A newly named starting setter who contributed to a non-conference upset victory and two EIVA wins that kept his team in first place is earning a national award.
Off the Block announced Monday that Penn State setter Nathan Smith was selected as the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week.
Smith starting in place of injured setter Luke Braswell guided the Penn State offense to out-hit its opponents in all three matches last week. The setter had a combined 98 assists and helped Penn State finish with at least a .290 attack percentage in victories against Princeton and NJIT that expanded the Nittany Lions’ first-place led in the EIVA.
Along with his offensive performance, Smith had a season-high 10 digs and four blocks as Penn State upset No. 1/1 Ohio State in five games on Tuesday.
This is the first time Smith has earned National Freshman of the Week honors. In addition, Smith joins opposite Calvin Mende as the only Nittany Lions to win the weekly award this season.
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
Ryan Coenen, Lewis — Coenen had a team-high 18 kills on a .324 attack percentage while adding two aces and eight digs in a five-game victory against No. 10/9 Loyola on Tuesday.
Matthew Ctvrtlik, Harvard — Ctvrtlik had a combined 11 kills on a .455 attack percentage and 10 digs as Harvard swept a two-match road series against Charleston during the weekend. The setter also had a combined 38 assists and helped the Crimson finish with at least a .325 attack percentage in each conference match.
Michael Fisher, St. Francis — Fisher returning to the court for the first time in almost a month had 15 kills and a season-high seven digs in a four-game victory against NJIT on Friday. He also had 14 kills and a match-high three aces as St. Francis beat Princeton in five games on Saturday.
George Huhmann, Princeton — Huhmann led all players with a season-high 12 blocks in a five-game overtime loss to No. 13 Penn State on Friday. The middle attacker also had 11 kills on a .714 attack percentage and a match-high five blocks in a five-game loss to St. Francis on Saturday.
Sam Greenslade, George Mason, Greenslade finished with a combined 24 kills on a .365 attack percentage in a two-match series sweep against Sacred Heart during the weekend. He also had a season-high six digs in the series-finale five-game victory.
Angelos Mandilaris, Barton — Mandilaris had 11 kills, two aces and eight digs as Barton defeated King in five games on Saturday to move into first place in the Conference Carolinas. He also had 10 kills and a team-high seven digs in a sweep against Lees-McRae on Friday.
Liam Maxwell, Belmont Abbey — Maxwell had a combined 41 kills in three conference victories last week, including a season-high 20 kills while hitting .400 in a five-game victory against Pfeiffer on Tuesday. He also had a season-high 17 digs in that win.
Scott Stadick, UC Irvine — Stadick had a match-high six blocks along with seven kills on a .417 attack percentage in a four-game victory against No. 9 Stanford on Friday.