Sunrise Mountain makes swift girls volleyball coaching hire

Sunrise Mountain junior setter Shauna Rath set a ball during a Sept. 8 game with Willow Canyon. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

Richard Smith
West Valley Preps

Sunrise Mountain just finished about a smooth of a transition to a new girls volleyball coach as a high school can reasonably expect.

With coach Bob Levardo accepting the head coaching job at SAGU American Indian College in Phoenix, the Mustangs conducted a search.

By Dec. 18, the Mustangs decided to elevate varsity assistant and former Moon Valley head coach Brandi Jans to the head coaching job.

“The hiring committee met last week and interviewed potential candidates for the job. Brandi proved to be an outstanding hire with her head coaching experience (12 years), and her experience in our program as an assistant (2 years). She is full of passion for the game, and a great fit for the program. It will be a seamless transition and we are excited about the future with Brandi leading our team,” Sunrise Mountain athletic Director Mark Ernster stated in an email.

Levardo led the program back to relevance in his five years at the Peoria school. In 2014, his first season, the Mustangs ended a three-year playoff drought.

Two years of steady progress was followed by a major breakthrough, as the Mustangs reached the 2017 4A finals and came within a couple points of knocking off defending champions Tucson Salpointe Catholic. This fall, the program jumped to 5A and made the state quarterfinals.

“Some of my favorite memories were the young ladies in our program. We always had a great volleyball retreat each year and my coaching staff was great,” Levardo stated in an email. “Our team went to the playoff the five years I was there and reaching the state finals in 2017. I pretty much achieved everything I had worked for with the exception of a win in the state championship for our school.”

He stated that SAGU approached him after the Mustangs’ girls volleyball season was over. He said he was intrigued by the chance to coach a college program.

“SAGU is new to the volleyball world (only two years in existence) I was asked to build a winning program and that is my plan. There is a lot of work ahead, but I enjoy the challenge ahead of me,” Levardo stated.

Ernster stated that Levardo was very open with his communication regarding the job at SAGU and helped with the transition moving forward.

“Bob did an excellent job here at SMHS building the program and competing at the highest level at both the 4A and 5A conferences,” Ernster stated.

He’ll be busy establishing a young and specialized program and Jans’ hire allows Levardo to move on confident that Sunrise Mountain girls volleyball is in good hands.

“I feel that Brandi Jans is an excellent choice as she has coached at the varsity level for 13 years plus the two years as my assistant at Sunrise. Brandi and I were on the same page from day one and I knew at that time if I ever left the program and she were to take over, it would be in great hands,” Levardo stated.

girls volleyball
Sunrise Mountain head coach Bob Levardo speaks with his players after the game against Salpointe Catholic on Nov. 9, 2017 at Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix. [Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps]

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