A nationwide voting committee has selected BYU outside attacker Davide Gardini, BYU opposite Angelos Mandilaris and Hawai’i opposite Rado Parapunov as finalists for the Nicolas Szerszen Award.
The Nicolas Szerszen Award, which is named after the former Ohio State All-American, is presented to the best non-U.S. born player in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season.
Off the Block announced the finalists on Thursday and will unveil the award winner next week as part of its College Men’s Volleyball National Awards Presentation.
Gardini was in the nation’s top 25 with both a .370 attack percentage and a 3.61 kills per game, including having at least 15 kills in seven matches. The Italian native defensively was in the nation’s top 25 averaging 1.97 digs per game as he helped BYU earn the No. 1 national ranking at the time the season ended because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mandilaris, the ConfCarolinas Player of the Year, was third in the nation with a 4.43 kills per game average and in the country’s top 15 with a career-best .412 attack percentage. The Greece native had double-digit kills in all but two matches for the defending ConfCarolinas champions, including a match-high 25 kills in an upset sweep against Loyola.
Parapunov, the 2019 Nicolas Szerszen Award winner and 2020 Big West Player of the Year, was second in the nation with a career-best 4.47 kills per game average and among the national leaders hitting .377. Among the top performances from the Bulgaria native featured season-high 30 kills on a .440 attack percentage as No. 1/2 Hawai’i rallied from a two-game deficit to beat No. 2/1 BYU in five games in both teams’ season finale.
The Nicolas Szerszen Award was formerly called the International Player of the Year until earlier this year when it was renamed in an effort to celebrate the history of international players in college men’s volleyball. This is the only national award in college men’s volleyball recognizing the outstanding individual performances of international players who are pursuing their volleyball career and higher education in the United States.
The voting committee for the International Player of the Year was comprised of about 25 college men’s volleyball head coaches and volleyball reporters from around the nation.
The top three vote-getters were named finalists for this national honor.
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.