John Dunning is no stranger to success. Few in the history of the sport can compete with the accomplishments of the Cardinal's decorated head coach. In 2015, Dunning, the four-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year and AVCA Hall of Famer, enters his 15th season at the helm of the Cardinal program. During his time on The Farm, he has helped Stanford further strengthen its hold as one of the premier collegiate volleyball programs in the nation.
Dunning has been in the spotlight of NCAA volleyball since he began his coaching career 30 years ago at Pacific. Since then, he has collected four national titles, matching former Cardinal coach Don Shaw for the second-most in NCAA history, and coached in more Division I national title matches (9) than anyone. He has taken all 30 teams he has coached to the NCAA Tournament and led 26 of those teams to an NCAA Regional. Dunning ranks among the top five coaches all-time with a .831 career winning percentage, and among the top 10 active coaches with 838 career wins. Entering the 2015 season, Dunning boasts an 838-171 career record, with a 401-69 (.853) mark at Stanford. In his 14 years on The Farm, Dunning has had 20 athletes earn 44 AVCA All-America honors and developed four AVCA National Players of the Year. His Stanford teams have also posted a 51-12 record in the NCAA Tournament, won eight Pac-12 titles (including seven of the past nine) and reached the national championship match in six of his 14 seasons as head coach.
Dunning took the reins of the Cardinal program in July 2001 and, in his very first year, coached Stanford to an unprecedented fifth NCAA Championship and ninth Pac-10 title. Dunning's squad swept previously unbeaten Long Beach State in the national title match and finished the year with a 33-2 mark, tying the school record for most wins in a single season. Dunning also became the first Division I head coach to win a national championship in his first season at two different schools (Pacific and Stanford). For his efforts, he was honored as the Pac-10 Coach of the Year as well as the AVCA National Coach of the Year. Dunning had two athletes named AVCA All-Americans, including National Player of the Year Logan Tom. Three players garnered first-team All-Pac-10 honors while one, Ogonna Nnamani, was tabbed Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and ASICS/Volleyball Magazine National Freshman of the Year.
In 2002, Stanford finished second nationally, battling its way back to the NCAA title match. That year, Dunning led the Cardinal to a 32-5 record and another NCAA Final Four appearance. The team finished as the NCAA runner-up, while three players were tabbed AVCA All-Americans and Tom repeated at the AVCA National Player of the Year. Nnamani was honored as an Academic All-American.
In 2003, Dunning led the Cardinal to a 25-7 overall record and its 23rd consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Nnamani was honored as an AVCA First-Team All-American while teammate Jennifer Harvey was a second-team selection. Newcomer Kristin Richards was tabbed Pac-10 Freshman of the Year as well as Volleyball Magazine's National Freshman of the Year.
In 2004, Stanford reached the national title match for the third time in four years, and once again, captured the NCAA crown with a three-game sweep of Minnesota. Dunning coached the Cardinal to a 30-6 overall record and the sixth national title in school history. Nnamani, Stanford's top player, gained AVCA All-America honors for a fourth-straight season. In addition, Nnamani was named the 2005 Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year (Honda-Broderick Cup), a 2005 NCAA Today's Top Eight Award recipient, the Pac-10 Player of the Year and received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. Richards was named a Volleyball Magazine First-Team All-American, and an all-conference first-team selection.
In 2005, Dunning led Stanford to a 26-6 record and a 25th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. He was also a recipient of the USA Volleyball All-Time Great Coach Award, presented each year by USA Volleyball, the national governing body of the sport, to recognize the all-time great coaches of volleyball.
After a one-year absence, Dunning led Stanford back to the NCAA title match in 2006. Under his guidance, Stanford posted a 30-4 record, claimed its first outright Pac-10 title since 2001 and made an NCAA Tournament run that culminated in its 16th trip to the Final Four. On October 20, 2006, Dunning earned his 600th win as a head coach against Oregon. A school-record four players earned AVCA All-America honors.
In 2007, Dunning continued to build on the tradition of success, leading his team back to the national championship match. Stanford repeated as the Pac-10 Champion for the first time in Dunning's tenure and, for his efforts, he was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year. Stanford went 32-3 on its way to a 17th NCAA Final Four appearance, and reached the national title match for the fifth time since Dunning took over the program. The Cardinal swept the postseason Pac-10 awards for the first time since 2001, with Alix Klineman earning Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors, Foluke Akinradewo being named Pac-10 Player of the Year and Dunning earning the distinction as the conference's top coach. For the second consecutive year, a school-record four Stanford players earned AVCA All-America honors. Klineman was named the Volleyball Magazine National Freshman of the Year, while Akinradewo was recognized as the AVCA National Player of the Year.
