The Outside Hitter(s) are the glue keeping all volleyball teams together. They are ideally six-rotation players with multiple skill sets. They have to serve-receive well, play defense, and must be able put the ball away. Each team will generally have two Outside Hitters, designated as the OH1 (terminal attacker) and the OH2 (jack-of-all-trades).
Going into 2021, these are the top 5 Outsides you need to prepare for. If you don’t know their names, it’s called GOOGLE. Otherwise, be prepared to get bounced.
Disclaimer, possible incoming recruits were not used in this list as we will be doing an incoming recruit piece at a later date.
Brennen Brandow (JR) – Springfield
After two short years, we find ourselves living in the age of Brennen Brandow. He flashed all the signs of a top tier pin during the 2019 season, but the marked improvement in his sophomore campaign was astronomic. In 2019, he took 7.47 swings/set, averaging 3.24 kills/set with a .272 hitting percentage. In 2020, he took 7.7 swings/set, averaging 4.07 kills/set on a .348 hitting percentage.
This is even more astounding given the players who joined Springfield’s line-up in 2020 (Liam York and Jarrett Anderson). Even with two additional All-Americans pins joining the roster, Brandow maintained the same usage rate while increasing his production and efficiency. He was named NVA/AVCA Player of the Year and honored with his first NVA/AVCA All-American 1st-Team selection despite only being a sophomore. He’s 6’4, has a whip for a swing, and stands atop the mountain as the best outside going into 2021.
2020: AVCA Player of the Year / NVA/AVCA 1st-Team All-American / NVA/AVCA Northeast Region Player of the Year / NVA/AVCA Northeast All-Region
2019: AVCA Newcomer of the Year / NVA/AVCA 2nd-Team All-American
Matt Slivinski (SR) – Carthage
I may have Brandow as the number one Outside going into 2021; but if I’m drafting a D3 team I’m first picking Matt Slivinski. The guys plays a type of volleyball that I can only describe as “powerful”. He combines this with a veteran IQ to make for one of the most complete players in D3 men’s volleyball. He has great adaptability and knows to pound the ball when the moment comes for it (one of the heaviest BICS in D3).
He led Carthage to a 12-3 record, earned a 1st-Team All-American Honor, and was selected to join the USA Volleyball Collegiate National Team (the only D3 player to be selected). In 2020, he took 8.2 swings/set over 14 matches; he registered 4.15 kills/set with a .323 hitting percentage.
2020: NVA/AVCA All-America First Team / CCIW Offensive Player of the Year/ CCIW 1st-Team / AVCA West Player of the Year / NVA/AVCA West All-Region
2019: NVA/AVCA All-America First Team / 2019 MCVL All-Conference First Team.
Josh Bigford (JR) – St. John Fischer
Josh Bigford’s 2020 season has firmly established him as one of the top outsides going into 2021, and he still has a 2 (maybe 3) years of eligibility left. In 2019, he took 9.19 swings/set and earned 3.54 kills/set while hitting .273. These numbers increased dramatically in 2020, as Bigford took 9.8 swings/set while averaging 4 kills per set on .325 hitting percentage.
He’s fresh off a 1st-Team All-American honor and returning with a St. John Fischer’s squad capable of breaking into the Top 5 in the coaches poll; I suspect many more accolades in his future. How his arm hasn’t fallen off I have no idea; how much ice is needed to recover from 74 swings against NYU (5-set victory for SJFC)?
2020: NVA/AVCA 1st-Team All-American / NVA/AVCA North Region Player of the Year / NVA/AVCA North All-Region / UVC Co-Player of the Year / 1st-Team UVC
2019: UVC Rookie of the Year / 1st-Team All-UVC
Nahuel Recabarren (SR) – Southern Virginia University
Nahuel is the typical player who looks like he can fly. An effortless jump coupled with a heavy hand, his 2020 season saw him earn a consecutive 1st-Team All-American honor. He’s a proven commodity and a well known name inside the CVC, he and Paul Clark forming one of the most entertaining Outside hitter tandems in all of Division 3 (not a joke, they are incredibly fun to watch play together).
Nahuel finished his junior year averaging 7.02 swings/set, 3.35 kills/set, with a .306 hitting percentage. I expect him to keep hitting over blocks in 2021, even with a more competitive CVC.
2020: NVA/AVCA 1st-Team All-American / NVA/AVCA East Region Player of the Year / NVA/AVCA East All-Region / CVC 1st-Team
2019: NVA/AVCA 1st-Team All-American / CVC 1st-Team
Jared Moser (SOPH) – North Central College
Last but not least we have Jared Moser of North Central College. You need look no further than the NCC win over NYU to see the potential of this rising Sophomore. He had 17 kills with 8 errors on 30 attempts (.300 %) in this match. In the deciding 5th set, Moser had 4 kills on 5 attempts and a 2.75 passing efficacy to clinch the victory over arguably one of the best teams in the country. He took charge the way a senior would, changing the momentum of the match with big plays when they were down 11-13, 14-15, and to take the lead at 16-16. His dig off Neil Ferraro (probably one of the top 3 middles in 2020) at 18-17 led to the deciding kill for NCC.
Big players show up in big moments, and I believe we are just seeing the beginning of those for Jared Moser. He closes out the top 5, ending his freshmen season as a 2nd-team All-American with 7 swings/set, 3.26 kills/set, and a .295 hitting percentage.
2020: NVA/AVCA 2nd-Team All-American / NVA/AVCA West All-Region Team / CCIW Newcomer of the Year / CCIW 1st-Team
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