Lopez has been an assistant coach at NDSU the past two seasons. She replaces Kari Thompson, who is leaving to be the head volleyball coach at Southern Illinois.
“I am incredibly excited for Jen. She is most deserving of this opportunity,” Larsen said in a news release. “As one of the all-time great players to ever wear a Bison volleyball uniform, Jen exemplifies what it means to be a Bison. I am confident she will bring that same energy, enthusiasm and competitiveness to the sidelines as the interim head coach.”
Lopez was the Summit League setter of the year, player of the year and tournament MVP in 2011 as a senior for the Bison. She was a three-time All-Summit League selection, leading NDSU to four straight regular season league championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances from 2008-11.
Lopez returned to NDSU in April 2015 after spending the 2014 season as assistant coach at West Fargo Sheyenne High School and the 2013 season as head coach at Fargo Oak Grove. She has also been highly involved in area instructional camps and club volleyball.
“I am very excited for this new opportunity to develop and lead the volleyball program here at North Dakota State University,” Lopez said. “I want to extend my sincere gratitude to Matt Larsen, Todd Phelps, the entire athletic department, and Kari Thompson for their continued support and belief in me as a coach.
“We have a talented group of young women both on the court and in the classroom, and the time for us to work starts now.”
In January, Larsen said Thompson would most likely not have her contract renewed. She was under contract through the 2017 season.
“I’m grateful to North Dakota State for the opportunity they gave me to build the Bison program,” Thompson said in a Southern Illinois news release. “The success we achieved and the lessons I learned along the way will be invaluable as I begin an exciting new challenge at Southern Illinois.”
Lopez, from Glyndon, Minn., ranks among the NDSU all-time top 10 in total assists, assists per set and digs per set. She graduated from NDSU in 2014 with a degree in mathematics education and a minor in coaching.
A national search for a permanent replacement will start at the conclusion of the 2017 volleyball season.