One day after being named to the NCAA Tournament’s Pittsburgh Regional team for her play during the Kansas volleyball team’s run to the Sweet 16, KU freshman Caroline Bien landed an even bigger honor.
The freshman from nearby St. Thomas Aquinas High was named an honorable mention All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association on Wednesday, becoming just the 10th player in program history to earn AVCA All-American recognition.
Bien is the first Jayhawk since 2017 to be named to the AVCA’s All-American team. That year, Kelsie Payne was named an AVCA third-team All-American while teammates Ainise Havili and Madison Rigdon earned honorable mention nods that same year.
Fellow-freshman, Camryn Turner, a dynamic setter who hails from Topeka and is Bien’s roommate, knew all about Bien’s talent and potential before the two arrived in Lawrence, and it played a big role in her choosing Kansas.
“Playing against her before we came here and seeing how good she is, I was like, ‘I want to play with her instead of against her,’” Turner recently said.
The postseason honors, like the many kills and digs Bien racked up throughout the season, came in bunches.
In addition to those awards, Bien also was the AVCA’s Regional Freshman of the Year (just the second Jayhawk to ever earn that award) and landed a spot on the all-Big 12 first team and all-Big 12 Rookie Team. All of that came after Bien made the Big 12 coaches look good following her selection as the conference’s preseason freshman of the year.
Bien closed out her first season at Kansas as the team leader in kills (336) and the Jayhawks’ second-highest point scorer (385.5), behind super-senior Jenny Mosser, who finished with 388 points.
That duo, along with a young core that figures to build on their success in 2021, which included finishing in a tie for third place in the Big 12 standings, helped lead the Jayhawks to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2017 and their third ever trip to the Sweet 16 and first since 2015.
KU swept No. 19 Oregon in Round 1 and knocked off 20th-ranked Creighton, the host school, in the second round before falling to Final Four-bound Pittsburgh in the Sweet 16.
Bien, who plays six rotations and is just as important in the back row as she is near the net, led the team in kills (41) during their NCAA Tournament run.