Off the Block releases watch list for 2019 Lloy Ball Award

Photo courtesy of Long Beach State athletics.

Sixteen college men’s volleyball setters have earned a spot on the 2019 watch list for the annual Lloy Ball Award.

Off the Block unveiled Thursday 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 the watch list includes four Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-Americans — UCLA’s Micah Ma’a, Long Beach State’s Josh Tuaniga, Hawai’i’s Joe Worsley and Loyola’s Garrett Zolg. In addition, Tuaniga has won the Lloy Ball Award in back-to-back seasons, while Ma’a was a finalist for the national honor last season.

The watch list for the 2019 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 IPFW 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.

Tuaniga also has a chance this season to become the first three-time winner of the national award.

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 until the Lloy Ball Award started in 2014 were specific to a position.

Off the Block is a national award winning college men’s volleyball website that launched in 2011 and in is the nation’s leader in college men’s volleyball coverage.

2019 Lloy Ball Award watch list

Paul Bischoff, Stanford
Luke Braswell, Penn State
Matthew Ctvrtlik, Harvard
Dante Chakravorti, UC Irvine
Oscar Fiorentino, Barton
Chandler Gibb, Concordia-Irvine
Michael Keegan, Purdue Fort Wayne
Joe Kelly, Princeton
Micah Ma’a, UCLA
Robert Mullahey, Pepperdine
Jake Romano, Ball State
Sanil Thomas, Ohio State
Josh Tuaniga, Long Beach State
Joe Worsley, Hawai’i
Matt Yoshimoto, Lewis
Garrett Zolg, Loyola Chicago

Watch list player bios

Compiled by Off the Block special contributor Brandon Johnson

Paul Bischoff, Stanford
Bischoff missed substantial time in 2018 due to injuries and played in only seven matches. However, he averaged 10.31 assists per game and with the Cardinal returning plenty of firepower on the pins, he could see those numbers go up.

Luke Braswell, Penn State
Braswell led the EIVA with a 9.62 assists per game average last season and guided the Penn State offense to a conference-best .286 attack percentage.

Matthew Ctvrtlik, Harvard
Ctvrtlik running Harvard’s 6-2 offense last season finished with a 5.14 assists per game average and 1.26 kills per game average. The Second-Team All-EIVA setter also was in the conference’s top 10 averaging 1.87 digs per game as he helped Harvard win the EIVA title for the first time in program history.

Dante Chakravorti, UC Irvine
In his first season as a starting setter, Chakravorti finished second in the Big West with 10.54 assists per game average while being a All-Big West Honorable Mention. The Anteaters return most of their offensive production so look for Chakravorti to continue putting up strong numbers.

Oscar Fiorentino, Barton
Fiorentino led the Bulldogs to the nation’s 10th-best attack percentage at .290 last season. He also earned Second-Team All-ConfCarolinas honors as Barton won a share of the conference regular season title.

Chandler Gibb, Concordia-Irvine
Gibb collected a 9.72 assists per game average, good for being in the top 15 nationally. He also was a Second-Team All-MPSF selection and helped the Eagles in their inaugural year in the MPSF advance to the conference tournament semifinals last season.

Michael Keegan, Purdue Fort Wayne
Keegan dished out a 9.63 assists per game average in 2018, good for 15th in the country. The Second-Team All-MIVA Setter also was in the top five of the MIVA with a 2.23 digs per game average.

Joe Kelly, Princeton
Kelly as a freshman last season led the EIVA was 1,030 assists and was second in the conference with a 9.36 kills per game average. He also spent the offseason playing with the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team.

Micah Ma’a, UCLA
Ma’a earned First-Team All-America honors and was a Lloy Ball Award finalist in 2018 after averaging 10.55 assists per game, the fourth best in the county. From the service line, he was in the nation’s top 20 with .448 aces per game average. The 2019 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American, set the Bruins to a .350 hitting efficiency, which ranked second in the country last season.

Robert Mullahey, Pepperdine
Mullahey’s 10.58 assists per set led the MPSF and ranked fourth nationally. He set the Waves to a top-10 hitting efficiency in the country at .294 and earned Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-American Team and MPSF All-Freshman Team honors.

Jake Romano, Ball State
Romano in his first season as the Cardinals starting setter finished seventh in the MIVA with a 9.05 assists per game average. He also was in the conference’s top 15 with both 27 aces and a 1.80 digs per game average as he earned Second-Team All-MIVA honors.

Sanil Thomas, Ohio State
Thomas, a finalist for the 2018 Lloy Ball Award, led the country in assists per game averaging 11.28 while setting the Buckeyes to a .343 hitting percentage, good for the third in the country. He also picked up First-Team All-MIVA and All-American Honorable Mention accolades along the way.

Josh Tuaniga, Long Beach State
Tuaniga took home this award in 2018 and earned the AVCA National Player of the Year after leading the 49ers to a nation-best .375 hitting efficiency while averaging 10.43 assists per game. The 2019 Preseason All-American dished out 46 assists in last season’s final match as Long Beach State took down UCLA in five games to win the NCAA championship. The setter following that match was selected as the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

Joe Worsley, Hawai’i
Worsley, an Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American, led the Big West in assists and finished second nationally averaging 11.02 per game whiling garnering First-Team All-Big West Honors last season. Worsley will try to best his 2018 marks as leads an exciting offense that returns the majority their offensive starters for the upcoming season.

Matt Yoshimoto, Lewis
Yoshimoto collected a 9.52 assists per game average in 2018 and earned Second-Team All-MIVA honors. He guided the Flyers to a .312 hitting efficiency which was good for seventh in the country. Defensively, he averaged a 1.62 digs per game.

Garrett Zolg, Loyola Chicago
Zolg as a freshman last season averaged 10.32 assists per game, which was good for second in the MIVA and seventh nationally. The 2019 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American was the MIVA Freshman of the Year and a First-Team All-MIVA selection in 2018. He also guided the Ramblers to a .308 hitting percentage, which was the eighth best in the country.