Off the Block releases watch list for 2016 Karch Kiraly Award

Twenty-seven college men’s volleyball players have been selected to the 2016 watch list for the annual Karch Kiraly Award.

Off the Block announced Thursday the preseason watch list for the national award that is presented to the best outside attacker in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season.


Among the players making the watch list includes all five Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American Team outside attackers — BYU’s Jake Langlois and Brenden Sander, Ohio State’s Nicolas Szerszen, Hawai’i’s Sinisa Zarkovic and UCLA’s JT Hatch. In addition, more than 10 outside attackers who earned all-conference honors last season were selected to the watch list.

This Karch Kiraly Award watch list was determined by Off the Block using a variety of factors including player performances from previous seasons and projections on opposites to watch during the upcoming season.

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

The Karch Kiraly Award started in 2015 and was named after the former UCLA All-American and U.S. Olympian gold medalist. The naming of the award after a player was done in an effort to honor and incorporate the history of college volleyball into this award

This is one of five position-based awards presented in college men’s volleyball. Off the Block also presents the Lloy Ball Award to the nation’s top setter, the Bryan Ivie Award to the nation’s top opposite and the Erik Shoji Award to the nation’s top libero.

These are the only national position-based award in college men’s volleyball. Several volleyball organizations give out national end-of-year awards such as All-American Teams, but no national award before last year was specific to a position.

Off the Block launched in 2011 and in recent years has emerged among the nation’s leaders in college men’s volleyball coverage.


2016 KARCH KIRALY AWARD WATCH LIST
Nolan Albrecht, Belmont Abbey
Jake Arnitz, UCLA
Stephen Braswell, St. Francis
TJ DeFalco, Long Beach State
Jake Duckworth, Lindenwood
Kupono Fey, Hawai’i
Jabarry Goodridge, NJIT
Alex Harthaller, IPFW
JT Hatch, UCLA
Madison Hayden, Stanford
Sonny Hirini, Pfeiffer
Miles Johnson, Ohio State
Jake Langlois, BYU
Jonathan Martinez, Pfeiffer
Ryan Mather, Grand Canyon
Michael Michelau, Erskine
Eddie Moushikhian, King
Chris Nugent, Penn State
Roberto Perez, Erskine
Radoslav Popov, George Mason
Kyle Russell, UC Irvine
Brenden Sander, BYU
Alex Slaught, USC
Devin Stearns, Princeton
Nicolas Szerszen, Ohio State
Pierre Tang-Taye, Barton
Sinisa Zarkovic, Hawai’i

KARCH KIRALY AWARD WATCH LIST PLAYER BIOS
Nolan Albrecht, Belmont Abbey — Albrecht, the 2015 Conference Carolinas Comeback Athlete of the Year, returned to the starting lineup after missing the entire 2014 season with an injury and finished last season among the national leaders with a 3.78 kills per game average. He also earned all-conference honors and helped Belmont Abbey clinch a berth in the eight-team Conference Carolinas Tournament.

Jake Arnitz, UCLA — Arnitz finished the 2015 regular season second on UCLA with a 2.79 kills per game average and led all MPSF freshmen with a 0.31 aces per game average. He also earned Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-American Team honors as UCLA qualified for the 2015 MPSF Tournament.

Stephen Braswell, St. Francis — Braswell in his first season as a starter led St. Francis and was among the EIVA leaders with a 2.54 kills per game. The junior also helped St. Francis finish last season in fifth place in the EIVA.

TJ DeFalco, Long Beach State — DeFalco enters his freshman season after being ranked the No. 1 high school recruit in the nation by Volleyball Magazine. The outside attacker also had three matches with double-digit kills at the FIVB U19 Youth World Championship in August to help the United States advance to the quarterfinals.

Jake Duckworth, Lindenwood — Duckworth was in the top 25 of MIVA with both a 2.22 kills per game average and a 0.34 aces per game average last season. He also had 10 kills as Lindenwood defeated IPFW in the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals for the program’s first postseason victory since becoming a NCAA Division II member.

Kupono Fey, Hawai’i — Fey finished last season among the Hawai’i team leaders with both a 2.03 kills per game average and an 1.55 digs per game averge. Along with helping Hawai’i reach the 2015 NCAA Tournament, Fey spent the off-season playing with the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team at the FIVB U-21 World Championship.

Jabarry Goodridge, NJIT — Goodridge was in the top five of the EIVA with a 3.48 kills per game average and was a 2015 all-conference selection. In addition, Goodridge playing for the Barbados Junior National Team during the summer earn the Best Scorer award at the Pan American Cup.

Alex Harthaller, IPFW — Harthaller was in the top 20 of the MIVA with both a 2.96 kills per game average and a .274 attack percentage last season. He also earned Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-American Team honors in 2015 and helped IPFW finish in fourth place in the MIVA.

