Former Penn State outside Russell named EIVA Player of Decade

Photo courtesy of Penn State athletics

There was little debate among the nationwide voting committee that former Penn State outside attacker Aaron Russell was the EIVA Player of the Decade.

The current member of the U.S. Men’s National Team received all but one first-place vote to win the EIVA Player of the Decade that was unveiled Tuesday on Off the Block.

Russell, a two-time All-American and three-time recipient of the Uvaldo Acosta Memorial EIVA Player of the Year, guided the Nittany Lions to four consecutive EIVA championships. He also led Penn State to the NCAA Tournament semifinals in each of those seasons, including reaching the match in 2015 after having a match-high 20 kills in four-game victory against Hawai’i in the NCAA Tournament play-in match.

Russell became one of four players in Penn State program history to have more than 1,500 career kills and finished with a .357 career attack percentage. In addition, he is second all-time in program history 198 career aces and holds two of Penn State’s top-three single-season records for aces.

Russell in his senior season was second in the nation with a career-best 4.68 kills per game average on a .381 attack percentage. Among his top regular season performances en route to winning the Karch Kiraly Award that year included a match-high 30 kills while hitting .458 in a five-game rivalry victory against Ohio State.

The outside attacker also had back-to-back seasons in the nation’s top five for aces. Russell had a nation-best 0.65 aces per game average in 2014 and was fourth in the country averaging 0.55 aces per game in 2015.

The voting committee for the EIVA Player of the Decade was comprised of EIVA head coaches and national volleyball media members. The top-three vote-getters were selected finalists, while the individual with the most votes named the overall award winner.

Russell garnered 20 votes — 15 more votes than the runner-up Princeton opposite and middle attacker George Huhmann. The other finalist NJIT Jabarry Goodridge finished in third place with three votes.

Off the Block coordinated the EIVA All-Decade Awards. Along with the EIVA Player of the Decade, Off the Block presented the EIVA Coach of the Decade, the EIVA Team of the Decade and the EIVA All-Decade Awards.

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

EIVA Player of the Decade voting results

1. Aaron Russell, Penn State — 20 votes
2. George Huhmann, Princeton — 5 votes
3. Jabarry Goodridge, NJIT — 3 votes
4. Max Lipsitz, Penn State — 2 votes
T-5. Cody Kessel, Princeton — 1 vote
T-5. Joe Sunder, Penn State — 1 vote