(Phoenix, AZ) For the first time in program history, the Grand Canyon men’s volleyball team had two players honored in the annual National Volleyball Association and American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American awards on Monday.
GCU redshirt junior outside hitter Christian Janke became the first Lope to be named to the All-America second team while fellow outside hitter Camden Gianni, a redshirt sophomore, was awarded his third straight All-America honorable mention.
Janke had a banner year, setting a new career high with a .336 hitting percentage while tallying 297 kills. The Carlsbad, California, native ranked inside the top 30 in four national offensive categories, including 18th in aces per set and 26th in kills per set. Janke tallied double-digit kills in 17 matches, including a career-high 31 kills in a five-set win at BYU in February to tie a GCU single-match record. Janke made more GCU history in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament when he became the third Lope to reach 1,000 career kills.
Gianni took his game to another level this year, as he led the Lopes with 348 kills and 3.7 kills per set. The redshirt sophomore led the Lopes with 426.5 points and set the GCU single season record with 49 service aces. Gianni ranked eighth in the country in aces per set at .52 while also finishing in the top 15 for kills per set and points per set. Gianni tallied double-digit kills in the first 16 matches of the season, including career-high 25 kills in a road match against Lewis. Defensively, Gianni was just as impressive, finishing second on the team with 144 digs and third with 47 blocks.
As a duo, Janke and Gianni combined for nearly 50% of GCU’s kills this season while adding 86 of the team’s 137 aces and a combined 278 digs.
He drew on his soccer passion that formed in his hometown of Memphis, where he starred at Christian Brothers High School as the fifth of six children. Even then on his club teams, Kraus voluntarily pulled himself out of the lineup to take over coaching when his coach worked on another field.
Kraus continued in a faith-based education at Creighton, where he played on NCAA tournament qualifiers every year, reached the College Cup quarterfinals twice and was named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in 2006.
“I have a close relationship with faith and my family, and I value that,” Kraus said. “Being here on campus and talking to the leaders of the university and seeing other like-minded people that have those values high in their hearts, that’s something that was familiar with my family, where I’ve been and the path that I’ve taken in my life.”
Kraus was the No. 48 pick of the 2007 MLS draft by Kansas City, where he made 11 appearances over three years and set a record for the fastest first career goal scored (48 seconds) in 2009.
GCU gives him the chance to return to competing for a city and a region, as the psychology graduate did at Creighton and for Kansas City.
“When you’re playing for your university, especially one like GCU that’s the only DI men’s soccer program in the state, you’re playing for your university, your city, your family and the state,” Kraus said. “There’s a lot of pride that can go into that. I’m thankful to President Brian Mueller and VP of Athletics Jamie Boggs for the opportunity.”
With RSL, Kraus developed players for pro and college opportunities as an assistant before becoming a director who deepened club and academy relationships across a growing U.S. player pool. He also has assisted on the U17 national team coaching staff since 2020.
“I know the stakeholders within all of the MLS academies around the country,” Kraus said. “I’m definitely going to use those relationships to my advantage and our staff’s advantage to continue to work with MLS clubs that think their players aren’t quite ready to jump to the professional level right now, but they want to keep track of them, want them in a positive environment and want them in a winning culture. GCU is the home for them.”
With Phoenix’s still-growing soccer community, few realize the potential for talent on the GCU team and a following in GCU Stadium more than Kraus does. He wants to continue to integrate in-state players into a diverse, far-reaching roster to provide role models for the metro area’s youth, which includes his three sons: Jack, 8, Finn, 6, and Dominic, 4.
“When this position became available, it really struck me that everything I’ve had and everything I’ve done has maybe led to this,” Kraus said.
Press Release courtesy of Grand Canyon Athletics – Jerob Moon