TEMPE, Ariz. – The Arizona State beach volleyball program will head into the 2023-24 season under new direction with the hiring of Kristen Rohr. Rohr, an accomplished volleyball player in her own right, coached at Grand Canyon University for eight seasons before taking the ASU job with a great deal of excitement.
Rohr led GCU to a 148-71 record over a span which saw the Lopes consistently finish as a top team in the nation in her tenure. The beach volleyball program at GCU has finished as a top 10 team the past three seasons under Rohr. Rohr’s success with the program also produced back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2021 and 2022.
Rohr’s ability to develop individual success also flourished at GCU. Under Rohr, the Lopes had six American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Americans and four AVCA Top-Flight pairs, including one Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) pro in Molly Turner.
“There’s already a solid foundation here,” said Rohr. “I’m super excited to build on that and make ASU the top program in Arizona and in the Pac-12,”
The Sun Devils beach volleyball program constructed a new sand pit for the 2018 season and since has received facility upgrades. With support from the university, the beach volleyball program has the ability to grow under the leadership of Rohr.
Recruiting will be the first course of action for Rohr’s vision at Arizona State. The Sun Devils return all but two players from the starting five pairs on the 2022-23 roster. This factor gives Rohr the ability to establish her culture with players who already have college experience.
The state of Arizona has a rapidly growing beach volleyball scene. In fact, Arizona has 82 established high school beach volleyball programs, the third most in the United States only behind California and Florida. While Rohr is looking for talented players, the veteran coach also knows that establishing a culture means bringing in well-rounded student-athletes as well.
“The first thing that I’m going to be looking for are people that are going to be able to add something positive to the culture that I have a vision of building,” Rohr said. “Athletes that are ready to work hard and want to be a part of a building program and take it to the next level.”
Rohr’s success at GCU came from the culture she established while pushing her athletes to their fullest potentials, something that will be critical for a program with growing support. With plenty of local talent and ASU’s attraction to out-of-state recruits, Rohr’s envision of a hard working, passionate program can be a reality and is something that the 2022 AVCA Collegiate Beach Coach of the Year knows, especially in Tempe.
“I think it’s important to pull athletes that are from our own state because Arizona is such a hotbed for sand volleyball,” said Rohr. “I think it’s not just pulling from our state, but pulling the best talent and these athletes that are wanting to go to a power five, a Pac-12 that is as highly academic as ASU is and offers everything that they do. I think that’s a huge benefit to being able to pull the top talent in the country.”
Rohr’s connection to her players in the past is also what has attracted winning to her teams as well. Rohr’s commitment to her teams as well as the individuals is something he has credited to her success at GCU and hopes to continue her close relationships with her Sun Devils.
“I just have so much passion for the sport and passion for my athletes,” Rohr said. “I put a big emphasis on my relationship with my student-athletes, getting to know them through the recruiting process, getting to know them and advocate for them and just be here for them while they’re going through their four years.”
In Rohr’s first year, the expectations she has set may seem lofty, but the veteran coach is going to rely on key returning pieces, transfer eligible pickups and experience to construct a program that thrusts itself quickly into a top ranked team not only in the Pac-12, but in the country.
“I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t have a record breaking season this year,” said Rohr. “Between talking with some transfers and trying to find some pieces that can even get us above top 15 this year, I don’t think that’s an unrealistic goal, and if you’re not setting your goals really high, then what are you really doing?”
The Sun Devils head into next spring with supreme optimism with an experienced head coach guiding a building program. Arizona State will begin its pursuit to become a powerhouse this season under Rohr, and with talent, experience, passion and resources, ASU has the ability to grow the future of beach volleyball in the Valley.
“I really would love to help the community understand and know about our sport and get excited about it,” Rohr said. “You’re going to see a lot of fire, a lot of passion and a lot of grit.”