DeFalco Named Big West’s Top Player, Schneidmiller Best Freshman

  0 Wendy Mayer | April 16th, 2018 | Big West, College - Men's Indoor, News

Long Beach State secured the inaugural Big West conference title and earned the league’s Player of the Year and Coach of the Year accolades for its efforts. Meanwhile, third place UC Irvine boasted the league’s first Freshman of the Year honor.

Junior outside hitter TJ DeFalco, who led the league in aces (0.50 per set) and ranked second in hitting percentage (.383), earned the league’s top honor. The two-time Player and two-time Defensive Player of the Week honoree also ranked fourth in the league in kills (315) and kills per set (3.66), while leading the 49ers in kills and aces (43). DeFalco notched his 1,000th career kill while also notching four double-doubles and hitting .400 or better 12 times.

The Huntington Beach, California, native is LBSU’s first conference player of the year honoree since Paul Lotman in 2008.

Fifteenth year head coach Alan Knipe, who was tabbed as MPSF Coach of the Year in 2008 and AVCA National Coach of the Year in 2004, earns his latest honor, guiding the team to a Big West title, and a 24-1 regular season mark, including a program-record 24 straight wins to start the year. The team also posted 12 wins against AVCA Top 15 teams and dropped just 12 sets all season (74-12). Knipe also reached an individual milestone in 2018, securing his 300th career win.

Bringing home rookie of the year honors was UC Irvine’s Joel Schneidmiller. The outside hitter started 24 contests and posted 2.63 kills per set and a .328 hitting percentage, ranking seventh and 12th respectively in the league. The four-time Big West Freshman of the Week and one-time league and AVCA Player of the Week racked up double-digit kills in 12 matches. The Saratoga, California, native ranks second among the Anteaters in aces (15), third in kills (245), fourth in blocks (63) and fifth in digs (83).


Sixteen players were named to the All-Big West first team, including 12 underclassmen. LBSU and Hawaii each put four players on the first team, while UCI and Cal State Northridge each boasted three.

In addition to DeFalco, middle blocker Nick Amado, opposite Kyle Ensing and setter Josh Tuaniga were the honorees for the 49ers. Middle blocker Patrick Gasman, outside Stijn van Tilburg, setter Joe Worsley and libero Larry Tuileta represented Hawaii.

Eight players were tabbed as honorable mention selections, while seven earned all-freshman team nods. All six teams put an honoree on the all-freshman team.



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About Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer

Wendy Mayer has worked in athletics media relations for the last 20 years. The Northwest Missouri State alumna is currently senior writer for after spending the last 15 years with Purdue athletics.

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