Hunt leaves Pepperdine men’s volleyball for Texas

Then Pepperdine men's volleyball coach David Hunt speaks at an NCAA tournament press conference earlier this month. Hunt stepped down as the Waves' coach to take a position at the University of Texas. Photo by Martin A. Folb.

The search is on for a new Pepperdine Waves men’s volleyball coach. 

David Hunt, the squad’s coach for the past five years, stepped down from the position on May 5, two days after Pepperdine’s season ended in the opening round of the NCAA Championships. 

He was announced as the new associate head coach of the Texas Longhorns women’s volleyball team on Monday. Three-time Olympic medalist Jordan Larson, who is also Hunt’s wife, was named as the Longhorns’ volunteer assistant coach. 

In a statement from the Austin university, Hunt said he and Larson are excited to get to Texas. 

“This is a program that I’ve watched from afar for a long time and I have seen the high-level athletes who have come through here,” he said. “This is a unique opportunity to work for a program that’s been the best in the country for the last 15 years and to do it with such great people is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Hunt coached Pepperdine to five consecutive winning seasons, multiple Mountain Pacific Sports Federation titles, and three consecutive NCAA tournaments during his stint on the Waves’ sideline. He succeeded legendary volleyball coach Marv Dunphy, his friend and mentor, as Pepperdine’s coach. 

Hunt, who first joined Pepperdine’s volleyball staff in 2007, said Dunphy, who retired in June 2017, always says that one of the great things about coaching is that you get to choose the people you go through life with.

“Pepperdine is a special place because it attracts great people,” Hunt said in a statement from Pepperdine last week. “In my 15 years here, I have developed deep, meaningful relationships that will last a lifetime. As I reflect back on my time at Pepperdine, I am filled with gratitude. I am extremely thankful that these athletes allowed me to coach them. They came to Pepperdine believing in Marv, me, and the program’s vision.” 

Pepperdine Director of Athletics Dr. Steve Potts is saddened that Hunt will no longer coach the university’s volleyball squad. 

“I believe David to be one of the best volleyball coaches in the country and want to offer our sincere thanks for his commitment and dedication to the continuing growth and success of Pepperdine men’s volleyball,” Potts said. “I wish, and expect, great success for David in all of his future coaching activities and beyond.”

Hunt coached Pepperdine to a 19-10 record this season. The squad won the MPSF Tournament title in April before being one of seven teams to qualify for the NCAA tournament. UCLA defeated Pepperdine 3-1 in the first round on May 3. 

Waves Middle blocker Austin Wilmot, a graduate student and All-American player, told The Malibu Times that doesn’t believe he would have reached an All-American level of play his three years at Pepperdine without Hunt.

“I will always appreciate David Hunt for taking a chance on me as an older transfer,” said Wilmot, who transferred to Pepperdine from UC Irvine in 2020. “He believed in me since day one, which definitely rubbed off on me.”

Wilmot said Hunt was a reserved coach that always had his players’ backs. 

“I responded to Hunt’s coaching style much more than my former coach as David was there to guide me every step of they way but not controlling your life and making you do too many things that you didn’t want to or made you feel uncomfortable,” he said.

Spencer Wickens, a graduate student that played outside hitter for Pepperdine this season, told The Times Hunt always emphasized the importance of team culture over competing.

“He wants to do things right while trying to help us become the best versions of ourselves,” said Wickens, also an All-American. “He’s supportive while also demanding, which I value highly.” 

Wickens is also grateful he had the chance to be coached by Hunt. 

“I’m going to miss how he structured the practices and how competitive they were,” he said. “It was a lot of fun playing for him and if I had the choice, I’d do it all over again.” 

In 2021, Hunt coached Pepperdine to a 13-7 record and appearances in the MPSF Tournament championship game and the opening round of the NCAA tournament. 

The Waves had an 8-6 record under Hunt in 2020 before the season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Pepperdine finished with a 23-7 in 2019. Hunt coached the team to a MPSF regular season championship and tournament championship. They also reached the semifinals of the NCAA tournament. 

In 2018, Hunt’s first season as head coach, the Waves finished with a 15-8 record.

Hunt initially joined Pepperdine’s volleyball staff as a video coordinator and volunteer assistant in December 2007. He became a full-time assistant in 2010 and then got the head coaching job a month after Dunphy retired. 

Hunt won MPSF Coach of Year twice and a total of 14 players reached AVCA All-American status under his coaching. Hunt was also The Malibu Times’ 2018 Sportsperson of the Year. 

Pepperdine is in the process of searching for a new volleyball coach now. 

Hunt said he didn’t know much when he first came to Pepperdine as a 21-year-old. 

“I am a better coach and person because of my experience here,” he said. “We have always strived to create a culture based on our core values. We wanted to bring in young men that were of the highest character, athletes that were driven to be the best version of themselves both on the court and in the classroom. I leave Pepperdine knowing that we have accomplished this. I will forever be thankful for those that invested in me over the years and I look forward to what’s ahead.”