A nationwide voting committee selected Long Beach State middle attacker Antwain Aguillard, Ball State middle attacker Anders Nelson and BYU middle attacker Futi Tavana as finalists for the Off the Block Blocker of the Year.
The Off the Block Blocker of the Year award is given to the nation’s best front-row defensive men’s volleyball player during the regular season. To be eligible for this award, a player must be on the active roster of a Division I-II men’s volleyball team.
Aguillard is second in the MPSF with 127 total blocks and is seventh in the nation averaging 1.19 blocks per game. As a senior, Agullard was one of two middle attackers this season to be named a Sports Imports/AVCA Men’s Division I-II National Player of the Week.
“Aguillard is one of the most dynamic blockers in the country. I think there are some guys with more blocks, but I think that’s because every hitter he plays against will not hit at him,” Long Beach State interim head coach Andy Read said. “He is the quickest guy pin to pin, and if you hit it at him it’s coming back to you. He has been fabulous for us this season and is a big reason why we were the No. 1 blocking defense in the conference.”
Nelson, a senior, is third in the nation averaging 1.35 blocks per game and leads the country with 35 solo blocks. He also is first in the Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association with 144 total blocks, including a match-high nine blocks in Ball State’s three-game upset victory against then-No. 5 Hawai’i in January.
“Anders has been a steady player for us all season and has been a great anchor for our blocking and offense,” Ball State coach Joel Walton said. “Whether it’s his serving or back court defense, Anders has been tremendous for us since he joined Ball State.”
Tavana leads the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation and is second in the nation with a 1.50 blocks per game average. The junior also has a nation-best 151 total blocks this season. Tavana was a 2010 All-American after switching positions from outside attacker to middle attacker before the start of that season.
“Futi has always been able to control the net defensively for us. He is a big, athletic guy who plays the game well and puts a lot of pressure on other teams because of his blocking,” BYU interim head coach Rob Neilson said. “He has done a great job learning and is growing offensively. He is a scary middle to go up against for other teams.”
The voting committee for this award was comprised of more than 15 men’s volleyball head coaches and volleyball reporters from around the nation.
The overall winner of the Off the Block Blocker of the Year award will be announced Monday.
This is the inaugural year for the Off the Block Blocker of the Year. Off the Block is a website that launched in January and solely focuses on college men’s volleyball news and analysis.
Finalists (listed in alphabetical order)
Antwain Aguillard, Long Beach State
Anders Nelson, Ball State
Futi Tavana, BYU
Others receiving votes
T‐4. Austin Zahn, USC
T‐4. Sean Daley, Pacific
6. Shaun Sibley, George Mason
T‐7. J.D. Gasparovic, Ball State
T‐7. Brandon Joyner, George Mason
T‐7. Shane Welch, Hawai’i
T‐10. Steven Shandrick, USC
T‐10. Scott Slaughter, UC Santa Barbara
12. Matt Gallik, Lewis