Grand Canyon setter Kaniho wins National Player of the Month

Setter Puna Kaniho sets a ball during the Grow the Game Challenge on Jan. 14 in Nashville. Kaniho was named the National Player of the Month for January.
Photo by Jay Sowers.

Senior setter Puna Kaniho capped off his first month in the Grand Canyon starting lineup with a national award.

Kaniho received almost 1,000 votes in the championship round to win the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Player of the Month for January.

The Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Player of the Month recognizes the best individual performances from NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball players during the month and gives fans from around the world the chance to determine who was the best player through online voting. It is also the only college men’s volleyball national monthly award.

Kaniho guided No. 10/10 Grand Canyon to the fifth-best attack percentage in the nation at .329 and is among the national leaders with a 10.07 assists per game average. He also helped Grand Canyon move into the top 10 of the national rankings for the first time in program history.

The setter earned 36.7 percent of the vote and edged out the runner-up Long Beach State All-American opposite Kyle Ensing by 73 votes to win the national award. Besides Kaniho and Ensing, Limestone libero Florian Ruhm, was the only other finalist to receive more than 10 percent of the vote.

Six finalists advanced to the championship round in the two-round format of the National Player of the Month contest.

The first round placed candidate on one of five ballots based on their position. Each winner and the runner-up from all the ballots who received the most votes qualified for the championship round.

Kaniho earned 744 votes and 38.6 percent of the total vote in the first-round to win the setter division.

More than 10,000 votes were cast throughout this National Player of the Month event.

The National Player of the Month is one of two awards solely determined by the fans. Similar to the monthly award, the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Fan Choice National Player of the Year is an annual event at the end of the season with fans deciding the winner of this 64-player bracket-style tournament through online voting.

Kaniho as a National Player of the Month winner will receive an automatic berth to the Fan Choice National Player of the Year Tournament.

Off the Block was founded in 2011 and is one of the nation’s leaders in college men’s volleyball coverage. Springbak, Inc. is the official sponsor of the National Player of the Month and the Fan Choice National Player of the Year. Springbak, Inc. 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.