TEMPE – Sun Devil Volleyball has a new leader as JJ Van Niel has been announced as the ninth head coach in program history, as announced by Vice President of University Athletics Ray Anderson.
“We are excited to welcome JJ to Tempe,” Anderson said. “His background is fantastic on so many levels and he has been a part of building a program and getting it back to where it belongs. His work in the USA volleyball community, his tremendous Pac-12 knowledge and his understanding of what we aspire to achieve with our volleyball program makes him the ideal fit for ASU.”
Van Niel comes to Tempe after five seasons at USC, most recently as the associate head coach. While with the Trojans, he helped the team to three NCAA Tournament appearances (2018, 2019, 2022), advancing to the second round in each of those.
“I am so grateful and excited to be named the head coach of the Arizona State University volleyball program,” Van Niel said. “Tempe has always been one of my favorite road trips due to the passion and pride the city has for ASU and for its athletic teams. Throughout the interview process, it became clear that the athletic department and school are invested in making this program great and in providing its student athletes with an amazing experience. I want to thank Ray, Christina, Graham and the entire search committee for this opportunity. My family and I are looking forward to immersing ourselves in the community and I can’t wait to get started building this program.”
In addition to tournament appearances, Van Niel helped coach five AVCA All-Americans, most recently Skylar Fields (first team). There have also been 10 all-region nods and 18 All-Pac-12 honorees during his tenure. Van Niel helped coach two USC teams to 22-win seasons (2018 and 2022).
“This opportunity for JJ is not a surprise,” USC Head Coach Brad Keller said. “He has come full circle and has been through an enormous amount of valuable experiences which have prepared him for this job. I have had the honor of working with him during arguably the most difficult time in our professional careers. Watching him grow as a leader, mentor, friend and role model has been nothing short of impressive. His dedication and loyalty has been one of the main pillars that has brought our program back towards where it needs to be. He is ready for this opportunity and I cannot wait to witness what he brings to the Arizona State women’s volleyball program. ASU is getting one of the best!”
Previously, Van Niel served as an assistant coach at Utah for two seasons (2015-16) before he was promoted to associate head coach for the 2017 season. He helped the Utes to a 20-12 season in 2016 and a 24-10 record in 2017 as Utah advanced to the NCAA regional semifinal for just the third time in program history.
“JJ is one of the best and I have no doubt will do great things at ASU,” Utah Head Coach Beth Launiere said. “His passion for the sport, his work ethic and his quality relationships with people in the volleyball world will set him up for success as he takes over the Sun Devil program. JJ comes to this position with extensive life experience and a well-rounded resume built in collegiate athletics, the business world, club volleyball, and USA Volleyball. I’m so happy for him to have this opportunity.”
Prior to his time at Utah, Van Niel was a consultant coach and scout for the U.S. Women’s National Team, where he also served as a team leader and assisted group training since 2013. While with the USWNT under the direction of volleyball legend Karch Kiraly, Van Niel was responsible for coordinating and performing data analysis, game planning, and assistance during on-court practices. Van Niel helped lead Team USA to a fourth-place finish at the 2013 U23 World Championships, a silver-medal finish at the 2014 VolleyMasters and a gold medal at the 2014 World Championships. In 2016, he served as a scout coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team at the Rio Olympic Games.
“Congratulations to the Arizona State Women’s Volleyball Sun Devils and JJ Van Niel,” Karch Kiraly said. “JJ’s variety and depth of experiences, both internationally with USA campaigns and within the Pac-12, have prepared him thoroughly for the work ahead to take the Sun Devils to the next level. Good luck, JJ!”
Since 2006, Van Niel worked with Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, where he served as head coach for the club’s elite travel teams. His 17-1 squad won the Pacific Northwest National Qualifier and earned a bid to the USA Junior Nationals Open Division. In addition to his coaching duties, Van Niel also served as the club’s Chief Financial Officer. In 2012, VolleyballNow.net named him Coach of the Year.
While in San Diego, Van Niel was also an assistant coach for the UC San Diego men’s program from 2011-14 and was also head coach at La Costa Canyon High School in 2014. Prior to his stint as head coach, he had served in various capacities at LCCHS since 2010.
Van Niel’s coaching education includes being a USA Volleyball CAP Level III coach, working at the USA Volleyball High Performance Coaching Clinic, and the completion of both Gold Medal Square Level I and II programs.
Van Niel, a native of Southern California, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in finance, Cum Laude, from the USC Marshall School of Business in 1998. He also played for USC’s club ice hockey team. He then spent 12 years in the financial world (two in investment banking in San Francisco, four at a distressed debt hedge fund in Los Angeles, and six at an activist hedge fund in San Diego) before entering the volleyball-coaching field.
Van Niel and his wife Maria have three children: Kaleb, Olivia, and Nathaniel.
VOLLEYBALL HEAD COACHES
Mary Littlewood, 1973-1979
Dale Flickinger, 1979-1983
Debbie Brown, 1983-1988
Patti Snyder-Park, 1989-2002
Brad Saindon, 2003-2007
Jason Watson, 2008-2015
Stevie Mussie, 2016
Sanja Tomasevic, 2017-22
JJ Van Niel, 2022-present