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© Diannie Chavez/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

In honor of a coach who led Arizona State to a record-breaking season, the 26-sport ASU Athletics division cast its votes and new Sun Devils volleyball head coach JJ Van Niel received the 2024 Frank Kush Coach of the Year award.

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Legendary ASU football coach Frank Kush died on June 22, 2017. Since then, this honor has been a way for other coaches at the university to honor each other who had a successful season in their sport. Kush led the Sun Devils to a 176-54-1 record from 1958 to 1979, winning seven Western Athletic Conference titles during that 22-year span.

In his first season as head coach, Van Niel led Arizona State to a 28-7 record, its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2015, where the Sun Devils won two games for the first time in program history to earn a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. The record they posted was ASU's best of this century, and they posted the second-highest win total of all time.

Van Niel led an ASU team with a 13-19 record in 2022 to the same level of success as last year, earning AVCA Pacific South Region Coach of the Year and Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors, as well as winning the Linda Vollstedt Coach of the Year Award.

Arizona State finished 14-6 in the Pac-12, surpassing the most conference wins as a team. Additionally, the Sun Devils finished their final season in the Pac-12 in a tie for third place in the conference, their best conference finish since they finished second in 1993.

Not only has Van Niel won such prestigious awards this season, but many of his athletes have also achieved this.

In her final season, senior hitter Marta Levinska was selected to the AVCA First Team All-American and earned AVCA South Pacific Region All-Region and All-Pac-12 First Team honors. Graduates Claire Jeter and Shannon Shields both earned honorable mention All-Americans. Overall, the team earned three AVCA All-America honors, five AVCA All-District honors, and won six Pac-12 postseason awards and five Pac-12 weekly awards.

Other coaches competing against Van Niel for the Frank Kush Coach of the Year award included women's tennis's Sheila McInerney after her 40th and final season as coach, triathlon player Cliff English, who won his seventh consecutive national championship, and beach volleyball's Kristen Rohr after she was Pac-12 Coach of the Year and her team made the NCAA Tournament.

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Reporter Alec Cipollini covers ASU Athletics, Phoenix Mercury and more for Burn City Sports. You can follow him At his X-account, @AlecCipollini

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