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Kritza Adds Pac-12 Powers to Staff

Feb 8, 2012

BOULDER - University of Colorado volleyball coach Liz Kritza has announced the hiring of J.T. Wenger and Kristee Porter to her staff as assistant coaches. Both Wenger and Porter were standout volleyball players at UCLA, and are very familiar with success in the Pac-12.

"As we look to continue building this program, who we surround our student-athletes with everyday is paramount to their success," Kritza said. "We have the rare opportunity to bring in two assistants, both with a complete understanding of what it takes to orchestrate a championship level program. Coupled with an insatiable desire for excellence, both J.T. and Kristee are an excellent fit for us, and we believe great things will happen here. They are positive and insightful teachers of this game who will help me lead the young women in our program to success. "

Wenger has an extensive volleyball background as a player and coach and joins the CU program after six seasons with the UCLA men's volleyball team.

"I'm excited to be part of the Buffalo family and to be part of a national recognized university, as well as competing in the Pac-12," Wenger said. "Coach Kritza has done some great work at Colorado and has gotten the program pointed in the right direction. I hope I can help continue to move the program in a positive direction as it competes in the most elite conference in the country."

While coaching at UCLA he served as an assistant under legendary men's coach Al Scates, who is in his 50th and final season. Scates has compiled a 1,228-283 (.813) record and is the winningest coach in Division I volleyball history. He has directed the Bruins to 19 NCAA Championships. This season the team, currently holding the No. 1 ranking in the nation, has recorded an 11-1 record and is a perfect 6-0 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. Under Wegner's tutelage, numerous players have garnered national recognition including MPSF All-League and All-Academic, as well as AVCA All-American honors.

"JT is one of the up and coming coaches in the nation," Scates said. "He is definitely going to be a great coach. The coaches that have had his position [at UCLA] have gone on to win three national championships the last six years. JT took over for Mike Sealy, who just won a national championship with the women's team at UCLA, and Mike took over for John Speraw who won two titles with the UC Irvine men's program. JT is equally as gifted as those and he is going to have a great career."

The AVCA recognized Wenger twice as one of its 30 Under 30 coaching list, honoring him in 2009 and again in 2010. This award was created in 2009 to honor 30 of the up-and-coming volleyball coaches under 30 years old in the sport at all levels of the game.

Wenger has worked with USA Volleyball. In 2011 he was an assistant coach for the USA Men's World University Games. During the summer of 2009 he helped to coach the USA Men's Junior National Team at the World Championships. Wenger also coached with the USA High Performance program in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

Wenger has had success as a high school and club coach as well, guiding the Marymount High School girls' team to the 2011 California DI State Championship game and the 2002 California DIII State Championship. Wenger coached the Sunshine Volleyball Club 14's in 2003 and 2004 and the 16's in 2006.

Prior to coaching Wenger was a successful volleyball player. He earned three letters (2001, 2003 and 2004) with the Bruins. In each of those three seasons UCLA made the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins were the NCAA runner-up in 2001, made regionals in 2002 and were regional semifinalists in 2004. As a senior in 2004, he played in 28 matches and recorded 216 kills; helping the Bruins to a 24-6 record. Wenger graduated with a degree in political science in May of 2004 and was a 10-time member of the Director's Honor Roll.

"I'd like to thank Al Scates, Brian Rofer, and the UCLA athletic department for everything they have done for me since arriving on campus in 1999," Wenger said. "Al has been a terrific mentor, coach and friend. It was an honor to play for him and coach with him."

Wenger went on to play professionally after graduation for Corozal Plataneros in Corozal, Puerto Rico until June 2004, at which point he worked in the finance industry in Chicago before returning to volleyball at UCLA.

