Grand Canyon setter Kaniho wins National Player of the Month

Setter Puna Kaniho sets a ball during the Grow the Game Challenge on Jan. 14 in Nashville. Kaniho was named the National Player of the Month for January.
Photo by Jay Sowers.

Senior setter Puna Kaniho capped off his first month in the Grand Canyon starting lineup with a national award.

Kaniho received almost 1,000 votes in the championship round to win the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Player of the Month for January. Continue reading “Grand Canyon setter Kaniho wins National Player of the Month”

Bracketology numbers and notes to know for this weekend

Now down to less than three months before the NCAA men’s volleyball committee meets to finalize the NCAA Tournament field, and the matches this weekend could have big implications on the bracketology.

Check out everything you need to know about the college men’s volleyball bracketology so far this season and for the upcoming matches this weekend. Continue reading “Bracketology numbers and notes to know for this weekend”

Leaderboard: National stat leaders in college men’s volleyball

One month through the regular season and several players and teams have already established themselves among the nation’s best in the top offensive and defensive statistical categories. Check out the individual and team national statistical leaders in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball for this week. Continue reading “Leaderboard: National stat leaders in college men’s volleyball”

Sideline Observations: UC Irvine setter Chakravorti making most of chance to start

Photo courtesy of UC Irvine athletics.

Brandon Johnson | Off the Block special contributor

In 2017, the UC Irvine men’s volleyball team opened the year with a new look, sporting short shorts and collared jerseys. It was a bold, new look for a program that has been one of the most successful in men’s volleyball since 2006.

Fast forward to 2018 and the Anteaters once again have a new look. Although the short shorts and collared jerseys have remained the same (with a Big West Conference patch now added), new faces are dominating the court and the stat sheet each and every night.

The 2017 squad relied heavily on the play of seniors Tamir Hershko, Thomas Hodges, and Dillon Hoffman. However, no player was harder to replace than All-American setter Michael Saeta.

Not only was Saeta the heart and soul of the team, he also was a finalist for the National Server of the Year and his aggressive play at the net was hard for opponents to defend.

Enter Dante Chakravorti. There’s no mistaking the new setter for the Anteaters — his scraggly mop of hair and constant nervous energy makes him a player that is hard for fans to take their eyes off of.

“We are obviously different team, and we really try to play our own game this year,” Chakravorti said. “We took as much as we could and learned from that team. We have some new guys out there, so we are just really trying to develop a system and cultivate ways that we can win.”

Through the season’s first month, Chakravorti has not only done an admirable job of replacing Saeta, he has helped the No. 4/4 Anteaters off to an unexpected 9-1 start.

Among those wins included a two-match weekend series sweep of the No. 6/6 BYU when Chakravorti led the Irvine offense to a .356 and .350 hitting efficiency in back-to-back night. In addition, Chakravorti on Monday was named the Off the Block National Setter of the Week because of his performance agains the Cougars

The lone blemish on the UC Irvine schedule is a five-game loss at No. 2/2 UCLA. UC Irvine has the fourth-best attack percentage in the nation at a .338 clip, and Chakravorti has accounted for the third-most assists per game in the newly formed Big West men’s volleyball conference with a 10.24 average.

One of the beneficiaries of Chakravorti’s setting is Preseason All-American middle blocker Scott Stadick, who is regularly fed the ball from all angles on the court by the junior setter.

“Dante has been fantastic and has been groovin’ our offense all year,” Stadick said. “He’s a fantastic location setter.”

As the 2017 season came to a close, Chakravorti knew the departure of Saeta meant he would have controls of the program. After seeing inconsistent, minimal playing time in his first two years, the new starting setter did not take this responsibility lightly.

“Dante has been our floor general, [and] he made a commitment this past summer to get after it the weight room”, assistant coach Mark Presho said. “He’s running the show and doing some things that are dynamic.”

As the Anteaters continue to accumulate wins and climb the standings, Chakravorti knows his success is tied hand in hand with the success of his teammates.

“As a setter, you really want to try to help out your hitters as much as possible” he added.

He has done just that as five Anteaters are in the top-13 of the Big West in hitting efficiency.

UC Irvine returns to action on Friday to plays host Stanford, followed the next night by a rematch against UCLA.

Brandon Johnson is an Off the Block special contributor and writes the column Sideline Observations. His views do not necessarily represent those of Off the Block.

Recap: College men’s volleyball weekly polls, award recipients

Check out all the national rankings and individuals who earned national and conference player of the week honors in college men’s volleyball this week.

National Awards

Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week Joel Schneidmiller, UC Irvine
Off the Block National Setter of the Week: Dante Chakravorti, UC Irvine
Off the Block National Opposite of the Week: Karl Apfelbach, UC Irvine
Off the Block National Outside Attacker of the Week: David Wieczorek, Pepperdine
Off the Block National Middle Attacker of the Week: TJ Murray, Lewis
Off the Block National Libero of the Week: Florian Ruhm, Limestone
Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Freshman of the Week: Jake Hanes, Ohio State; Joel Schneidmiller, UC Irvine

Big West

Big West Player of the Week: Joel Schneidmiller, UC Irvine
Big West Defensive Player of the Week: Scott Stadick, UC Irvine; Joe Worsely, Hawai’i
Big West Freshman of the Week: Joel Schneidmiller, UC Irvine

ConfCarolians

ConfCarolinas Player of the Week: Angelos Mandilaris, Barton

EIVA

EIVA Offensive Player of the Week: Jack Heavey, Harvard
EIVA Defensive Player of the Week: Jack Reese, George Mason

Independent Teams

Off the Block Independent Teams Player of the Week: Aleksander Perisic, Queens

MIVA

MIVA Offensive Player of the Week: Jake Hanes, Ohio State
EIVA Defensive Player of the Week: TJ Murray, Lewis

MPSF

MPSF Offensive Player of the Week: Micah Ma’a, UCLA
MPSF Defensive Player of the Week: Daenan Gyimah, UCLA

AVCA National Coaches Poll

1. Long Beach State — 375 (25) points
2. UCLA — 341 points
3. Hawai’i — 324 points
4. UC Irvine — 294 points
5. Ohio State — 287 points
6. BYU — 248 points
7. Loyola — 225 points
8. Lewis — 192 points
9. Penn State — 165 points
10. Grand Canyon — 130 points
11. CSUN — 126 points
12. Pepperdine — 122 points
13. USC — 69 points
14. UC Santa Barbara — 40 points
15. Fort Wayne — 24 points
Others receiving votes: Ball State 14; George Mason 10; St. Francis 6; UC San Diego 6

Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Media Poll

1. Long Beach State — 100 (10) points
2. UCLA — 87 points
3. Hawai’i — 74 points
4. UC Irvine — 73 points
5. Ohio State — 58 points
6. BYU — 51 points
7. Loyola — 46 points
8. Lewis — 20 points
9. Penn State — 13 points
10. Grand Canyon — 11 points
Others receiving votes: Pepperdine 8; CSUN 6; Fort Wayne 3

Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Division II National Coaches Poll

1. Lewis — 45 (9) points
2. UC San Diego — 35 points
3. Concordia-Irvine — 23 points
4. McKendree — 13 points
5. Lindenwood — 9 points
Others receiving votes: Barton 3; King 3; Charleston 1