In 2008, Dunning posted a 31-4 record, led his team to the national championship match for the third year in a row and became the first coach in the sport's history to coach in nine NCAA title matches. The squad went 17-1 in conference play to secure its third consecutive Pac-10 Championship, establishing the most dominant title streak in nearly a decade. The Cardinal opened the NCAA Tournament with four consecutive sweeps for the first time since 1994, then became the first team in NCAA history to overcome an 0-2 deficit in an NCAA semifinal match. For his efforts, Dunning was named the Pac-10 Coach of the Year as well as the Pacific Region Coach of the Year. Three players - Akinradewo, Klineman and Cynthia Barboza - were named AVCA First-Team All-Americans, tying a school record for first-team representatives. Akinradewo was also named the Volleyball Magazine Co-National Player of the Year after shattering the NCAA's career hitting percentage record by more than 20 points.
In 2009, the Cardinal claimed its unprecedented 16th conference championship, including its fourth in a row. With a 23-8 overall record, Stanford appeared in its 29th consecutive NCAA Tournament, the longest streak in the nation. Four players earned AVCA All-America honors - Cassidy Lichtman (first team), Klineman (second team), Janet Okogbaa (second team) and Gabi Ailes (honorable mention). Additionally, Ailes and Klineman were tabbed Second Team All-Americans by Volleyball Magazine.
In 2010, Stanford continued its Pac-10 dominance, claiming a share of its fifth straight conference title. The Cardinal went 27-4 overall and continued its nation-leading streak with its 30th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Stanford reached the regional final for the seventh time in the past decade. Seniors Ailes, Klineman and Lichtman were all named AVCA and Volleyball Magazine All-Americans. Additionally, Klineman was tabbed the National Player of the Year by Volleyball Magazine, becoming Dunning's fourth national player of the year at Stanford.
In 2011, the Cardinal finished 22-8 overall and tied for fourth in the newly formed Pac-12 Conference. Stanford once again made the NCAA Tournament, marking its 31st straight postseason appearance. Sophomores Rachel Williams and Carly Wopat received AVCA All-America honorable mention accolades, while Wopat was also a Volleyball Magazine First Team All-American. At the conclusion of the 2011 season, Dunning was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame.
In 2012, Stanford returned to its familiar spot atop the Pac-12 Conference, capturing its sixth title in the past seven years. Led by its middle blockers Carly Wopat and Inky Ajanaku, who were both AVCA All-Americans, the Cardinal was nearly perfect in Pac-12 play with a 19-1 overall record, ultimately finishing the season 30-4 overall with a No. 4 national ranking. Joining Wopat and Ajanaku on the All-Pac-12 Team were freshmen Jordan Burgess and Brittany Howard. Junior Rachel Williams was an honorable mention pick, while Madi Bugg joined Ajanaku, Burgess and Howard on the All-Freshman Team.
In 2013, the Cardinal (27-6) again turned in another successful campaign which ended in the Lexington Regional final against eventual national champion Penn State. Stanford was the runner-up in the Pac-12 Conference with a 17-3 mark and had a program record five players earn AVCA All-America accolades. Senior Carly Wopat and sophomore Inky Ajanaku became the first pair of middle blockers from the same team to earn first team honors. Sophomore Madi Bugg, the Pac-12 Setter of the Year, was a second team pick, while junior libero Kyle Gilbert and sophomore outside hitter Jordan Burgess were tabbed honorable mention.
Last season, Stanford produced one of its best seasons in school history, finishing 33-2 overall (tying for the most wins in school history) and capturing its 19th conference title (16th in the Pac-12). The Cardinal made its nation-best 19th NCAA semifinal appearance and set a program record for consecutive wins to start the season with 28. Stanford also set a school record for AVCA All-Americans in a season. Juniors Inky Ajanaku, Madi Bugg and Jordan Burgess earned first team honors, while redshirt freshman Merete Lutz was named to the second team. Seniors Morgan Boukather and Kyle Gilbert were tabbed honorable mention. Additionally, Ajanaku was named the Volleyball Magazine National Player of the Year, marking the fourth Cardinal player earn the honor under Dunning.
Prior to coming to Stanford, Dunning spent 16 seasons as the head coach at Pacific. During his tenure in Stockton, he compiled an impressive 437-102 (.811) record, was named Big West Coach of the Year four times and led the Tigers to two NCAA Championships, an NCAA runner-up finish, five Big West Conference titles and 16 consecutive NCAA Tournament bids. An outstanding student and teacher of the game, 16 of his Tiger athletes were recognized on the national stage with a total of 29 All-America awards. In 2007, Dunning was inducted into the University of the Pacific Hall of Fame.
