Off the Block releases watch list for 2016 National Middle Attacker of Year

Twenty-one college men’s volleyball players have been selected to the 2016 watch list for the inaugural National Middle Attacker of the Year award.

Off the Block announced Saturday the watch list for the new national award presented to the best middle attacker in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season.


The watch list is highlighted with all six middle attackers named to the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American Team. Among those middle attackers includes Preseason First-Team All-Americans UC Irvine’s Jason Agopian, Loyola’s Jeff Jendryk and Lewis’ Bobby Walsh.

The National Middle Attacker of the Year watch list was determined by Off the Block using a variety of factors including player performances from previous seasons and projections on middle attackers to watch during the upcoming season.

The winner of the National Middle Attacker of the Year 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 National Middle Attacker of the Year presented by Off the Block.

This is one of five position-based awards presented in college men’s volleyball. Off the Block also presents the Bryan Ivie Award to the nation’s top opposite, the Karch Kiraly Award to the nation’s top outside attacker, the Lloy Ball Award to the nation’s top setter and the Erik Shoji Award for 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 2014 was specific to a position.

Similar to these other position-based awards, the National Middle Attacker of the Year will be renamed after a former standout player in college men’s volleyball history. Off the Block will announce the new name for the award during the upcoming season.

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


2016 NATIONAL MIDDLE ATTACKER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST
Jason Agopian, UC Irvine
Andy Benesh, USC
Matt Callaway, Penn State
Fabio Diniz, Pfeiffer
Enrique de Diego Garcia, Cal Baptist
Taylor Gregory, Long Beach State
Ryan Hardy, UC Santa Barbara
Michael Hatch, BYU
Jeff Jendryk, Loyola
Conrad Kaminski, Stanford
Mike Marshman, St. Francis
Joel Mulbach, Limestone
Junior Oboh, Princeton
Nicholas Olson, Loyola
Mitch Penning, Pepperdine
Jacob Schmiegelt, Lewis
Mitch Stahl, UCLA
Andrew Sydow, Mount Olive
Bobby Walsh, Lewis
Matt Walsh, Ball State
Christian Ward, Grand Canyon

NATIONAL MIDDLE ATTACKER OF THE YEAR PLAYER BIOS
Jason Agopian, UC Irvine — Agopian, a 2016 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason First-Team All-American, was fourth in the MPSF with a .402 attack percentage last season. The All-American also was in the conference’s top 10 with 118 blocks and helped lead the Anteaters to a MPSF championship and NCAA Tournament appearance.

Andy Benesh, USC — Benesh was among the MPSF leaders with both a .394 attack percentage and a 0.97 blocks per game average. He also spent the off-season playing with the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team and had double-digit kills in three matches at the FIVB U21 World Championship.

Matt Callaway, Penn State — Callaway was second in the EIVA with 92 blocks and had a .321 attack percentage last season. He also helped the Nittany Lions win the EIVA championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament semifinals.

Fabio Diniz, Pfeiffer — Diniz had a nation-best .517 attack percentage last season and was second in Conference Carolinas with a 1.06 blocks per game average. He also earned all-conference honors as Pfeiffer won the Conference Carolinas championship to earn the program’s first berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Enrique de Diego Garcia, Cal Baptist — Garcia was among the national leaders and led all MPSF freshmen with a 1.22 blocks per game average last season. He also set a MPSF single-match record with 16 blocks in a victory against UC San Diego in January.

Taylor Gregory, Long Beach State — Gregory, a finalist for the 2015 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Blocker of the Year, led the MPSF and was second in the nation with a 1.51 blocks per game average last season. The senior also was an all-conference honorable mention and helped Long Beach State reach the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

Ryan Hardy, UC Santa Barbara — Hardy was among the MPSF leaders last season with a 1.18 blocks per game average and a .359 attack percentage. The senior also helped the Gauchos reach the 2015 MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

Michael Hatch, BYU — Hatch was among the national leaders and third in the MPSF with a 1.30 blocks per game average last season. The all-conference senior also helped BYU advance to the 2015 MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

Conrad Kaminski, Stanford — Kaminski, a 2016 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American Team selection, was fifth in the MPSF with a .400 attack percentage last season. He also earned 2015 All-MPSF honors as Stanford ended in ninth place in the conference.

Jeff Jendryk, Loyola — Jendryk, the 2015 AVCA Newcomer of the Year and NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, finished with a .488 attack percentage and was among the national leaders with a 1.14 blocks per game average. He also was named the 2016 MIVA Preseason Player of the Year after helping lead the Ramblers to repeat as national champions last year.

Mike Marshman, St. Francis — Marshman was second in the EIVA with a .397 attack percentage and sixth in the conference with 74 blocks last season. He also earned First-Team All-EIVA honors as St. Francis ended the season in fifth place in the EIVA.

Joel Mulbach, Limestone — Mulbach ended last season in the top five of the Conference Carolinas with both a 1.02 blocks per game average and 89 blocks. He also earned all-conference honors as Limestone advanced to the Conference Carolinas Tournament semifinals.

Junior Oboh, Princeton — Oboh was in the top five of the EIVA with both a .386 attack percentage and a 1.01 blocks per game average last season. He also was an all-conference selection and helped lead Princeton to a berth in the four-team EIVA Tournament.

Nicholas Olson, Loyola — Olson, an Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American Team selection, finished last season third in the MIVA with a 1.38 blocks per game average and had a .552 attack percentage. The All-American also helped the Ramblers win their second consecutive NCAA championship.

Mitch Penning, Pepperdine — Penning was in the top 10 of the MPSF with a 1.16 blocks per game average last season. The junior also helped Pepperdine advance to the 2015 MPSF Tournament championship match.

Jacob Schmiegelt, Lewis — Schmiegelt ended last season in the top five of the MIVA with a 1.25 blocks per game average and had a .420 attack percentage. He also had a team-high eight blocks in NCAA Tournament finals as Lewis lost to Loyola in five games.

Mitch Stahl, UCLA — Stahl finished last season in the top 15 of the MPSF having a .365 attack percentage, a 0.96 blocks per game average and a 0.37 aces per game average. He also was an all-conference honorable mention as UCLA advanced to the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

Andrew Sydow, Mount Olive — Sydow was second in the Conference Carolinas with both 100 blocks and a .461 attack percentage last season. He also named the all-conference team and helped Mount Olive reach the Conference Carolinas Tournament semifinals.

Bobby Walsh, Lewis — Walsh was the recipient of the 2015 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Blocker of the Year and led the nation with a 1.54 blocks per game average. The All-American senior also finished with a .490 attack percentage and helped lead Lewis to the NCAA Tournament finals last season.

Matt Walsh, Ball State — Walsh, a finalist for the 2015 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Blocker of the Year, was third in the nation with a 1.39 blocks per game average. He also made the 2015 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-American Team as Ball State advanced to the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals.

Christian Ward, Grand Canyon — Ward was among the MIVA leaders last season with a 1.13 blocks per game average and added a .365 attack percentage. The senior also helped the Antelopes clinch a berth in the eight-team MIVA Tournament.