Two freshmen after helping their teams win crucial matches during the weekend are now winning a share of a national award.
Off the Block announced Monday that both UCLA outside attacker Jake Arnitz and Loyola opposite Ben Plaisted were named the Co-National Freshman of the Week.
Arnitz led all players with 16 kills and added three aces to help No. 11 UCLA upset its rival No. 3 USC in four games on Sunday. The outside attacker also had seven kills and a team-high six digs in a sweep against Cal Baptist on Tuesday.
Plaisted had a match-high 14 kills on a .407 attack percentage as No. 1 Loyola defeated Penn State in four games on Saturday to remain the only undefeated team in the nation. In addition, Plaisted added two aces in the non-conference victory.
This is the first time this season that there has been co-winners to the weekly national award. It is also the first time in their college careers that Plaisted and Arnitz have earned National Freshman of the Week honors.
The Off the Block National Freshman of the Week is presented each week during the regular season to the NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball freshman who had the most outstanding performance. 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.
Off the Block is a website that started in January 2011 and has become among the national leaders in college men’s volleyball coverage.
National Freshman of the Week honorable mentions
Brenden Sander, BYU — Sander finished with a season-high 15 kills to help No. 5 BYU defeat No. 8 Long Beach State in four games on Saturday. He also had two aces and five digs in the home win that moved BYU into sole possession of first place in the MPSF.
Kyle Dagostino, Stanford — Dagostino had a season-high 51 assists and added eight digs as Stanford almost upset No. 4 UC Irvine before losing in five games on Friday. In addition, Dagostino guided Stanford’s offense to a .356 attack percentage in a four-game non-conference victory against Hope International.
Matt Walsh, Ball State — Walsh led all players with eight blocks and added five kills on a .625 attack percentage to help No. 15 Ball State sweep No. 12 Ohio State on Saturday. He also had a match-high four blocks in a sweep against McKendree on Friday.
Nicolas Szerszen, Ohio State — Szerszen finished with both a match-hight 10 kills and 13 digs as No. 12 Ohio State swept No. 9 IPFW on Friday. He also led all players with 13 kills in a three-game loss to No. 15 Ball State on Saturday.
Brian Negron, George Mason — Negron had 31 assists and guided George Mason’s offense to a season-high .493 attack percentage in a sweep against Lees-McRae on Friday. The freshman setter in the victory also had five kills and a team-high three blocks.
Peyton Schirman, Mount Olive — Schirman in his first match back after missing almost three weeks of the season had a team-high 13 kills and five aces in a five-game comeback victory against Limestone on Friday. He also led Mount Olive with 17 kills in five-game loss to Pfeiffer on Saturday.