Ball State outside Szews named National Freshman of Week

A freshman who led No. 12 Ball State both on offense and defensive in its first two conference matches is earning the first national award of his college career.

Off the Block announced Monday that Ball State outside attacker Matt Szews was selected as the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week.


Szews finished with 10 kills on a .348 attack percentage, while adding two aces and a match-high eight digs in a sweep against McKendree on Saturday. He also had a team-high 14 kills on a .333 attack percentage in a three-game loss to No. 1/1 Ohio State on Thursday.

This is the third consecutive year a Ball State player has earned National Freshman of the Year honors. Middle attacker Matt Walsh earned the honor in 2015, and libero Adam Wessel was a recipient last year.

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
George Huhmann, Princeton — Huhmann finished with 11 kills and a team-high three aces in a four-game loss to UC San Diego on Wednesday. He also had a match-high 13 kills and led Princeton with three blocks in a three-game loss to Concordia-Irvine on Friday.

Luke Braswell, Penn State — Braswell had 35 assists and guided Penn State to a .423 attack percentage in a sweep against St. Francis on Friday. The setter also had a match-high three blocks and added six digs in the Nittany Lions’ conference opener.

Calvin Mende, Penn State — Mende finished with 11 kills on a .474 attack percentage as No. 14 Penn State swept St. Francis on Friday.

Liam Maxwell, Belmont Abbey — Maxwell had a combined 35 kills in three matches last week, including a match-high 14 kills in a conference victory against Lees-McRae on Wednesday. He also had 11 kills on a .310 attack percentage, while adding seven digs and three blocks in a five-game win versus Coker on Friday.

Scott Stadick, UC Irvine — Stadick had 12 kills on a .450 attack percentage and added an ace in a four-game loss to USC on Friday.

Ryan Lew, UC San Diego — Lew finished with a team-high 10 digs as UC San Diego upset USC on Saturday to end a 49-match MPSF losing streak. The libero also added five digs in a four-game non-conference victory against Princeton on Wednesday.

Luca Berger, Coker — Berger had a season-high five aces along with six kills on a .500 attack percentage in a sweep against North Greenville on Saturday. He also had two aces in a five-game loss to Belmont Abbey on Friday.