Princeton outside attacker Cody Kessel received a record number of votes to win the Off the Block Fan Choice Player of the Month for February.
Kessel received 42.72 percent of the total vote to beat runner-up BYU middle attacker Russell Lavaja by 42 votes out of more than 2,000 votes cast for this national college men’s volleyball award.
The Player of the Month award recognizes the best individual performances from NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball players during the month and gives volleyball fans from around the world the chance to determine who was the best player.
Kessel had a team-high 88 kills in seven February matches, including a season-high 22 kills in a victory against UC San Diego. That victory was also the Tigers’ first road win against a MPSF team in more than 10 years.
Kessel is in the nation’s top 20 — and second among freshman — with a 3.55 kills per game average. The freshman also helped the Tigers end the month in second place in the EIVA.
Fans determined the winner of the Player of the Month award through online voting on the Off the Block website.
Off the Block received a record 2,121 votes during the three days of online voting. The vote total more than doubled the amount of votes for the January Player of the Month award and was Off the Block’s highest turnout for a single online competition.
Kessel finished with 906 votes to beat Lavaja by 1.98 percentage points. UCLA outside attacker Jeremy Casebeer ended in third place with 5 percent of the vote.
Kessel, Lavaja and Casebeer were among 10 finalists for Player of the Month. The other finalists included setter Evan Barry, USC outside attacker Tony Ciarelli, Penn State outside attacker Nick Goodell, Hawai’i outside attacker Steven Hunt, Lewis outside attacker Jay Petty, Ohio State outside attacker Shawn Sangrey and UC Irvine outside attacker Kevin Tillie.
As the February Player of the Month, Kessel will receive an automatic bid to the 65-player Off the Block Fan Choice Player of the Year Tournament at the end of the season. Lavaja will also receive an automatic bid to the Player of the Year Tournament because of his high vote total as the runner-up.
Kessel and Lavaja join Penn State setter Edgardo Goas, who won the January Player of the Month, as the three players with automatic bids to the tournament so far.