Long Beach State women’s volleyball coach Brian Gimmillaro has earned his eighth Coach of the Year award, sharing the honor this year with another legend—Hawaii’s Dave Shoji—as the Big West Conference (BWC) announced its post-season awards.
In addition, three 49er players earned first-team all-conference honors while one of the squad’s first-year players was named to the All-Freshman team.
Gimmillaro shared the top coaching honor with Shoji, a pair that combines for more than 50 years of coaching and nearly 2,000 career wins. Shoji led the Rainbow Wahine to the conference title, but Gimmillaro’s work was deemed just as impressive.
Despite losing two-time All-American Haleigh Hampton and 2011 starting setter Erin Juley for the year before the season began and two more starters in Alma Serna and Delainey Aigner-Swesey during the season, Gimmillaro was able to lead the 49ers to seven straight wins to close the 2012 campaign and post a second-place finish in the Big West.
As for the players, senior outside hitter Janisa Johnson, junior setter Tara Roenicke, and sophomore middle blocker Chisom Okpala were all selected to the 16-player first team, covering the best from the 10-team conference. Long Beach State was second behind league-champion Hawaii for the most first-team honorees. It was the first first-team All-Big West selection for all three, although Johnson was honored as an honorable mention as a sophomore two years ago.
Roenicke led the conference in assists, averaging 10.75 per set while Okpala ranked in the Top 10 in conference matches in hitting percentage, points, kills and blocking. Meanwhile, Johnson led the 49ers in both kills and digs, ranking in the BWC’s Top 10 in both categories in conference play. She averaged 3.20 kills and 4.05 digs per set on the year.
Rounding out the 49ers All-Big West selections, outside hitter Alex Reid was selected for the conference’s seven-member All-Freshman Team. Reid finished the season with a .255 hitting percentage, averaging 2.46 kills per set in Big West play after taking over for Aigner-Swesey on the left side.