Arizona State Sun Devils

Van Niel Named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Five Earn Honors

Photo - Peter Vander Stoep/Sun Devil Athletics

(San Francisco, CA)  Sun Devil Volleyball received the most postseason conference honors in program history, highlighted by JJ Van Niel being named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year, Marta Levinska on the All-Pac-12 Team and four earning honorable mentions. 

First-year head coach Van Niel is the fourth coach of the year in Arizona State volleyball history, the first since Patti Snyder-Park in 1992. He is the fourth coach in Sun Devil Athletics to be named coach of the year in their first season. Among Pac-12 volleyball winners, he is the third first-year head coach to win, along with John Dunning from Stanford in 2001 and Jerritt Elliot as the interim head coach at USC in 1999.

For the player awards, five receiving honors is the most the Sun Devils have had in a single season, with two being the previous best. Levinska is on the All-Pac-12 Team for her first time, the first for ASU since 2021. Levinska has earned a Pac-12 postseason award in every season of her career after being honorable mention the last two years and on the all-freshman team her first season. She joins Macey Gardner and Christine Garner as Sun Devils with a Pac-12 postseason honor in each year of their career. The four Sun Devils on honorable mention are Geli Cyr, Claire Jeter, Shannon Shields and Mary Shroll, the first postseason honor for all four of them. 

For the complete list of winners, head to the Pac-12’s website

JJ Van Niel made history in his first season as a head coach by leading Arizona State to an incredible turnaround to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. The Sun Devils finished the regular season 26-6, which is the best record this century at ASU and the third-highest win total in program history. This was the 11th season that the program has reached 20 wins. Additionally, Arizona State had a 14-6 Pac-12 record, which is the most conference wins in team history. The Sun Devils finished in a tie for third in the Pac-12, the best conference finish since tying for second in 1993.

The team started the season strong, finishing non-conference undefeated and going 14-0 to start the year, which is the best start by a new head coach in the NCAA era. In the rankings, the squad has been in the top 25 in the AVCA Coaches Poll every week since September 25. The Sun Devils had two-top five sweeps over Stanford (home) and Oregon (away). The win over the Cardinal was just the second time ever that the Sun Devils swept them. This was just the second time in ASU history beating two top-five teams, but it’s the first time with two top-five sweeps. Speaking of sweeps, the Sun Devils had 18 three-set wins on the year, which is the most in program history.

Levinska has led the team on offense this season with her best season in her career. She is top 10 in the nation in kills, kills per set, points and points per set. She has earned four Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week awards, the most in a single season in ASU history. She also was the AVCA National Player of the Week on October 31 following the win over Stanford. In all but two matches, she’s had double-digit kills and she has had 20 or more kills nine times. In the ASU record book, she is currently in sixth for career kills with 1,536.

Junior Geli Cyr has not only been a strong offensive weapon with the second-most kills on the team, but her defense has been stellar, putting her second on the team in digs behind the libero. She has had 10 or more digs in 13 matches, the same number as double-digit  kills. In three of the last four matches, she has earned a double-double, upping her season total to five. 

In the middle, senior Claire Jeter has been holding down the defense at the net. Jeter leads the team in blocks with 117, the most she’s had in a single season. She has eclipsed 100 kills on the year with 184. She is also second on the team in aces with 40.

The starting libero all season has been graduate Mary Shroll, who leads the team in digs with 412. She has been a steady force for the team. Back in late October, she was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week, her first weekly honor of her career. She also is first on the team in aces with 42. This season, she surpassed two impressive career milestones by surpassing 1,000 career digs and 100 career aces.

Press Release courtesy of Sun Devil Athletics – Kimberlie Haner


                                  Click on Logo

Most Popular

To Top