Lewis, Long Beach, UCLA players chosen as finalists for Dain Blanton Diversity Award

Photo courtesy of Lewis athletics

A nationwide voting committee selected UCLA middle attacker Daenan Gyimah, Lewis middle attacker Tyler Mitchem and Long Beach State setter Josh Tuaniga as finalists for the inaugural Dain Blanton Diversity Award.

The Dain Blanton Diversity Award, which is named after the former Pepperdine All-American and U.S. Olympian, recognizes the top NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball player during the regular season of a minority ethnicity.

This is the only national award in college men’s volleyball created specifically to celebrate the outstanding individual performances of minority players. Players of all backgrounds have significantly contributed throughout the history college men’s volleyball helping teams win NCAA champions and earning numerous All-American honors.

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 African Canadian middle attacker also contributed 81 blocks and started at multiple positions towards the end of the season because injuries to UCLA.

Mitchem had a nation-best .505 attack percentage and double-digit kills in nine matches, including 11 kills and zero errors while hitting .846 in a conference sweep against Ball State in February. He also was in the top 10 of the nation averaging 1.13 blocks per game as he helped the Flyers win the MIVA championship and reach the NCAA Tournament.

Tuaniga is third in the country averaging 10.72 assists per game and led the defending NCAA champion 49ers to the second-best attack percentage in the nation at .411. The senior also was among the nation’s leaders for setters with a 1.53 digs per game average and contributed to Long Beach State earning the No. 2 overall seed for the NCAA Tournament.

The voting committee for the Dain Blanton Diversity Award was comprised of 16 college men’s volleyball head coaches and volleyball media members from around the nation.

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

The Dain Blanton Diversity Award is one of several end of season awards presented by Off the Block. Among the other national awards includes the Lloy Ball Award to the nation’s top setter, the Karch Kiraly Award to the nation’s top outside attacker, the Bryan Ivie Award to the nation’s top opposite, the Erik Shoji Award to the nation’s top libero and the Ryan Millar Award to the nation’s top middle attacker.

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.