Karch Kiraly Award Watch List for 2020

Photo courtesy of BYU athletics

Jonathan Bates and Brandon Johnson

The Karch Kiraly Award is annually given to the nation’s best outside attacker in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season.

The award is named after the former UCLA All-American and Olympic gold medalist Karch Kiraly, and is selected by a nationwide voting committee of college men’s volleyball coaches and media members.

Check out who made Off the Block’s preseason watch list for the Karch Kiraly Award for 2020.

Nic Cavellaro, Queens
As a sophomore, Cavellaro led the Royals with 2.90 kills per game and 8.31 attacks per game. His 28 kills in a 5-game match versus King on March 1 tied for fifth-most by a player in a single match last year. For his career, he has 386 kills. The Royals ended the 2019 season on an up-note as they won six of their final nine matches.

Ryan Coenen, Lewis
Coenen helped the 2019 Lewis team to a MIVA conference title and a national semifinalist finish. The senior led the Flyers with 3.25 kills per game and 3.98 points per game, both No. 6 in the conference. The three-time All-American has 1,039 kills for his career, good for a 3.40 kills per game average. Coenen has started in 84 of 92 matches in his three seasons, where he has double-digit kills in 60 of those matches.

Colton Cowell, Hawai’i
Easily overshadowed last year by highly-acclaimed teammates, Cowell nonetheless was a key contributor to a team that was the national runner. Nicknamed the Makawao Masher by Tiff Wells, the Maui native was third on the team with a .387 attack percentage, 2.36 kills per game, and 3.00 points per game. With the graduation of All-American Stijn van Tilburg, expect to see these numbers go up in 2020.

Parker Dixon, Princeton
The two-time All-EIVA honoree ranked No. 5 last year in the conference with 3.20 kills per game and 3.64 points per game. The Dallas native had double-digit kills in 20 of the Tigers’ 31 matches, including 20+ in four of those. Returning most of their firepower from last year, including EIVA Player of the Year, George Huhmann, the Tigers are heavy favorites to repeat as EIVA champions in 2020.


Noah Dyer, Pepperdine
Recruited as setter, Dyer has played both libero and outside attacker for the Waves in first three years. He was the starting libero for the 2019 Pepperdine team that made it to the national semifinals. In 2019, he had five matches with 10+ digs, including a conference-best 18 in a match at Lewis. Dyer was to the All-Freshman team in 2017. Dyer has 170 kills and 336 digs in 68 matches for his career.

Henrik Falck Lauten, Penn State
A transfer from Warner (NAIA), Falck Lauten was named the EIVA Newcomer of the Year in 2019. The Norwegian was second on the team with 2.64 kills per game and 3.15 points per game, while leading the team with 6.14 attacks per game. The Lions lost to EIVA champion, Princeton, in five games in the EIVA tournament final.

Michael Fisher, Saint Francis
Fisher ranks No. 2 among returning outside attackers with 4.24 kills per game last year. In a February 1 match at Ohio State, Fisher set 2019 EIVA conference marks for most attacks (56) and most points (32.5) in a single match. He also set the 2019 conference mark for most aces in a match with six in a match at NJIT on April 13. In two seasons of play, the two-time All-EIVA honoree has tallied 711 career kills good for a 3.89 kills per game average.

Davide Gardini, BYU
The 2019 MPSF Freshman of the Year led the Cougars with a .320 attack percentage. He was also second (and top-ten in the conference) with .304 aces per game, 7.14 attacks per game, 3.47 kills per game, and 4.13 points per game. Expectations are high in 2020 for BYU after a down 2019 season with everyone returning except a part-time libero.

Wyatt Harrison, UC San Diego
A year after being named to the inaugural All-Big West Freshman Team, the Hawai’i native led the Tritons in 2019 with .217 aces per game, 7.94 attacks per game, 3.24 kills per game, and 3.60 points per game. The Tritons return everyone from last year’s team except outside attacker Xander Jimenez.

Jordan Hoppe, Concordia-Irvine
The redshirt senior earned All-MPSF Honorable Mention honors last year after leading the team with 333 kills (No. 11 in the MPSF) and 36 aces (No. 4 in the MPSF) while collecting 125 digs and 42 blocks. His 36 aces rank most in program history for a single season. He played in 106 sets and 31 matches with 29 starts.

