An opposite who helped lead his team to a conference championship and a NCAA Tournament appearance is the recipient of one of the newest college men’s volleyball awards.
Off the Block announced Thursday that a nationwide voting committee selected Carthage opposite Griffin Shields as the 2016 Off the Block/Springbak Division III National Opposite of the Year.
Shields finished the season with a .335 attack percentage and fourth in the nation with a 4.00 kills per game average, including having double-digit kills in 21 matches. The All-American junior also had a team-high 37 aces as Carthage in the regular season defeated a NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team in non-conference play and went undefeated in conference play while earning the No. 3 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament.
Shields received half of the 14 first-place votes from a nationwide voting committee of Division III head coaches to become the inaugural winner of the National Opposite of the Year.
The top three vote-getters were named finalists for this national award.
SUNY New Paltz opposite Joe Norman earned four first-place votes and came in second place with 18 points — seven fewer points than Shields. In addition, Springfield opposite Greg Woods finished in third place and was the only other player to garner first-place votes.
Along with the National Opposite of the Year award, Off the Block will present four more inaugural Division III awards this year — the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Setter of the Year, the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Outside Attacker of the Year, the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Middle Attacker of the Year and the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Libero of the Year.
While several other volleyball organizations present Division III national honors, these will be the first national position-based awards in the history of Division III men’s volleyball. Off the Block also has presented similar position-based national awards for Division I-II men’s volleyball players during the last three seasons.
Off the Block is a college men’s volleyball website that launched in 2011 and is among the nation’s leaders in college men’s volleyball coverage. Springbak, Inc. is the official sponsor the new Division III national awards and produces high performance footwear used by professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, MLB and U.S. Olympic teams and the top college teams in the nation.
OFF THE BLOCK/SPRINGBAK, INC. DIVISION III NATIONAL OPPOSITE OF YEAR VOTING RESULTS
Griffin Shields, Carthage — 25 (7) points
Joe Norman, SUNY New Paltz — 18 (4) points
Greg Woods, Springfield — 16 (3) points
Travis Mintzer, Rutgers-Newark — 1 point