Halfway through the regular season and it remains a wide-open field for who will be the 2015 National Player of the Year at the end of the season.
While there is still a lot of volleyball remaining in the final two months of the season, several players have emerged as favorites for the top individual award in college men’s volleyball.
Check out the front-runners for the National Player of the Year at the midway point of the season.
Micah Christenson, USC
His case: Christenson is among the nation’s leaders with both a 10.52 assists per game average and 23 aces. In addition, the All-American senior guided the Trojans to first place in the MPSF before their recent three-match losing streak.
Chances of winning: It has been five years since a setter won the National Player of the Year. Christenson was the preseason favorite after his performance with the U.S. Men’s National Team during the off-season. If USC can finish in the top four of the MPSF or make a deep postseason run, he will be on the shortlist of players considered at the end of the season.
Thomas Jaeschke, Loyola
His case: Jaeschke is among the MIVA and national leaders with both a 3.72 kills per game average and a .349 attack percentage. The defending MIVA Player of the Year also has multiple aces in six matches this season to help No. 1 Loyola remains the only undefeated team in the nation.
Chances of winning: A player from the MIVA has never won the National Player of the Year. If Jaeschke is going to break that trend, he will likely need to continue to produce high offensive statistics and the Ramblers will need to finish the regular season No. 1 in the national coaches poll.
Parker Kalmbach, Pepperdine
His case: Kalmbach is leading the MPSF and in the nation’s top 10 with a 3.86 kills per game average. He also is among the MPSF leaders with a .356 attack percentage while helping No. 4 Pepperdine move into third place in the conference standing.
Chances of winning: Kalmbach has the offensive numbers that will be appealing to many voters, especially if the Waves win the MPSF regular season championship. However, the strong preformances from All-American outside attacker Josh Taylor and All-American setter Matt West could overshadow Kalmbach.
Tyler Averill, Hawai’i
His case: Averill is second in the MPSF with both a .467 attack percentage and a 1.33 blocks per game average. In addition, the senior middle attacker has twice been named National Player of the Week as No. 6 Hawai’i enters the second half of the season in fourth place in the MPSF.
Chances of winning: It’s rare that a middle attacker wins the National Player of the Year but two things benefit Averill — his impressive offensive and defensive statistics and Hawai’i exceeding its preseason expectations. If Hawai’i can finish in the top four of the MPSF and make a deep postseason run, expect Averill to get serious consideration at the end of the season.
Tamir Hershko, UC Irvine
His case: Hershko leads the nation with 235 kills and is second in the MPSF with a 3.85 kills per game average. In addition, Hershko has twice been named the MPSF Player of the Week and helped No. 3 UC Irvine move into second place in the MPSF standings.
Chances of winning: Hershko already has several big performances against some of the nation’s top teams, including a team-high 18 kills in a five-game win against Pepperdine in February. Hershkno and opposite Zack La Cavera, though, are have similar offensive numbers and the teammates could take away votes from each other.
Matt West, Pepperdine
His case: West is second in the MPSF and in the nation’s top five with a 10.74 assists per game average. In addition, West has guided Pepperdine’s offense to the third best attack percentage in the nation at .349.
Chances of winning: West is one of the best players in nation but it may be challenging for him to win this award because of Christenson’s performance this season. However, if West can help Pepperdine beat USC and win the MPSF championship, the setter would have a legitimate case for National Player of the Year.
Cody Caldwell, Loyola
His case: Caldwell is in the top 10 of the MIVA averaging 3.49 kills per game, including having a match-high 19 kills in a season-opening victory against No. 5 BYU. In addition, Caldwell has more than a .300 attack percentage in all but three matches he has played in this season for the undefeated Ramblers.
Chances of winning: Caldwell in the first half of the season has performed as well, if not better, than in the 2014 NCAA Tournament when he was named the Most Outstanding Player. Both Caldwell and Jaeschke, though, could overshadowed each other and split the voters wanting to give the award to a Loyola player.
Zack La Cavera, UC Irvine
His case: La Cavera despite missing the start of the season with an injury leads the MPSF with 27 aces and is among the conference leaders with a 3.40 kills per game average. The senior has also helped UC Irvine move into second place in the conference and a half-match behind first-place No. 5 BYU.
Chances of winning: La Cavera is a significant reason why the Anteaters lead the conference with a .352 attack percentage. If UC Irvine can win the MPSF championship, both La Cavera and Hershko will likely be in consideration for the National Player of the Year.
Geoff Powell, Lewis
His case: Powell is among the MIVA leaders and in nation’s top 20 with a .383 attack percentage and a 3.56 kills per game average. The senior also has help No. 2 Lewis both extend its winning streak to 10 match winning streak and reach its highest national ranking in almost a decade.
Chances of winning: Powell will be a contender for the this award but Lewis will likely need to beat Loyola for the MIVA championship for him to win the National Player of the Year.
Cody Kessel, Princeton
His case: Kessel is second in the nation with a 4.85 kills per game average, including having more than 20 kills in two matches so far this season. In addition, Kessel has helped lead No. 14 Princeton back into the national rankings.
Chances of winning: The only way Kessel likely wins this award is if he continues his current offensive production and Princeton defeats Penn State in the EIVA Tournament.
Aaron Russell, Penn State
His case: Russell is third in the nation averaging 4.48 kills per game and is among the national leaders with a .340 attack percentage.
Chances of winning: Russell has all the individual stats needed to win the National Player of the Year, but Penn State likely having double-digit losses by the end of the season will significantly hurt his chances.
Jake Langlois, BYU
His case: Langlois leads BYU and is in the top 10 of the MPSF with a 3.53 kills per game average. In addition, the Cougars are in sole possession of first place in the MPSF at the half-way point of the season.
Chances of winning: Langlois has a long-shot chance. However, he is the feel-good story of the year on a team that exceeded everyone’s preseason expectations. The longer BYU remains in first place expect for Langlois to gain momentum for this award, especially towards the end of the season.