In his first five seasons as head coach at Kennesaw State, Keith Schunzel has elevated the volleyball program in every aspect on and off the court.
The Owls won their first ASUN Championship to go to the NCAA Tournament during the 2017 season. In all, the Owls finished the season 21-5. Kennesaw State went 13-1 in ASUN play to claim their second regular season title in a row.
There were seven seniors on the team that finished their careers out in style leading Kennesaw State to its first NCAA Tournament in program history. Through the four years, they finished with a record of 68-44, won two regular season championships, the programs first ASUN Championship and guided the team to its first NCAA Tournament.
Through all of the success, the players were honored with plenty of post-season awards with setter Kristi Piedimonte leading the way. Her senior season she was named ASUN Setter of the Year, ASUN Scholar of the Year and became the first Kennesaw State student-athlete to be named CoSIDA First Team Academic All-American.
Anaiah Boyer capped a tremendous career by being named ASUN Tournament MVP and becoming the first KSU player to be named ASUN First Team All-Conference three times.
Those weren’t the only firsts either as junior middle blocker Liesl Engelbrecht became the first Kennesaw State volleyball player to be named to the AVCA South All-Region Team.
The Owls were building to the 2017 season after making it to the ASUN Championship game and winning 19 matches in 2015 and winning the programs first regular season ASUN Championship in 2016.
In KSU’s 11 year history, seven players have been named ASUN First-Team All-Conference and five of those have been Schunzel recruits.
In 2016, the Owls enjoyed their longest winning streak ever at 12 matches and only lost three times after September 9.
The success in 2016 was set up by the 2015 season in which Schunzel led a team with nine underclassmen to a 19-9 record and making it to KSU’s first ever ASUN Championship game. They also conquered the state of Georgia going undefeated against the five teams they played from instate beating Savannah State, Georgia Southern, Mercer, Georgia State and Georgia Tech.
Schunzel was voted ASUN Coach of the Year after leading the program to its most wins in school history and finishing the second half of ASUN play at 7-1.
His overall record is 60-56 in four seasons, but the Owls are 37-20 in the last two to go along with a regular season ASUN title and an ASUN Tournament Championship appearance.
Through the four years, the Owls have signed two Under Armor High School All-Americans with Katarina Morton and most recently Quin Sutphin.
The players have also taken tremendous strides once they get on campus. Anaiah Boyer’s game continues to reach new heights finishing with a career high 376 kills in 2016 and became the first KSU player to be named ASUN First Team All-Conference for the second time. Setter Kristi Piedimonte has improved every year as this year, she posted her highest assist total with 1,155 and setting a new school record averaging 10.50 assists per set.
In Schunzel’s first season, Kelly Marcinek became his first signee and after a monster freshman season became the first Owl to win ASUN Freshman of the Year. Marcinek, who was also a unanimous selection on the A-Sun All-Freshmen Team, leading the Owls in kills with 402 while putting up a hitting percentage of .215.
The Owls have not only been really good in the court, but also great in the classroom. Piedimonte has been named to the CoSIDA Academic All District team two seasons in a row along with unanimously landing on the ASUN All-Academic Team the past two seasons. As a team, the Owls have maintained over a 3.0 GPA every year under Schunzel.
One of the top up and coming talents in the volleyball community, Schunzel came to Kennesaw State from the University of Kentucky where he spent the past two seasons as the Wildcats’ lead assistant under head coach Craig Skinner.
While at Kentucky, Schunzel helped lead the Wildcats to a 50-17 record in two seasons, including a pair NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 showings. He served as the offensive coordinator while working primarily with the team’s setters, helping boost the UK offense to one of the best in the nation during his tenure.
Schunzel also worked as the team’s liaison to the compliance department as well as overseeing scheduling, planning practices and opponent scouting.
During the 2012 season, the Wildcats compiled a 22-11 overall and recorded NCAA Tournament victories over East Tennessee State and Ohio State before falling to Penn State in the third round. Kentucky concluded the year ranked No. 20 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) final poll.
“Kennesaw State hit a home run in hiring Keith,” Skinner said. “He has an unbelievable IQ and passion for the game that will inevitably lead the program to new heights. His work ethic is outstanding, and he will be a great example for the team to follow. We are excited for Keith and his family to begin this new chapter in their lives.”
Prior to his time in Lexington, Ky., Schunzel spent one year as the first assistant at the University of North Texas, following a two-year stretch at Indiana University. While with the Mean Green, Schunzel helped guide North Texas to one of its best season’s in recent memory, earning a 20-win season and a trip to the second round in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
During his time in Bloomington, Ind., Schunzel’s recruiting class was ranked No. 22 nationally by PrepVolleyball.com. He helped the IU setters rack up 1,506 assists as the Hoosiers recorded their first winning campaign in eight seasons.
Schunzel began his coaching career at Purdue University in March of 2005, helping lead the Boilermakers to a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 and a 25-9 record. Schunzel’s main responsibilities were scouting Purdue’s opponents and managing the team’s blockers during matches.
Schunzel left Purdue for Valparaiso University where he helped guide the Crusaders to a 44-24 overall record and a pair of Horizon League Championship finals in two seasons.
The St. Louis, Mo., native began his volleyball career as a player at both the collegiate and professional level, starting in 1999 as a four-year starter at Ball State University. The three-year team captain brought the Cardinals to the 2004 NCAA Final Four and a Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) Championship.
Individually, the four-year starting setter earned second team All-America honors in 2004 and honorable mention recognition in 2003. Shunzel was a four-time All-MIVA honoree, garnering first team honors 2002 through 2004 and honorable mention in 2001. He also was named to the MIVA All-Academic team four times.
After graduation, Schunzel played professionally with Germany’s VfB Friedrichshafen Volleyball Club in 2004 and 2005.
Keeping with the volleyball theme, Schunzel’s wife, Briana, was the 2004 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year while a setter at Ohio University. The couple has two sons named Griffin and Grady.