Team Illinois wins inaugural Off the Block Games championship

Photo courtesy of Lewis athletics

The hotbed for volleyball in the Midwest is now the best in the land.

Team Illinois defeated Team East Coast in the championship match on Tuesday to win the 2020 Off the Block Games.

This inaugural Off the Block Games pitted 24 teams against each other with the fans deciding the winner of every match through online voting on the Off the Block website. Each of the 24 teams — 11 U.S. teams and 13 international teams — was comprised of players from a specific region who competed in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the 25-point rally scoring era.

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Team Illinois received 62.50 percent of the vote in the finals to conclude the tournament undefeated.

The roster for Team Illinois featured nine All-Americans and five All-Decade Team selections. Lewis led all schools with six players on the Team Illinois roster, while Loyola had two players and Pepperdine had a player on the team.

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.

Team Illinois roster

Setter: BJ Boldog, Lewis
Opposite: Joseph Smalzer, Loyola
Outside attacker: Thomas Jaeschke, Loyola
Outside attacker: David Wieczorek, Pepperdine
Middle attacker: Tyler Mitchem, Lewis
Middle attacker: Jeff Jendryk, Loyola
Libero: Michael Simmons, Lewis
Bench
Outside attacker: Greg Petty, Lewis
Outside attacker: Jay Petty, Lewis
Middle attacker: Bobby Walsh, Lewis

Roster accolades: BJ Boldog (Third-Team All-Decade, MIVA First-Team All-Decade, three-time All-American); Joe Smalzer (MIVA First-Team All-Decade, two-time All-American, two-time National Server of the Year, 2013 MIVA Player of the Year); Thomas Jaeschke (First-Team All-Decade, MIVA First-Team All-Decade, two-time All-American, two-time MIVA Player of the Year, 2015 National Player of the Year, 2015 National Server of the Year); David Wieczorek (Second-Team All-Decade, two-time All-American, two-time MPSF Player of the Year, two-time Karch Kiraly Award finalist); Tyler Mitchem (two-time All-American, two-time Ryan Millar Award finalist); Jeff Jendryk (First-Team All-Decade, MIVA First-Team All-Decade, four-time All-American, three-time Ryan Millar Award finalist, 2015 National Newcomer of the Year); Michael Simmons (three-time All-MIVA); Greg Petty (2015 All-American); Jay Petty (MIVA Second-Team All-Decade, 2012 All-American); Bobby Walsh (Third-Team All-Decade, MIVA Second-Team All-Decade, two-time All-American, 2015 National Blocker of the Year)