdine women’s volleyball left an indelible effect on many ladies who have played for the Waves. Matthies produced nine All- Americans and 64 WCC first-team recipients. 

In addition to Matthies’ on-court tutelage, many players who came through the program referred to as a “second mother.” They marveled at her ability to get the most out of her athletes, while also molding them into fine young women who represented Pepperdine with integrity and good character. 

“She is everything. We owe her so much,” Woolever said. “Luckily I get to play for her for two more years (sand volleyball) so I don’t have to say goodbye yet.” 

On the sand, Matthies is equally renowned. A member of the Beach Volleyball Hall of Fame as a player, in the mid-80s Matthies helped found the Women’s Professional Volleyball Association. Volleyball Magazine named Matthies as one of the “Most Influential People in the First 100 Years of Volleyball.” 

In 2012, Matthies led Pepperdine to its first-ever AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Championship and a runner-up finish a year ago. 

Barring a NCAA tournament berth this season, Pepperdine’s matches at San Francisco on Thursday and at Santa Clara on Saturday will be the final two contests in an illustrious career for one of the greatest indoor volleyball coaches ever to grace the court. 

After the Waves’ win against LMU, Matthies was serenaded with hugs, thank yous and well-wishes from family, loyal friends, administrators and the general Pepperdine community. 

“I couldn’t be happier. It’s awesome. It’s been a great day,” she said. “My career here at Pepperdine has meant so much. There have been so many great kids, so many great memories. It’s truly been a blessing to have been a part of all of their lives.” 

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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