The 2013 campaign for the USC men’s volleyball team was disappointing, to say the least.
Hampered by injury and inexperience, the Trojans did not enjoy the same level of success they had become accustomed to in past years, especially after reaching the NCAA championship match last season. Instead, they had to settle for a 6-18 record and an early end to the season as they failed to reach the playoffs.
But though the season came to a disappointing end, one Trojan received special recognition for his play: Sophomore setter Micah Christenson was named on Wednesday as a finalist for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Server of the Year Award.
The Trojan co-captain is among elite company, as the other finalists boast impressive resumes. Gonzalo Quiroga, a junior from UCLA, and Joseph Smalzer, a junior from Loyola, join Christenson as nominees, and both have accumulated over 50 aces this season.
Christenson grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he was named to the 2011 Volleyball Magazine All-American team while at Kamehameha-Kapalama High School. He also served as captain of the 2012 U.S. junior national team that won a gold medal in the NORCECA Junior Continental Championship.
In his first year with the Trojans, Micah excelled as the team’s starting setter. He led the team in assists and was in the top three in a number of other categories, including digs, blocks and aces. For his efforts, he was named the 2012 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation freshman of the year.
This year, however, Christenson has taken his leadership to the next level. The sophomore led the team with 867 assists and 179 digs and was second on the team with 59 blocks.
But what Christenson excelled in — and is now being recognized for — is his unbelievable play from the service line. With 41 aces on the season, the young phenom was among the top servers in the nation and was recognized with the Off the Block nomination by a committee of more than 20 colleges.
More impressive than the statistics, however, is his ability to lead a young Trojan team. Amid a five-game losing streak, Christenson took control of the team against No. 3 Pepperdine. The All-American collected five aces on the night and helped USC capture its first victory in more than two weeks.
This season may not have gone as expected, but the award nomination is a sign of hope. By serving as a leader both on the court and off, Christenson is helping to steer this young team in the right direction. The winner of the award will be announced on Monday, April 22.