After four rounds and more than 10,000 online votes, the four-player field is set for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Fan Choice Player of the Year Championship Round.
The Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Fan Choice Player of the Year is an annual 64-player bracket-style tournament that 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 decide the winner through online voting.
BYU outside attacker Taylor Sander, BYU middle attacker Michael Hatch, Loyola setter Peter Hutz and Lees-McRae outside attacker Brady Markle each won their regional finals Sunday to advance to the Championship Round.
The online polls are now open for the championship round and voting ends at 11 p.m. (EST) Friday. The player receiving the most votes will be to the 2014 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Fan Choice Player of the Year.
This is the fourth-year of the Fan Choice Player of the Year. Several volleyball organizations present National Player of the Year awards, but this contest is the only National Player of the Year award solely decided by the fans.
Springbak, Inc. is the official sponsor of the Fan Choice Player of the Year. Springbak, Inc. produces high performance footwear used by professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, MLB and U.S. Olympic teams and the top college teams in the nation.
FAN CHOICE PLAYER OF YEAR: CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND PLAYER BIOS
No. 1 seed Taylor Sander, BYU outside attacker
Sander was named the 2014 AVCA National Player of the Year and 2014 MPSF Player of the Year after finishing second in the nation with a 4.60 kills per game average. The senior was also in the nation’s top five with 55 aces and was a finalist for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Server of the Year as he helped lead BYU to back-to-back MPSF championships. In addition, Sander became the 11th player in college men’s volleyball history to be a four-time AVCA All-American. As the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, Sander won the Sinjin Smith Region to reach the championship round.
No. 13 seed Michael Hatch, BYU middle attacker
Hatch led the MPSF with 132 block assists and was third in the nation with a 1.44 blocks per game average. The sophomore also was named a finalist for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Blocker of the Year as he helped BYU win the MPSF championship and reach the NCAA Tournament semifinals. Hatch pulled off four upsets in this Player of the Year tournament and received more than 70 percent of the vote in his regional finals match to win the Aldis Berzins Region.
No. 15 seed Peter Hutz, Loyola setter
Hutz was third in the nation with a 11.42 assists per game average and guided Loyola’s offense to a nation-best .366 attack percentage. The sophomore finished fourth in the voting for the Lloy Ball Award, which is presented to the nation’s top setter, and helped the Ramblers win their first NCAA championship in program history. Hutz advanced to the championship round after receiving more than 1,250 votes to beat Pacific middle attacker Tommy Carmody by 14 votes in the Mick Haley Region Finals.
No. 16 seed Brady Markle, Lees-McRae outside attacker
Markle was third in the Conference Carolinas and among the national leaders with a 4.14 kills per game average. The sophomore also earned First-Team All-Conference Carolinas honors as Lees-McRae reached the postseason for the third consecutive year. In addition, Markle won the Dusty Dvorak Region and is the first No. 16 seed in the Fan Choice Player of the Year tournament’s history to reach the championship round.