MARYVILLE, Mo. – Northwest Missouri State Director of Athletics Wren Baker hasannounced that Jessica Rinehart has stepped down as head volleyball coach and named Amy Phelps interim head coach.

"Coach Rinehart has been a valuable member of the Bearcat family and we will miss having her at Northwest,” Baker said. “She has done a great job re-energizing the volleyball program and we wish her the very best in her future endeavors."

Rinehart, who is leaving to relocate closer to family, finished 29-32 in two seasons with the Bearcats and is 115-107 overall in her career as a head coach. In her first season at Northwest, she guided the Bearcats to their first ever NCAA tournament appearance in the South Central Regional.

“I’m grateful for my time at Northwest. Being a Bearcat is truly special,” Rinehart said. “I had two of the most enjoyable seasons of my coaching career leading these young women. I want to thank the University and community for their support and wish the best for coach [Amy] Phelps and the program moving forward.”

Phelps returned to Northwest last season as an assistant coach for the Bearcats after a six-year absence from Maryville. She spent the 2003 and '04 season as a graduate assistant under head coach Lori Slight.

In her time at Northwest, Phelps has been the top recruiter and director for all Bearcat volleyball camps as well as working primarily with the setters and middle hitters.

"Amy Phelps is a bright, young, energetic coach who has been an important part of our program,” Baker said. “We appreciate her willingness to serve as interim head coach and lead our volleyball program."

Prior to returning to Northwest, Phelps spent six seasons at Alaska-Fairbanks as an assistant coach during the 2005 and '06 season before being elevated to associate head coach from 2007-'10. She helped coach 10 All-Conference honorees in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and 31 GNAC Academic All-Conference student-athletes. Under Phelps, the Nanooks also earned one GNAC Newcomer of the Year and one GNAC Freshman of the Year.

Her coaching career began in 2001 at her alma mater, Graceland University, where she assisted with both the men’s and women’s teams. In 2002 the Lady Jackets were Region V finalists and qualified for the NAIA national championships.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to step up and take over the Bearcat volleyball program,” Phelps said. “We are excited about the direction Northwest volleyball is headed and that is a credit to the foundation laid by coach Rinehart. We will continue building a successful program that will become a consistent threat in the MIAA and region.”

During her time as a player, Phelps earned first-team all-conference and all-region honors and was named an honorable mention NAIA All-American as well as an NAIA All-American Scholar-Athlete. Her team won both the regular season and postseason titles in the Heart of America Conference and she served as a co-captain.