Christian Janke, Grand Canyon
A 2019 All-MPSF Freshman Team selection, the Carlsbad native started the season hot with 10+ kills in his first dozen collegiate matches. He led the Lopes in games played, aces per game and attack percentage, while ranking second on the team in digs per game, kills per game, attacks per game, and points per game.

Sean Kohlhase, King
Kohlhase led King to a 2019 ConfCarolinas tournament runner-up finish a year after they took the title. Kohlhase led the Tornadoes with .373 aces per game, 8.21 attacks per game, 3.37 kills per game, and 3.95 points per game, all ranking the top-six in ConfCarolinas. The First-Team All-ConfCarolinas selection had double-digit kills in 20 of his 30 matches last year, including 11 of his final 12. His season-best was 24 at Emmanuel.  

Austin Matautia, UCLA
The Hawai’i-transfer had a strong year before a season-ending injury sidelined him for the final eight matches of the year. To show his value to the 2019 UCLA team, just look at UCLA’s record with (16-4) and without him (3-5). Matautia had a career-best 22 kills in February 27 match versus Pepperdine, and helped spearhead a February 7 reverse sweep of Stanford with 10 of 12 kills in the final three games.

Liam Maxwell, Belmont Abbey
The two-time All-ConfCarolinas First-Team selection led the nation with 4.51 kills per game and 9.98 attacks per game. Even with almost 1,000 attacks in 2019, Maxwell had a respectable .331 attack percentage. For his career, he has 14 matches with 20+ kills, and has 10+ kills in all but four of his 52 matches over the past two seasons. He 1,160 kills and 2,745 attacks for career, good for a 3.87 kills per game and 9.15 assists per game average.

Patrick Ross, McKendree
Expectations are high for the Bearcats, a season after many historic feats. Last year, McKendree defeated Ohio State and hosted a MIVA tournament match for the first time in program history. Also, McKendree defeated No. 8 BYU, a win over their highest-ranked opponent in program history. Mostly everyone returns except for a part-time libero. Ross has reached double-digit kills in a dozen matches for his career, and has 330 in total.

Joel Schneidmiller, UC Irvine
The inaugural Big West Freshman of Year is also a two-time All-American. Even though he missed six matches due to injury, Schneidmiller had four double-doubles last year (double-digit kills and digs). He had at least nine kills in all but one of the matches he played in (he started every match he played in). His career best 28 kills was set in a five-game match at Loyola to start the 2019 season. For his career, Schneidmiller has 579 kills (3.03 kills per game), 221 digs, and 64 aces. Schneidmiller’s .535 aces per game ranked No. 5 nationally last year, while his 4.49 points per game also ranked in the top-ten nationally.

Ethan Siegfried, Long Beach State
The Beach loses over 80% of their kills, digs, and aces from last year’s national championship team, so they will look to Siegfried to carry much of the offensive production in 2020. Siegfried was inserted into the starting lineup for the final five matches of 2019, and had a double-double (16 kills, 10 digs) in his first match as a starter, a five-game victory at Hawai’i.

Pelegrin Vargas, Purdue Fort Wayne
The two-time All-American spent time with the Puerto Rican National Team this summer and was named the MIVA Preseason Player of the Year for 2020. The Mastadons were picked second in the MIVA preseason poll, and Vargas a big reason why. Vargas led the 2019 team with a .280 attack percentage, 8.54 attacks per game, 3.83 kills per game, and 4.47 points per game; he ranked in the top 11 nationally in the latter three categories. He has reached double-digit kills in 46 of 58 career matches, and hit the 25 kill plateau twice.

Ryan Wilcox, UC Santa Barbara
The reigning Big West Freshman of the Year was second on the team to Corey Chavers in terms of attacks per game, attack percentage, kills per game, and points per game. Even with the loss of Chavers and Hayden Boehle, both Second-Team All-Americans last year, the Gauchos were picked No. 5 in the preseason coaches poll.

Brett Wildman, Penn State
Wildman played both outside and right side last year, but he’s listed as an outside for the 2020 year. As a freshman, Wildman played in 27 of Penn State’s 30 matches, starting in the final 13 matches. In the match before he went on his starting streak, Wildman led the Nittany Lions with 16 kills off the bench in a loss at USC. He also went for 22 and 24 kills in his two EIVA tournament matches last year. He received All-EIVA Honorable Mention honors last year.