Hawai’i duo, UCLA middle named finalists for 2019 International Player of Year

Photo courtesy of UCLA athletics and Don Liebig

A nationwide voting committee selected UCLA middle attacker Daenen Gyimah along with both Hawai’i opposite Rado Parapunov and outside attacker Stijn van Tilburg as the finalists for the annual International Player of the Year.

The International Player of the Year is presented to the best non-U.S. born player in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season. This is the only national award in college men’s volleyball recognizing the outstanding individual performances of international players who are pursuing their volleyball career and higher education in the United States.

Off the Block announced the finalists on Sunday and will unveil the award winner on Friday as part of its College Men’s Volleyball National Awards Presentation.

Gyimah is fifth in the nation with a .435 attack percentage and had double-digit kills in 15 regular season matches, including a season-high 25 kills while hitting .553 in a victory against Stanford in February. The member of the Canadian Men’s National B Team also contributed 81 blocks and started at multiple positions towards the end of the season because injuries to UCLA.

Parapunov with a 4.14 kills per game average and a .432 attack percentage is the only player in the nation’s top 10 for both of those offensive categories. The Bulgaria native also had three consecutive Big West matches with at least 20 kills, including 20 kills and hitting .552 in a sweep of UC Santa Barbara on April 5. Along with offensive performance, Parapunov is eighth in the country averaging 0.48 aces per game.

van Tilburg is in the nation’s top 10 averaging 3.92 kills per game and has the second-best attack percentage in the country at .473. The Netherlands Men’s National Team member had at least .500 attack percentage in 16 matches for the Rainbow Warriors. Among his top performances included a season-high 25 kills and zero errors on a .543 attack percentage as Hawai’i beat Long Beach State to win the Big West championship and earn the No. 1 overall seed to the NCAA Tournament.

The voting committee for the International Player of the Year was comprised of about 20 college men’s volleyball head coaches and volleyball reporters from around the nation.

The top three vote-getters were named finalists for this national honor.

This is the third year that Off the Block has presented the International Player of the year. Former Ohio State All-American outside attacker Nicolas Szerszen won the award the first two seasons.

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