Loyola setter Cowen named National Freshman of Week

A freshman who helped No. 11 Loyola pull off the biggest upset in the opening week of the college men’s volleyball season is now earning the first national accolade of his college career.

Off the Block announced Monday that Loyola setter Ian Cowen was selected as the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week.


Cowen had a match-high 11 digs and added 50 assists as he guided the Loyola offense to a .333 attack percentage in a four-game upset victory against No. 3 BYU on Saturday. He also helped Loyola hit a season-best .354 in a non-conference sweep versus NJIT on Thursday.

This is the fourth consecutive year that a Rambler has earned National Freshman of the Week honors.

The Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. 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 the nation’s leader in college men’s volleyball coverage.

Springbak, Inc. is the official sponsor of the 2017 Freshmen All-American Team and National Freshman of the Week 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.
National Freshman of the Week honorable mentions
Scott Stadick, UC Irvine — Stadick had a match-high nine blocks along with six kills and eight digs in a non-conference victory against Fort Wayne on Tuesday. He also had six kills and zero attack errors as No. 8 UC Irvine swept UC San Diego in its MPSF opener on Thursday.

Daenan Gyimah, UCLA — Gyimah had both a team-high 10 kills on a .500 attack percentage and five blocks in a sweep against No. 13 Penn State at the AVCA Showcase on Friday. He also added five kills and three blocks in a four-game loss to No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday.

Matt Szews, Ball State — Szews finished with a match-high 19 kills and added three blocks in a five-game season-opening win versus Princeton on Thursday. He also had a team-high 13 kills and added seven digs as No. 15 Ball State lost to No. 7 Hawai’i in the de-facto championship match of the Outrigger Invitational on Saturday.

Sam Schindler, Lindenwood — Schindler had a combined 33 kills in three matches last week, including a season-high 16 kills on a .538 attack percentage in a five-game loss to St. Francis. He also had six blocks in five-game losses to both Cal Baptist and Concordia-Irvine.

Calvin Mende, Penn State — Mende had a team-high 25 kills on a .525 attack percentage and added five blocks as No. 13 Penn State defeated USC in five games at the AVCA Showcase on Saturday.

Luke Braswell, Penn State — Braswell had 62 assists as he guided No. 13 Penn State to a .371 attack percentage in a five-game victory against USC on Saturday. The setter also had a team-high two aces while adding nine digs and three blocks in the non-conference victory.

Parker Dixon, Princeton — Dixon had a match-high 12 kills on a .588 attack percentage in a sweep against Erskine on Saturday at the Outrigger Invitational. He also had a combined 18 kills in a losses to No. 7 Hawai’i and No. 15 Ball State along with adding 12 digs versus the Cardinals.

Michael Fisher, St. Francis — Fisher had 10 kills on a .375 attack percentage in a road non-conference sweep against Cal Baptist on Friday. He also had 12 kills as St. Francis beat Lindenwood in five games on Saturday.

Paul Bischoff, Stanford — Bischoff had a combined 69 assists and guided No. 9 Stanford to more than a .350 attack percentage in non-conference sweep against Mount Olive and McKendree during the weekend.

Randy DeWeese, UC Santa Barbara — DeWeese had 45 assists and guided the offense to a .447 attack percentage as No. 12 UC Santa Barbara defeated McKendree on Friday. The setter also added three kills, four blocks and seven digs in the non-conference victory.

Devin Pontigon, UC San Diego — Pontigon had a team-high 14 kills and added seven digs in a four-game non-conference loss to Grand Canyon on Saturday.

Austin Matautia, Hawai’i — Matautia finished with 13 kills and 13 digs to help No. 7 Hawai’i defeat No. 15 Ball State in the championship match of the Outrigger Invitational on Saturday. He also had six kills on a .625 attack percentage in a sweep against Princeton on Friday.