"In his experience as a player and then as a coach at one of the nation's elite programs, as well as coaching for USA Volleyball,  J.T. has great familiarity with effective methods for developing players," Kritza said. "His experience in both the men's' and women's' game, gives him a unique perspective.  He has exceptional knowledge of the game, and is a great tactician, trainer, and scout.  He has been a part of a championship program and understands what it takes to get there. Most importantly, he fits the culture of the program and demonstrates the same core values. He is dedicated to creating the top notch experience that the Colorado program strives to offer. "

Porter comes to CU after coaching three seasons at Navarro Junior College in Corsicana, Texas. Porter guided NJC to a 19-11 overall record in 2011. Porter also coached the Texas Image Volleyball Club's 15's Mizuno Elite team in Dallas Texas.

"I am so excited to be returning to the Pac-12," Porter said.  "It really feels like coming home. It felt right from the moment I stepped on campus at CU.  This is a conference that is always loaded with dynamic teams and I look forward to the challenge ahead." 

Porter enjoyed a prolific career as a four-time All-American (two-time AVCA and two-time Volleyball Magazine) at UCLA in volleyball, and was named the Volleyball Magazine National Player of the Year in 2000. Porter played in 110 matches (397 sets) and recorded 2,255 kills, 4,936 attacks, 1,119 digs, 270 blocks, 2,515 points and hit .281 for the Bruins. She is the UCLA career leader in kills, kills per set and attacks. Porter became the first Pac-10 player to record 2,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. Her digs total currently ranks 12th in school history. She helped the Bruins to four straight appearances in the NCAA tournament, advancing to the Elite Eight three times (1999-2001).

She earned numerous other honors while at UCLA. She was named the Pac-10 player of the week five times, the AVCA National Player of the Week (Oct. 18, 1998), earned three All-Pac-10 selections (1998-2000) and three AVCA All-Pacific Region honors (1998-2000). Porter was also named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year in 1998 and became the first freshman in school history to record 30 kills and 20 digs in a match. Porter had a career-best 38 kills and 24 digs in the match.

Porter played her collegiate career under Andy Banachowski, the winningest Division I women's volleyball coach and one of the most successful women's volleyball coaches of all-time. He coached for 43 years, all at UCLA, and accumulated a record of 1,106-301 (.786), which includes six national titles (including three NCAA Championships in 1984, 90 and 91).

"I think that Kristee's accomplishments as a student-athlete and a player at UCLA speak for themselves," Banachowski said. "She was one of the most, if not the most, dynamic player that we had in our program. Kristee has a tremendous personality that will serve her well in recruiting, and she has a wonderful temperament to be a great teacher and coach. Colorado is going to be very happy with its decision and I look forward to seeing her coaching abilities show in the Pac-12 Conference."

Not just a volleyball standout, Porter also competed for the Bruins in basketball and track and field. In 2001 she ranked second in the Pac-10 in rebounding (8.1 rpg), third in blocked shots (1.77 bpg) and 11th in scoring (13.0 ppg). Her 39 blocked shots that season ranks second all-time in Bruins' history. As a member of the track and field team she scored three times at the Pac-10 Outdoor Championships. In 1999 and 2001 she placed third in the triple jump and in 2000 she was sixth. Porter graduated with a bachelor's of art in history from UCLA.

Porter was a member of the USA Volleyball Women's National Team from 2001-2004. She played internationally for Gigantes De Carolina, a professional team in Carolina, Puerto Rico, from 2002-2009. Porter was named the league's MVP in 2003 and 2004, and helped the team win the league five straight years (2003-08). She also played for Bargas De Toledo in Toledo, Spain in 2005.

"Kristee's success on the volleyball court sets her apart as one of the truly great female players of her generation," Kritza said. "She is a phenomenal role model for our young players, as she is competitive and driven to success through the pursuit of excellence. Kristee is an accomplished athlete who, after her time with U.S. National Team and her professional playing career, returned home to turn her focus to teaching the game and mentoring young women to great success. She is an intelligent woman who understands what it takes to be a champion, on both the collegiate and professional levels, and is genuinely interested in helping her players achieve greatness. Her dynamic personality and solid work ethic in the training gym and out in the recruiting trail will greatly enhance the experience for our current and future players."