Off the Block releases watch list for 2018 Lloy Ball Award

Sixteen college men’s volleyball setters have been selected to the 2018 watch list for the annual Lloy Ball Award.

Off the Block unveiled Tuesday 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 — BYU setter Leo Durkin, UCLA setter Micah Ma’a and Long Beach State setter Josh Tuaniga. Tuaniga enters his junior season attempting to repeat as the Lloy Ball Award winner, while Durkin was a 2017 finalist for the national award.

The watch list for the 2018 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 the 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, former Stanford setter James Shaw and Tuaniga.

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 the nation’s leader in college men’s volleyball coverage.

2018 Lloy Ball Award watch list

Paul Bischoff, Stanford
Luke Braswell, Penn State
Ian Cowen, Loyola
Nick Drooker, King
Leo Durkin, BYU
Pasquale Fiduccia, McKendree
Chase Johnson, Charleston
Gert Lisha, USC
Marko Kostich, Harvard
Micah Ma’a, UCLA
Brian Negron, George Mason
Sam Porter, CSUN
Frederico Santos, Fort Wayne
Josh Tuaniga, Long Beach State
Joe Worsley, Hawai’i
Matt Yoshimoto, Lewis

Lloy Ball Award watch list player bios

Paul Bischoff, Stanford
Bischoff in his freshman season started 20 matches and was among the national leaders with a 8.51 assists per game average. He also contributed 105 digs and earned Freshman All-MPSF Team honors as Stanford advanced to the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

Luke Braswell, Penn State
Braswell was fourth in the nation with a 10.44 assists per game average last season and guided the Nittany Lions to a EIVA-best .285 attack percentage. The setter also was named to the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshman All-American Team as Penn State won the EIVA championship and reached the NCAA Tournament play-in match.

Ian Cowen, Loyola
Cowen led all freshmen in the nation last season with 931 assists and among all players was in the nation’s top 20 averaging 9.31 assists per game. The Freshman All-MIVA setter also added 119 digs as Loyola reached the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals.

Nick Drooker, King
Drooker was fourth in the nation with 61 aces and was among the national leaders with a 9.95 assists per game average last season. He also helped King’s offense finish second in the Conference Carolinas with a .268 attack percentage. Drooker leads all active NCAA player with 2,957 career assists and returns for his senior season after the Tornado won share of the 2017 Conference Carolinas regular season title.

Leo Durkin, BYU
Durkin was sixth in the nation with a 10.38 assists per game average as he guided the BYU offense to the country’s fourth-best attack percentage at .321 last season. He also was a finalist for the 2017 Lloy Ball Award and helped the Cougars maj the NCAA Tournament finals for the second straight season.

Pasquale Fiduccia, McKendree
Fiduccia ended last season among the MIVA leaders and in the nation’s top 10 averaging 10.05 assists per game average. He also had both a career-high 184 digs and 61 blocks as he helped McKendree reach the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals.

Chase Johnson, Charleston
Johnson begins his college career after spending the offseason playing with the U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team at the 2017 FIVB U19 World Championship. He also helped his club team qualify for the 2017 USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championship.

Gert Lisha, USC
Lisha ended last season second in the nation with a 10.85 assists per game average. He also contributed both 124 digs and 15 aces to help the Trojans earn a berth to the 2017 MPSF Tournament.

Marko Kostich, Harvard
Kostich split playing time last season with setter Matthew Ctvrlik but still finished with a 4.95 assists per game average along with both a career-high 124 digs and 26 aces. In addition, Kostich earned Second-Team All-EIVA honors in 2017.

Micah Ma’a, UCLA
Despite missing part of the 2017 season because of an injury, Ma’a helped guide UCLA’s 6-2 offense to the third-best attack percentage in the nation at .326. He also had four matches with at least three aces and ended the season in the nation’s top 25 averaging 0.33 aces per game.

Brian Negron, George Mason
Negron ended last season among the EIVA and national leaders with a 9.63 assists per game average and added a career-high 21 aces. The All-EIVA setter also spent the offseason training with the Puerto Rican National Team.

Sam Porter, CSUN
Porter was in the nation’s top 10 last season with a 10.11 assists per game average and guided the CSUN offense to the eighth-best attack percentage in the nation at .310. CSUN officially left the MPSF during the offseason and will compete in the inaugural men’s volleyball season of the Big West conference.

Frederico Santos, Fort Wayne
Santos arrives to Fort Wayne after being the youngest player on the Portuguese roster for the 2017 FIVB World League and competing at the 2017 World University Games. The freshman also led his club volleyball team to three championships in Portugal’s top division.

Josh Tuaniga, Long Beach State
Tuaniga ended last season leading the country with an 11.06 assists per game average and guided the 49ers’ offense to a nation-best .366 attack percentage. The First-Team All-American also was the recipient of the 2017 Lloy Ball Award and helped Long Beach State make the NCAA Tournament semifinals for the second consecutive season.

Joe Worsley, Hawai’i
Worsley will battle for a spot in the Hawai’i starting lineup after coming off the bench last season primarily as a serving specialist and having nine aces. As a freshman during the 2016 season, he started 11 of the Rainbow Warriors’ final 15 matches of the season and had a 5.64 assists per game average

Matt Yoshimoto, Lewis
Yoshimoto in 2017 was among the national leaders with a 9.55 assists per game average and guided the Lewis offense to be in the nation’s top 10 with a .308 attack percentage. The Preseason All-MIVA setter during the offseason also trained with the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team.