JT Hatch, UCLA — Hatch, an Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American selection, led all MPSF freshmen and was in the conference’s top 15 with a 2.91 kills per game average last season. He also was the 2015 MPSF Freshman of the Year and earned Freshmen All-American Team honors as the Bruins advanced to the conference tournament quarterfinals.

Madison Hayden, Stanford — Hayden was in the top 10 of the MPSF with a 3.11 kills per game average and had double-digit kills in 13 matches last season. He also helped Stanford finish in ninth place in the MPSF.

Sonny Hirini, Pfeiffer — Hirini ended last season in the Conference Carolinas’ top 10 with both a 3.40 kills per game average and a .280 attack percentage. The all-conference senior also helped Pfeiffer win the Conference Carolinas championship and earn the program’s first berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Miles Johnson, Ohio State — Johnson was among the MIVA leaders last season with a 3.01 kills per game average. He also was named to the 2016 Preseason All-MIVA Team after helping the Buckeyes reach the 2015 conference tournament semifinals.

Jake Langlois, BYU — Langlois, a 2016 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American, led BYU and was eighth in the MPSF with a 3.19 kills per game average. He also in his first season as a starter earned all-conference honors as BYU advanced to the 2015 MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

Jonathan Martinez, Pfeiffer — Martinez earned all-conference honors last season and finished in the top 10 of the Conference Carolinas with both a 3.33 kills per game average and a .317 attack percentage. In addition, Martinez had a team-high 11 kills as Pfeiffer making its first NCAA Tournament appearance lost to Loyola in the play-in match.

Ryan Mather, Grand Canyon — Mather was fourth in the MIVA and among the national leaders with a 3.69 kills per game average and earned all-conference honors last season. The 2016 Preseason All-MIVA Team selection also helped the Antelopes clinch a berth in the eight-team MIVA Tournament.

Michael Michelau, Erskine — Michelau was third in the nation averaging 4.27 kills per game average and fourth in the Conference Carolinas with a .336 attack percentage last season. The junior also earned all-conference honors as Erskine advanced to the 2015 Conference Carolinas Tournament championship match.

Eddie Moushikhian, King — Moushikhian finished sixth in the Conference Carolinas with a 3.45 kills per game average last season. The senior also earned all-conference honors as King qualified for the Conference Carolinas Tournament for one of the first times in its program’s history.

Chris Nugent, Penn State — Nugent was in the top 10 of the EIVA with 26 aces last season, while also being among the conference leaders with a 2.40 kills per game average and a .264 attack percentage. In addition, Nugent helped the Nittany Lions advance to the 2015 NCAA Tournament semifinals.

Roberto Perez, Erskine — Perez was eighth in the nation with a 3.94 kills per game average and led the Conference Carolinas with 42 aces last season. The sophomore also was an all-conference selection as Erskine reached the Conference Carolinas Tournament championship match.

Radoslav Popov, George Mason — Popov ended last season among the EIVA leaders with a 2.69 kills per game average and a .254 attack percentage. The junior also was an all-conference selection as the Patriots advanced to the EIVA Tournament championship match.

Kyle Russell, UC Irvine — Russell despite missing the second half of the 2015 season finished among the UC Irvine team leaders with a 2.48 kills per game average and seventh in the conference with a 0.36 aces per game average. He also spent the off-season playing for the United States at the World University Games.

Brenden Sander, BYU — Sander, a 2016 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American, ended last season with a 2.26 kills per game average. He also made the 2015 All-MPSF Freshmen Team and helped the Cougars reach the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

Alex Slaught, USC — Slaught ended last season among the MPSF leaders with a 2.96 kills per game average. The senior also was an all-conference honorable mention as USC reached the 2015 MPSF Tournament semifinals.

Devin Stearns, Princeton — Stearns ended last season in the top 20 of the EIVA with both a 2.59 kills per game average and .239 attack percentage. The senior also helped the Tigers advance to the four-team EIVA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season.

Nicolas Szerszen, Ohio State — Szerszen, a 2016 Preseason All-MIVA Team selection, finished in the conference’s top 10 with both a 3.10 kills per game average and a .307 attack percentage. He also made the 2015 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-American Team and helped the Buckeyes advance to the MIVA Tournament semifinals.

Pierre Tang-Taye, Barton — Tang-Taye was fourth in the Conference Carolinas averaging 3.89 kills per game and among the national leaders with 995 attack attempts last season. The junior also was an all-conference selection as he helped Barton clinch a berth in the Conference Carolinas Tournament.

Sinisa Zarkovic, Hawai’i — Zarkovic, an Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason First-Team All-American selection, ended last season in the top 10 of the MPSF with a 3.20 kills per game average. The All-American senior also helped the Rainbow Warriors earn an at-large berth to the 2015 NCAA Tournament.