UC Irvine, USC players named Springbak, Inc. Co-National Freshman of the Week

Freshmen from UC Irvine and USC following career performances last week both earned a share of one of the nation’s top individual weekly awards.

Off the Block announced Monday that UC Irvine outside attacker Tamir Hershko and USC middle attacker Andy Benesh were selected as the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Co-National Freshman of the Week.


Hershko led No. 7 UC Irvine in kills in two matches last week, including having a career-high 25 kills in a five-game loss to No. 8 BYU on Friday. In addition, Hershko had a match-high 22 kills against USC on Tuesday.

Along with his offensive performance, the freshman added a combined eight blocks in the two matches.

Benesh had 15 kills with zero attack errors and a match-best .789 attack percentage to help No. 4 USC defeat UC Irvine in five games. The freshman also had nine kills and a team-high four blocks in a four-game loss to No. 2 Pepperdine on Thursday.

This is the third consecutive week that a USC player has earned Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week honors. Outside attacker Lucas Yoder, who received an honorable mention for the award this week, won back-to-back National Freshman of the Week awards to open the season.

Hershko becomes the first player from UC Irvine to win the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week in the award’s inaugural season.

The Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week is presented to the NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball freshman who had the most outstanding performance during the week.

The winner is announced every Monday during the regular season on the Off the Block website, offtheblockblog.com.

Each of the four NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball conferences have an opportunity each week to nominate one player for the National Freshman of the Week. In addition, fans and teams can nominate a player for the National Freshman of the Week by tweeting their nominee to the official Twitter account of Off the Block, @offtheblock11.

This new college men’s volleyball award will also lead up to the Freshmen All-American Team. The Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-American Team will be presented at the of the regular season and selected by nationwide voting committee of coaches and media members.

Off the Block is a website that started in January 2011 and has become among the national leaders in college men’s volleyball coverage. Springbak, Inc. is the official sponsor of the 2014 Freshmen All-American Team and National Freshman of the Week and produces high performance footwear used by professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, MLB and U.S. Olympic teams and the top college teams in the nation.

Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of Week honorable mentions
Lucas Yoder, USC outside attacker — Yoder had a career-high 21 kills to help guide USC to a five-game home victory against UC Irvine on Tuesday. The freshman also had a team-high 16 kills in a loss to Pepperdine on Thursday.

Joel Muhlbach, Limestone middle attacker — Muhlbach had a match-high 10 blocks along with 10 kills in a four-game victory against Coker to help Limestone go undefeated at the King University Invitational. The middle attacker also had eight blocks and three aces as Limestone defeated Quincy during the non-conference tournament.

Jackson Bantle, UCLA outside attacker — Bantle had a combined 16 kills in UCLA’s two conference victories last week, including nine kills in a five-game victory against No. 1 Stanford. He also added eight digs and a team-high two aces in the win versus the Cardinal.

Roberto Perez Vargas, Erskine outside attacker — Vargas finished among the team leaders with 15 kills as Erskine almost upset No. 10 Lewis before losing in four games on Saturday.

2014 OFF THE BLOCK/SPRINGBAK, INC. NATIONAL FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK RECIPIENTS
Jan. 6 — Lucas Yoder, USC
Jan. 13 — Lucas Yoder, USC
Jan. 20 — Andy Benesh, USC; Tamir Hershko, UC Irvine