Multiple college players make preliminary rosters for Olympic qualification events

Photo by Fabiana Huffaker

The Olympic qualification tournaments will be littered with current college men’s volleyball players.

Seven players from NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball teams earned spots on their home countries’ preliminary rosters for the Olympic qualification tournaments that will take place this weekend across the global.

The FIVB unveiled on Wednesday the preliminary rosters for the 24 teams competing in the qualification event. While each team has about 20 players listed on its preliminary rosters, only 14 players will be on the active roster for the matches.

BYU led all teams with two players — outside attacker David Gardini of Italy and opposite Gabi Garcia Fernandez of Puerto Rico — earning preliminary roster spots. In addition, Barton’s Oscar Fiorentino, UCLA’s Daenan Gyimah, Hawai’i’s Radoslav Parapunov, Lewis’ Antonio Elias Rodriguez and Purdue Fort Wayne’s Pelegrin Vargas all made a preliminary roster.

Vargas, Fiorentino and Rodriguez will join Fernandez representing Puerto Rico as it attempts to earn an Olympic berth.

Both Fernandez and Vargas were among the offensive leaders in the NCAA last season and helped Puerto Rico finish in fifth place at the Pan American Games last week.

Fernandez was fourth in the NCAA with a 4.29 kills per game average and had at least 20 kills in seven regular season matches to help BYU reach the MPSF Tournament semifinals. He also was a finalist for the Bryan Ivie Award as the nation’s top opposite and named a Second-Team All-American.

Vargas ended last season with the Mastodons in the nation’s top 10 averaging 3.83 kills per game. The All-MIVA outside attacker also was in the conference’s top 10 with a 1.74 digs per game average as he helped Purdue Fort Wayne reach the MIVA Tournament semifinals.

Fiorentino was one of the youngest setters to make the Puerto Rican preliminary roster. The All-ConfCarolinas selection last season guided the Barton offense to the fourth-best attack percentage in the nation at .338 and helped the Bulldogs qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Rodriquez did not playing during his first college season as Lewis won the 2019 MIVA championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. The middle attacker, though, started for Puerto Rico at the recent FIVB U21 World Championship.

Along with Puerto Rico, the preliminary rosters for Bulgaria, Canada and Italy included NCAA players.

Parapunov rejoins Bulgaria after playing with the team earlier this summer in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. The 2019 Bryan Ivie Award winner helped Hawai’i reach the 2019 NCAA Tournament finals and finished the season in the nation’s top 10 with both a 4.07 kills per game average and a .420 attack percentage.

Gyimah made the Canadian preliminary roster following another All-American season at UCLA. The middle attacker was fifth in the NCAA last season with a .435 attack percentage and had double-digit kills in 15 regular season matches.

Gardini led all freshmen and was in the nation’s top 25 last season with both a 3.47 kills per game average and a .320 attack percentage. The outside attacker during this offseason already helped Italy win the silver medal at the U21 World Championship.

Besides these players, Princeton opposite and middle attacker hybrid George Huhmann was listed on the U.S. preliminary roster but did not make the team’s game-day roster that USA Volleyball announced on Wednesday.

There will be six Olympic qualification tournaments that will take place Friday through Sunday. Each tournament will be comprised of a four-team pool, and the top team following the three-match round robin event will earn a berth to the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo.