Mussie begins job of taking ASU volleyball to next level

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                </div>  Stevie Mussie is stepping into a sweet opportunity at Arizona State, where she just snagged her first head-coaching job in college volleyball. Mussie, who has been an assistant coach […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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Stevie Mussie is stepping into a sweet opportunity at Arizona State, where she just snagged her first head-coaching job in college volleyball.

Mussie, who has been an assistant coach at four different D-I universities, was announced last week as the new Sun Devil head coach and will take over a program poised to move into the ranks of the national elite.

This won’t be a grueling re-building job, like some of those in her past.

And she just could be the right person to take the reins of a program that has begun making an impact on the national level after her predecessor, Jason Watson, guided the Devils into the national rankings a few years back. The 2012 season marked the start of an upswing when Watson, who was lured away last month by University of Arkansas, led ASU to a 20-win record and then secured NCAA post-season bids the next three years.

Last year, the team began the season ranked No. 16 in the national polls and climbed as high as No. 5 early in the schedule.

But getting into the post-season was one thing.  Advancing through the tourney was another.  The 2014 season was the only time in the past four years that the Sun Devils got out of the first round – and then they were eliminated in the second round.  Last season ended again in the opening round when ASU lost to Florida State.

Mussie knows what it’s like to go deep.  Her most recent career stop was a two-year stint at Penn State, which owns seven national championships and has enjoyed enormous post-season success.  They went all the way to the national title in 2014 and finished their run last season at the Sweet Sixteen after posting a 28-6 record.  The 2015 run also marked the program’s 13th consecutive trip to the NCAA regional semifinal.

And before Penn State, Mussie helped turn around programs at Virginia and North Carolina State. While at NC State, the Wolfpack had the largest RPI gain in NCAA history by a first-year staff as the program rose 150 spots in the rankings.  She was also an assistant coach at the University of Colorado following graduation from the University of Washington, where she helped win a national championship as a student -athlete.

“Looking at Stevie’s track record, she has experienced measurable success at each stop in her coaching career,” said ASU Athletics Director Ray Anderson in announcing Mussie’s hire.  “She has an innate ability to relate to student-athletes on a personal level and tremendous energy and enthusiasm for bringing the next world-class volleyball players to ASU.”

That energy and enthusiasm will be valuable attributes as Mussie begins the challenge of taking the ASU program to the next level.

But the real question will be whether someone used to working the battle lines in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina can effectively recruit to the desert.

Fortunately, Watson didn’t leave the cupboard bare.  Mussie has some good talent on board as she begins building with a new staff – assuming, of course, she can convince those players already on board to stay the course with a new coach.

And then convince the incoming talent that ASU is still the best place to begin their college careers.