Twenty college men’s volleyball setters have been selected to the 2017 watch list for the annual Lloy Ball Award.
Off the Block unveiled Monday the watch list for the national award that is presented to the best setter in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season.
Among the setters making this season’s watch list includes three Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-Americans — Ohio State setter Christy Blough, UCLA setter Micah Ma’a and Long Beach State setter Josh Tuaniga. In addition, both Blough and Tuaniga were finalists for the Lloy Ball Award last season.
The watch list for the 2017 Lloy Ball Award was determined by Off the Block using a variety of factors including player performances from previous seasons and projections on standout setters to watch during the upcoming season.
The winner of the Lloy Ball 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 Lloy Ball Award presented by Off the Block.
The Lloy Ball Award started in 2014 and was named after former Fort Wayne All-American setter and U.S. Olympic gold medalist Lloy Ball. 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.
Previous winners of the Lloy Ball Award are former USC setter Micah Christenson, former Pepperdine setter Matt West and former Stanford setter James Shaw.
This is one of five position-based awards presented in college men’s volleyball. Off the Block presents the Bryan Ivie Award to the nation’s top opposite, the Karch Kiraly Award to the nation’s top outside attacker, the Ryan Millar Award to the nation’s top middle attacker and the Erik Shoji Award to the nation’s top libero.
These are the only national position-based awards 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 is among the nation’s leaders in college men’s volleyball coverage.
2017 LLOY BALL AWARD WATCH LIST
Christy Blough, Ohio State
Caleb Bonaventure, Emmanuel
Nick Drooker, King
Leo Durkin, BYU
Thane Fanfulik, Quincy
Daniel Ford, St. Francis
Jennings Franciskovic, Hawai’i
Michael Keegan, Fort Wayne
Marko Kostich, Harvard
Brian Negron, George Mason
Micah Ma’a, UCLA
Federico Pagliara, Barton
Sam Porter, CSUN
Michael Saeta, UC Irvine
Alexander Schinzing, North Greenville
Joshua Stewart, Pepperdine
Josh Tuaniga, Long Beach State
Joe Worsley, Hawai’i
Jeff Yasalonis, Mount Olive
Matt Yoshimoto, Lewis
LLOY BALL AWARD WATCH LIST PLAYER BIOS
Christy Blough, Ohio State — Blough was second in the nation with an 11.21 assists per game average last season and guided the Buckeyes to the nation’s second-best attack percentage at .350. He also earned Second-Team All-American honors and was a finalist for the Lloy Ball Award as Ohio State won the 2016 NCAA championship. In addition, Blough was selected as a 2017 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American.
Caleb Bonaventure, Emmanuel — Bonaventure as a freshman last season finished in the nation’s top 20 with a 9.66 assists per game average. He also added 29 aces and 106 digs as Emmanuel finished in seventh place in the Conference Carolinas.
Nick Drooker, King — Drooker had more than 1,000 assists and was fifth in the nation with 54 aces last season. He also added a team-high 2.02 digs per game average as King reached the 2016 Conference Carolinas Tournament quarterfinals.
Leo Durkin, BYU — Durkin, who finished sixth in the Lloy Ball Award voting last season, was in the nation’s top 10 with a 10.54 assists per game and guided BYU to a nation-best .360 attack percentage. The junior in 2016 also had 73 blocks as he earned All-MPSF honors and helped the Cougars reach the NCAA Tournament finals.
Thane Fanfulik, Quincy — Fanfulik was one of five setters in the nation to have more than 1,100 assists last season. The senior in 2016 also added 26 aces and 166 digs as he helped Quincy earn a berth to the MIVA Tournament.
Daniel Ford, St. Francis — Ford was among the EIVA and national leaders last season with a 10.05 assists per game average, including having 47 assists in an upset victory against Penn State in the EIVA Tournament semifinals. The senior also added more than 125 digs and 40 blocks as he finished 10th in the Lloy Ball Award voting last season.
