Mount Olive opposite Rutledge named National Freshman of the Week

A freshman is earning a national award after having a career performance during the weekend.

Off the Block announced Monday that Mount Olive opposite Bret Rutledge was selected as the Off the Block National Freshman of the Week.


Rutledge led all players with a season-high 27 kills on a .523 attack percentage in a five-game loss to Alderson Broaddus on Friday. He also had a match-high 16 kills and three aces in a road sweep against Charleston on Saturday to conclude Mount Olive’s non-conference road trip.

This is the second time in the two-year history of the award that a Mount Olive player has earned National Freshman of the Week honors. In addition, Rutledge becomes the third player from the Conference Carolinas to earn the weekly award.

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.

Off the Block National Freshman of the Week honorable mentions
Jalen Penrose, Penn State — Penrose finished with a match-high four aces and added nine kills to help No. 15 Penn State sweep No. 8 Long Beach State on Saturday. He also had eight digs in the victory as the Nittany Lions closed-out their West Coast road trip undefeated.

Matthew McManaway — McManaway led North Greenville with a season-high 19 kills on a .378 attack percentage in a five-game win against Holy Names on Tuesday. The outside attacker also added four blocks in the non-conference home victory to snap the Crusaders’ four-match losing streak.

Matt Walsh, Ball State — Walsh had a combined 11 blocks as No. 12 Ball State split a two-match conference home series against Grand Canyon during the weekend. He also had a season-high 10 kills on a .529 attack percentage in a five-game loss to the Antelopes on Friday.

Shalev Saada, Grand Canyon — Saada finished with 16 kills and added a season-high six blocks as Grand Canyon upset No. 12 Ball State in five games to open their two-match series on Friday. In addition, Saada had 11 kills in a three-game loss to the Cardinals on Saturday.

Nicholas Szerszen, Ohio State — Szerszen had 14 kills to help No. 11 Ohio State upset No. 2 Lewis in five games on Friday. He also had a team-high 10 kills in a three-game home loss to No. 1 Loyola on Saturday.

Alex Harthaller, IPFW — Harthaller had a match-high 22 kills and added seven digs as No. 14 IPFW defeated Belmont Abbey in four games on Tuesday. He also had 14 kills in four-game non-conference victories against both Limestone and Lourdes last week.

Christian Hessenauer, UCLA — Hessenauer had a match-high 17 kills and added seven digs in a four-game loss to No. 9 UC Santa Barbara on Friday.