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Top Opposites – 2021

The Opposite Hitter (Right Side Hitter) is a crucial position in the higher level men’s game. The 5-1 system has become the predominant offense among men’s volleyball, and with it it’s profound weakness, for 3 rotations the Setter is in the front row. This only allows for two hitting options with the setter; unless you have a good Opposite. They provide the essential 3rd option out of the back row, and in many instances become the go to option in the front row. Division 3 was loaded with talent at the position in 2020, and 2021 will be no different.

Aaron Carrk

Kills/SetSwings/SetHitting %Digs/SetBlocks (S)Blocks(A)Blocks/Set
4.137.6.3521.591118.45
2020 Season

Aaron Carrk had one of the most sudden transformations of any player I’ve seen in the last few years. In 2019, he was largely a volume scorer within the New Paltz offense. From the beginning of the season all the way to the NCAA quarterfinals, he averaged 3.34 kills/set on 6.76 swings/set while hitting .199 (if you don’t believe me go check). These are not All-American numbers.

Then bam, lightning struck. Aaron Carrk feasted in the NCAA semi-finals against Springfield; and was the main catalyst for New Paltz’s triumphant run towards a second NCAA Championship. Against Springfield and UC Santa Cruz he averaged 4.6 kills/set on 7.8 swings/set while hitting an incredible .444.

Since that weekend, Aaron Carrk has become the offensive juggernaut we now associate with the New Paltz Hawks; averaging 4.13 kills/set on 7.6 swings while hitting .352. Radu loves powerful Right Sides, and Aaron’s learned to play powerfully. He starts 2021 on top, but has some stiff competition close behind him.

Career Accolades
2020: NVA/AVCA 1st-Team All-American / NVA/AVCA North Region Team / 1st-Team UVC
2019: NCAA Tournament MVP / 2nd-Team UVC

Jarret Anderson

Kills/SetSwings/SetHitting %Digs/SetBlocks (S)Blocks(A)Blocks/Set
3.977.7.3521.7737.62
2020 Season
Photo courtesy of Springfield Athletics

The future of Opposites in D3 belongs to Jarrett Anderson. The young Pride freshman wasted little time during the 2020 season, quickly establishing himself as one of the premier players at the position. He reads well, has a heavy hand, and one of the best serves in D3. He finished the year with a host of accolades culminating in a 1st-Team All-American honor. With a year of experience under his belt, the distance between he and Carrk may be infinitesimal; it’s not a matter of if Anderson takes the top spot at the position, but when.

Career Accolades
2020: NVA/AVCA 1st-Team All-American / NVA/AVCA Northeast Region Team

George Kougan

Kills/SetSwings/SetHitting %Digs/SetBlocks (S)Blocks(A)Blocks/Set
3.17.1.3001.353461.02
2020 Season

George Kougan took a huge step forward in his sophomore campaign. On top of being part of the best blocking team in the country, Kougan became a more central part of the Stars offense this season. He increased his freshmen year hitting efficiency (.178) to .300 by the conclusion of the covid shortened 2020 season.

The Dominican Stars theoretically lose both starting outsides in 2021; the missed production has to be replaced somewhere and I suspect Kougan will be looked at to take the lead in the Stars system next year.

Career Accolades
2020: NVA/AVCA West Region Team / 1st-Team NACC

Andrew Zaleck

Photo courtesy of Rutgers-Newark Athletics
Kills/SetSwings/SetHitting %Digs/SetBlocks (S)Blocks (A)Blocks/Set
4.479.2851.14418.3
2020 Season

The second freshmen to help power Rutgers-Newark’s resurgence this season. Zaleck was clearly the favorite option for Tuohy all season, as he led the Scarlet Raiders in attempts, points, kills, and kills/set. Zaleck’s first year reminds me a lot of Joshua Bigfords freshmen season; both were high-use options on their teams flashing the signs of a top tier players. After a year of adjusting to the College game, Zaleck is going to take a huge step in 2021; the CVC should be on notice.

Career Accolades
2020: NVA/AVCA 1st-Team All-American / NVA/AVCA East Region Team / 1st-Team CVC

Emmanuel Chaidez

Photo Courtesy of Brandon Langys
Kills/SetSwings/SetHitting %Digs/SetBlocks (S)Blocks (A)Blocks/Set
2.45.1.349.5212.78
2020 Season at Opposite

A rising senior on a promising 2021 Aurora squad. Emmanuel spent the first part of 2020 playing Middle Blocker, where he averaged 2.98 swings/set, 1.43 kills/set on a .385 hitting percentage. An illness at an away tournament led to a shift to Opposite, where Chaidez displayed a natural affinity and remained for the rest of the year. The stats above represent his per set breakdown at Opposite; and this was only done while playing front row as he learned the position. He’s expected to transition to the position full-time, and with it become a 6 rotation player. He ended the season as an All-American Honorable mention.

Career Accolades
2020: NVA/AVCA All-American Honorable Mention / NVA/AVCA West Region Team / 1st-Team NACC

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