In 1985, Dunning stepped onto the Pacific campus, guided the team to a national title in his first year as a collegiate head coach and was named the Volleyball Monthly National Coach of the Year. The next year, 1986, he helped the squad repeat its landmark feat. Dunning's pair of titles with the volleyball program remain the only two national championships in any sport in Pacific's history.
Over his 16 seasons, Dunning led his teams to a combined 43-15 record in postseason action, an unmatched 10-1 record in Big West Conference Tournament play and a stellar 33-14 mark in the NCAA Tournament. Of the 16 squads coached by Dunning, 14 reached NCAA Regionals, advancing to the regional championship match seven times. Four of Dunning's squads reached the NCAA Final Four, including the two national championship teams, the 1990 national runner-up team and his 1999 squad that went 32-3.
In 2000, his final year with the program, Dunning earned Big West Coach of the Year honors for the second straight season, as the Tigers won a second consecutive Big West title. His squad posted a 28-4 overall record, reached a regional semifinal and had two players named All-Americans.
Prior to beginning his career at the collegiate level, Dunning made a name for himself as one of the country's top prep and junior club coaches. The founder of the Bay Club, a USAV Junior Club, he also spent nine successful years as the head coach at Sunnyvale's Fremont High School.
His teams at Fremont were among the top five in the state each of his last six years, also capturing eight league titles, six sectional crowns and one state championship. After being selected as the California Coaches Association Prep Coach of the Year in 1980, Dunning was a finalist for National High School Coach of the Year in 1984. His impressive 283-32 (.898) high school record makes him one of the most successful prep coaches in California history.
In 1980, he founded the Bay Club and built it into one of the country's most successful and well-managed junior programs in just four years. His team won the national championship in 1984.
With his accomplishments in club, high school and collegiate volleyball, Dunning is one of only two coaches to have captured national titles on three different levels.
Dunning has also spent time coaching at the national level. He was selected to coach the north squad at the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival and led the team to a gold medal. From 1993 to 1994, he served as President of the American Volleyball Coaches Association. He served the two previous years as the NCAA Division I representative to the AVCA Board of Directors, and has been a member of the AVCA Division I All-America Selection Committee many times. Dunning also served as interim athletic director at Pacific in 1999-2000. In May 2008, he was named to the USA Volleyball Board of Directors.
Dunning earned his bachelor of arts degree in mathematics and economics from San Diego State in 1973. He coached volleyball and taught mathematics at the high school level in the Bay Area from 1973 to 1984. He and his wife, Julie, have two daughters, Lauren and Lisa (husband Matt Dobbins), and two grandchildren, McKenzie and Cole.
Year-By-Year Career Record
John Dunning is the only Division I women’s volleyball coach to win an NCAA Championship as a first-year head coach at two different schools. In 1985 at Pacific, he became the first first-year coach in NCAA history to win a national title, and in 2001 he repeated the feat as a first-year head coach at Stanford.
Coach Dunning By The Numbers
4 NCAA Championships – Dunning is tied with former Stanford head coach Don Shaw for the second-most NCAA titles of any Division I head coach. He is one of two NCAA coaches to have won a title at two different schools.
9 NCAA Championship Matches – Dunning is the only coach in NCAA women’s volleyball history to have coached in nine national championship matches.
11 NCAA Final Four Appearances – Dunning has taken 11 of his teams to the Final Four, including seven of the 14 teams he has coached at Stanford.
26 NCAA Regional Appearances – Dunning’s teams have advanced to an NCAA Regional 15 of the last 17 seasons, and 26 times since 1985.
30 Consecutive NCAA Tournament Appearances – Dunning has taken his team to the NCAA Tournament in each one of his 30 seasons as a head coach.
84 NCAA Tournament Wins – Dunning boasts an 84-26 record in the NCAA Tournament, having won more than 75 percent of the postseason matches he has coached.
13 Conference Championships – Dunning has captured 13 conference titles, including eight in his 14 seasons in the Pac-12 Conference. He is the winningest active coach in the Pac-12 in terms of not only career winning percentage, but winning percentage in Pac-12 matches.
13 30-Win Seasons – Dunning’s teams have posted 30 or more wins 13 different times. In 2001 and 2014, his Cardinal squads' 33-win seasons matched a school record.
838 Career Wins – Dunning recorded his 800th career victory on Nov. 22, 2013. He is one of four active Division I coaches to have hit the 800-win milestone, standing fourth among active coaches in terms of career victories. In 2013, Dunning became the 11th Division I coach in NCAA history to reach 800 wins.
73 All-Americans – Dunning has coached 36 All-Americans to 73 total All-America awards in his 30 seasons as a head coach.
6 National Players of the Year – Since coming to The Farm in 2001, Dunning has produced six National Players of the Year for either the AVCA or Volleyball Magazine.