Off the Block releases watch list for 2014 Lloy Ball Award

Sixteen college men’s volleyball players have been selected to the 2014 watch list for a new national award.

Off the Block on Tuesday afternoon unveiled its watch list for the inaugural Lloy Ball Award.


The Lloy Ball Award starting in the 2014 season is an annual award given to the nation’s best setter in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season. This national setter of the year award is also named after former IPFW All-American setter and four-time U.S. Olympian Lloy Ball.

Among the players making the watch list includes four Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-Americans — USC junior Micah Christenson, Pepperdine junior Matt West, Lewis senior BJ Boldog and Long Beach State senior Connor Olbright.

The MPSF led all conferences with seven players on the Lloy Ball watch list. In addition, the MIVA, the EIVA and Conference Carolinas each had at least one player selected to the watch list.

The Lloy Ball Award is presented by Off the Block and is the first national college men’s volleyball award to be named after a former standout player. The decision to name the national setter of the year after a player was made in an effort to honor and incorporate the history of NCAA volleyball to this award.

In addition, the Lloy Ball Award is first national position-based award in college men’s volleyball. Several volleyball organizations give out national end-of-year awards each season ranging from All-American Teams to National Player of the Year, but no national award before this upcoming year was specific to a position.

The watch list for the 2014 Lloy Ball Award was selected by Off the Block using a variety of factors including player performances from previous seasons and projections on standout setters to watch during the upcoming season.

The inaugural Lloy Ball Award winner will be selected at the end of the 2014 regular season by a nationwide voting committee comprised of coaches and media members. The top-three vote-getters will be named finalists for the award, while the player receiving the most votes will be the inaugural winner of the Lloy Ball Award presented by Off the Block.

Off the Block is a national award winning website that covers college men’s volleyball and launched in January 2011.


LLOY BALL AWARD WATCH LIST
Brett Anderson, Cal Baptist
BJ Boldog, Lewis
Micah Christenson, USC
Taylor Hammond, Penn State
Peter Heinen, Ohio State
Graham McIlvaine, Ball State
Connor Olbright, Long Beach State
Joby Ramos, Hawai’i
Omar Rivera, IPFW
Tim Schmidt, Lindenwood
Jonah Seif, UC Santa Barbara
James Shaw, Stanford
Keith Smith, Grand Canyon
David Specian, Pfeiffer
Davis Waddell, Princeton
Matt West, Pepperdine

LLOY BALL AWARD WATCH LIST PLAYER BIOS
Brett Anderson, Cal Baptist
Anderson last season led the MPSF with an 11.64 assists per game average. The sophomore also led Cal Baptist to a sixth-place finish during its inaugural season in the MPSF, but the team was ineligible for the postseason as it completed its final year of transitioning from NAIA to NCAA Division II.

BJ Boldog, Lewis
Boldog was among the national leaders last season with a 10.29 assists per game average. The senior was also a 2013 Second-Team All-American selection for the second consecutive year as Lewis won a share of the MIVA regular season title and advanced to the conference tournament championship match.

Micah Christenson, USC
Playing multiple positions last season, Christenson finished among the conference leaders with a 9.42 assists per game average and earned Second-Team All-MPSF honors. In addition, the junior during the off-season played with the U.S. Men’s National Team and helped lead the United States win the NORCECA championship and a fifth-place finish at the FIVB Grand Champions Cup.

Taylor Hammond, Penn State
Hammond, the 2013 EIVA Newcomer of the Year, led the conference and was third in the nation last season with a 10.95 assists per game average. The sophomore also earned 2013 Second-Team All-EIVA honors as Penn State won its 15th consecutive EIVA championship and reached the NCAA Tournament.

Peter Heinen, Ohio State
Heinen led the MIVA and was second in the nation last season with a 10.97 assists per game average. The senior and 2013 Big Ten Distinguished Scholar also had six matches with at least 50 assists last year as Ohio State finished in fourth place in the MIVA.

Graham McIlvaine, Ball State
McIlvaine was among the conference leaders and in the nation’s top 20 last season with a 9.62 assists per game average. In addition, McIlvaine last year in his third season as the Cardinals’ starting setter helped Ball State have its first 20-win season in five years and advance to the MIVA Tournament semifinals.

Connor Olbright, Long Beach State
Olbright had a nation-best 1,336 assists and was among the national leaders with a 10.86 assists per game average last season. The senior also earned Second-Team All-American honors as Long Beach State advanced to the 2013 MPSF Tournament championship match.

Joby Ramos, Hawai’i
After beginning last season as a back-up setter, Ramos started 24 matches and finished in the nation’s top 25 with a 9.19 assists per game average. The senior also helped the Rainbow Warriors rally late in the season to earn the final spot in the MPSF Tournament and their first postseason appearance in two years.

Omar Rivera, IPFW
Rivera in his second season as IPFW’s starting setter was among the MIVA leaders and in the nation’s top 15 with a 10.25 assists per game average. Rivera also was in the conference’s top 10 with 24 aces as he helped guide the Mastodons to the 2013 MIVA Tournament quarterfinals.

Tim Schmidt, Lindenwood
Schmidt last season was fifth in the MIVA with a 9.89 assists per game average and led all setters in the conference with 164 digs. The senior also helped Lindenwood in its inaugural season in the MIVA finish in sixth place, but the team was ineligible for the postseason as it completed its final season of transitioning from NAIA to NCAA Division II.

Jonah Seif, UC Santa Barbara
Seif last season led all freshmen with 1,097 assists and was among the national leaders with a 10.40 assists per game average. In addition, he was a All-MPSF Freshman Team selection and helped UC Santa Barbara reach the MPSF Tournament for the first time in two years.

James Shaw, Stanford
Shaw last season led all freshmen and was among the national leaders with a 10.48 assists per game average. In addition, he was earned MPSF All-Freshman honors as he helped guide Stanford to a sixth-place finish and reach the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

Keith Smith, Grand Canyon
Smith led the MIVA with 1,294 assists and was in the nation’s top five averaging 10.78 assists per game last season. In addition, Smith in the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals had 48 assists to help Grand Canyon upset Ohio State for its first postseason victory in program history.

David Specian, Pfeiffer
Specian last season was sixth in the nation with a 10.74 assists per game average and in the nation’s top 25 with a 0.29 assists per game average. The junior also earned 2013 All-Conference Carolinas honors as he helped guide the Falcons to their second consecutive conference title.

Davis Waddell, Princeton
Waddell was among the EIVA leaders and in the nation’s top 20 with a 10.03 assists per game average. The senior also has played three positions for the Tigers during his college career and helped guide Princeton to its second consecutive postseason appearance last year.

Matt West, Pepperdine
West led the nation with an 11.25 assists per game average last season and helped guide Pepperdine’s offense to finish among the national leaders with a .295 attack percentage. The junior also earned First-Team All-American honors as Pepperdine reached the 2013 MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.