Off the Block unveils 2019 Freshmen All-American Team

Photo by Fabiana Huffaker

A nationwide voting committee selected 10 players to the annual Off the Block Freshmen All-American Team that was unveiled Friday.

The Off the Block Freshmen All-American Team honors the top NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball freshmen players from the regular season. This is the seventh year Off the Block has presented the national honor, which remains the only Freshmen All-American Team presented in college men’s volleyball.

UC Santa Barbara was the only team in the nation to have multiple players make the Freshmen All-American Team. Ball State, Barton, BYU, CSUN, Grand Canyon, Loyola, McKendree and Quincy each had one freshman earn the national honor.

Players eligible for the Off the Block Freshmen All-American Team had to be listed on the roster as a freshman or redshirt freshman for a NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball team.

A voting committee of about 20 men’s volleyball coaches and volleyball media members determined the Freshmen All-American Team. A player making the Freshmen All-American Team had to be among the top 10 vote-getters and appear on at least one-fourth of all the fully submitted voting ballots.

BYU outside attacker Davide Gardini led all players receiving votes on 17 ballots. In addition, UC Santa Barbara outside attacker Ryan Wilcox finished with the second-most votes.

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.

Off the Block annually presents college men’s volleyball national awards to recognize outstanding individual performances in the sport. Along with the Freshmen All-American Team, Off the Block during the regular season presents the National Freshman of the Week.

2019 Off the Block Freshmen All-American Team

Setter: Taylor Ittner, CSUN
Setter: Ryan Serrano, McKendree
Opposite: Luke Denton, Loyola
Outside attacker: Adrian Iglesias, Barton
Outside attacker: Davide Gardini, BYU
Outside attacker: Christian Janke, Grand Canyon
Outside attacker: Kaleb Jenness, Ball State
Outside attacker: Ryan Wilcox, UC Santa Barbara
Middle attacker: Brandon Hicks, UC Santa Barbara
Libero: Noam Hannoun, Quincy

Luke Denton, Loyola
Denton was limited in the second-half of the season but finished his freshman season with a 2.30 kills per game average. He also had double-digit kills in five matches, including a season-high 15 kills on a .524 attack percentage in a sweep against CSUN in January.

Davide Gardini, BYU
Gardini led all freshmen and was in the nation’s top 25 with a 3.47 kills per game average on a .320 attack percentage. The member of the Italian Men’s Junior National Team also had at least 20 kills in seven matches and led the nation as a three-time recipient of the Off the Block National Freshman of the Week.

Brandon Hicks, UC Santa Barbara
Hicks was third in the Big West with a 1.03 blocks per game average and had at least five blocks in seven matches. The middle attacker also had a .446 attack percentage, including hitting .588 along with a season-high 10 kills in a four-game loss to Pepperdine in January.

Noam Hannoun, Quincy
Hannoun as a freshman led the nation with a 2.95 digs per game average. He also had at least 20 digs in three MIVA matches, including a match-high 22 digs in a near upset of Lindenwood in February.

Adrian Iglesias, Barton
Iglesias was among the ConfCarolinas leaders with a 2.60 kills per game average, including contributing 14 kills while hitting .409 in an upset victory against USC in January. He also had double-digit kills in 15 matches as he helped Barton win the ConfCarolinas championship and reach the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.

Taylor Ittner, CSUN
Ittner was second among all freshmen in the nation with a 9.73 assists per game average and helped the Matadors finish with more than a .300 attack percentage in nine regular season matches. The setter also was in the top 10 of the Big West with a 1.66 digs per game average.

Christian Janke, Grand Canyon
Janke was third in the nation among all freshmen with a 2.96 kills per game average. The outside attacker finished the season with double-digit kills in 18 matches, including having back-to-back performances of at least 20 kills in matches at the Off the Block Grow the Game Challenge presented by MotorMVB.

Kaleb Jenness, Ball State
Despite suffering an injury towards the end of the season, Jenness still finished in the top 10 of the MIVA with a 2.83 kills per game average. The freshman from South Carolina also had double-digit kills in eight matches, including a season-high 22 kills on a .410 attack percentage in a near upset of UC Santa Barbara in January.

Ryan Serrano, McKendree
Serrano, the 2019 MIVA Freshman of the Year, was fourth among all freshmen in the nation with an 8.73 assists per game average. The setter also was among the MIVA leaders with both a 1.67 digs per game average and 66 blocks as he helped the Bearcats advance to the MIVA Tournament semifinals for the second time in program history.

Ryan Wilcox, UC Santa Barbara
Wilcox finished the season in the top 15 of the Big West averaging 2.54 kills per game, including having a 14 kills on a season-high .667 attack percentage in a sweep against BYU on Feb. 2. He also was in the conference’s top 10 with 25 aces as he helped the Gauchos almost earn the final at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.