Jennings Franciskovic, Hawai’i — Franciskovic started 17 matches last season had five matches with more than 40 assists. The 2015 All-MPSF selection also started the team’s 2016 season-ending loss to UCLA in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.
Michael Keegan, Fort Wayne — Keegan starting as a freshman last season was among the MIVA leaders with a 9.38 assists per game average. He also had a .529 attack percentage and added 135 digs as he helped the Mastodons earn a berth to the MIVA Tournament.
Marko Kostich, Harvard — Kostich was among the EIVA leaders with a 9.73 assists per game average last season and guided the Harvard offense to the nation’s ninth best attack percentage at .298. The All-EIVA selection also added 23 aces and 122 digs as he helped the Crimson earn a berth in the EIVA Tournament.
Brian Negron, George Mason — Negron led the EIVA and was in the nation’s top 10 with a 10.54 assists per game average last season. The all-conference selection also added more than 100 digs and 30 blocks as George Mason won the 2016 EIVA title to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in almost 30 years.
Micah Ma’a, UCLA — Ma’a running UCLA’s 6-2 offense guided the team during the regular season to the nation’s sixth best attack percentage at .309 and had double-digit kills in nine matches. As a freshman last season, he was an Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshman All-American, an AVCA First-Team All-American and a finalist for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Server of the Year as he helped lead UCLA to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. In addition, Ma’a was named a 2017 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. First-Team Preseason All-American
Federico Pagliara, Barton — Pagliara was second in the Conference Carolinas and in the nation’s top 10 with a 10.84 assists per game average last season as he guided Barton to a .293 attack percentage. The junior also earned second-team all-conference honors and helped Barton reach the 2016 Conference Carolinas Tournament finals.
Sam Porter, CSUN — Porter had the second-most assists for a freshman last season with 1,015 and had a 9.95 assists per game average. He also had 101 digs and 49 blocks as CSUN narrowly missed the final berth to the eight-team MPSF Tournament in 2016.
Michael Saeta, UC Irvine — Saeta splitting time at setter and opposite last season earned All-MPSF honors as he had a 1.97 kills per game average and a MPSF-best 0.52 aces per game average. With Preseason All-American opposite Tamir Hershko returning after missing most of last season because of an injury, UC Irvine coach David Kniffin said previously that Saeta will be on the court but his position in the Anteaters’ starting lineup is unknown.
Alexander Schinzing, North Greenville — Schinzing was among the Conference Carolinas leaders with a 9.39 assists per game average last season. He also had a team-high 31 aces as he helped the second-year program North Greenville reach the Conference Carolinas Tournament for the second straight year.
Joshua Stewart, Pepperdine — Stewart in his first season as the team’s starting setter finished 2016 among the MPSF leaders with a 10.12 assists per game average. He also had a career-high 59 assists in an upset victory against BYU last season and helped Pepperdine earn a berth to the MPSF Tournament.
Josh Tuaniga, Long Beach State — Tuaniga, a finalist for the 2016 Lloy Ball Award, finished the 2016 regular season leading the MPSF and third in the nation with an 11.12 assists per game average. The Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshman All-American also guided the 49ers’ offense in the regular season to the nation’s fourth best attack percentage at .331 and helped Long Beach State advance to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. In addition, Tuaniga earned 2017 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason First-Team All-American honors.
Joe Worsley, Hawai’i — Worsley as a freshman started 11 of the Rainbow Warriors’ final 15 matches last season and helped the team reach the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals. He also ended the season with a 5.64 assists per game average, including a season-high 59 assists and 10 digs in a five-game victory against UC Irvine.
Jeff Yasalonis, Mount Olive — Yasalonis ended last season in the nation’s top 10 with a 10.48 assists per game average and added more than 100 digs. He also was named the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Player of the Month for January and helped Mount Olive earn a berth to the Conference Carolinas Tournament.
Matt Yoshimoto, Lewis — Yoshimoto in limited playing time last season as the back-up to All-American setter Scott Fifer finished with 164 assists and 10 blocks. In addition, the Flyers went 3-1 in matches last season when Yoshimoto had significant playing time.