KJ Johnson ’23 Wins Second Straight MAAC Player of the Year Award

KJ Johnson ’23 Wins Second Straight MAAC Player of the Year Award

Image of Volleyball player KJ Johnson '23 serving during a game.

KJ Johnson '23 is the only All-American in Fairfield volleyball history.

Johnson and Ella Gardiner ’24 were named to the All-MAAC First Team, and Todd Kress collected a record ninth Coach of the Year award.

KJ Johnson ’23 has been named the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, to highlight the All-MAAC honors collected by Fairfield University Volleyball. Johnson and Ella Gardiner ’24 were named to the All-MAAC First Team, and Head Coach Todd Kress extended his own conference record with his ninth MAAC Coach of the Year award.

Johnson followed up her 2021 All-America season with another dazzling campaign on the outside. She is only the second Stag to ever win back-to-back MAAC Player of the Year honors joining Skyler Day ’18, who nabbed the award in both 2016 and 2017. She adds a second straight All-MAAC First Team selection to a career résumé that also includes 2021 MAAC Championship MVP, AVCA All-Northeast Region, and AVCA All-America Honorable Mention.

Gardiner picked up All-MAAC First Team honors after ranking second in the MAAC in blocks per set, and slots fifth in the conference in hitting percentage.

In addition, Fairfield is the only team with multiple MAAC All-Rookie Team selections as Allie Elliott ’26 and Maya Walker ’26 both garnered a spot among the conference’s top first-year players.

Kress won his second straight Coach of the Year award and his unprecedented ninth in 13 seasons leading the Stags. He has led the Stags to a 23-6 overall record, including winning the MAAC regular season by three matches with a 17-1 conference tally.

Kress is the all-time winningest coach in Fairfield and MAAC history with a 282-118 (.705) record leading the Stags and has won a record seven MAAC Championships and 10 MAAC Regular Season Championships. He is 158-28 (.849) all-time in the MAAC regular season.

“We always say in our program that ‘all awards are team awards,’ and that goes double if not triple for Coach of the Year,” Kress said. “I’m humbled and proud to be chosen by my peers for this award, and I’m even prouder to share it with 16 student-athletes, my close friend and associate head coach Melissa Batie-Smoose, and countless others throughout our Athletics Department and our University.”

Fairfield Volleyball defeated Niagara on Thursday afternoon in the MAAC Championship Quarterfinals at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. They will play in the semifinal round on Friday at noon with the MAAC Championship Match set for Saturday at 1 p.m. The entirety of the tournament will be broadcast live on ESPN+.

Tags:  Top Stories,  Athletics


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