Ball State middle attacker Matt Leske defeated Stanford All-American libero Erik Shoji in the championship match Thursday to win the 2012 Off the Block Fan Choice Player of the Year.
The Fan Choice Player of the Year recognizes the best individual performances from NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball players during the season and gives volleyball fans from around the world the chance to decide the winner through online voting on the Off the Block website.
The 65 players selected for this tournament were pitted against each other in head-to-head match-ups with the player receiving the most votes advancing to the next round.
More than 16,000 votes were cast during the seven rounds of this bracket-style tournament. In addition, Leske received 55.14 percent of the vote in the championship match to defeat Shoji by almost 11 percentage points.
Leske ended the 2012 season leading the MIVA and eighth in the nation with a 1.32 blocks per game average. The sophomore also was a Second-Team All-MIVA selection as Ball State finished tied for fourth place in the MIVA and advanced to the conference tournament semifinals.
As the No. 11 seed in the Ryan Millar Region to open the Fan Choice Player of the Year tournament, Leske beat Princeton’s Cody Kessel, UCLA All-American Thomas Amberg, BYU All-American Futi Tavana, BYU All-American Taylor Stander and Quincy’s Steven Battaglia to reach the championship match.
Leske throughout the competition received a tournament-record 2,816 combined votes, including a tournament-high 950 votes in his national semifinal victory against Battaglia.
This is the second year of the Off the Block Fan Choice Player of the Year award. Loyola outside attacker Mike Bunting won the inaugural Fan Choice Player of the Year award in 2011.