COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 12, 2012) – Outside hitter Matt Anderson (West Seneca, N.Y.) has been named the USA Volleyball Indoor Male Athlete of the Year for 2012, while setter Donald Suxho (Korce, Albania) has been selected as USA Volleyball’s Most Improved Player in the indoor male athlete category.
At 25, Anderson was the youngest player on the U.S. Men’s Olympic Volleyball Team. He finished the 2012 season as the team’s leading scorer with 393 points on a team-leading 326 kills, 42 blocks and 25 aces (second highest on team). Anderson started 96 out of the 97 sets for the U.S. Men. His kill percent was 50.7 and his hitting efficiency was .440.
“My success this season with the National Team came from the realization of the trust my teammates and coaches had in me,” Anderson said via e-mail from Russia where he is playing for Zenit Kazan in the Super League. “In training we created an atmosphere of the best volleyball and it was tough to differentiate between training and big-time matches.”
Anderson started all 21 sets of the Olympic Games in London and was the team’s leading scorer with 81 points on 69 kills (.390 hitting efficiency), six aces and six blocks. His tournament best was 18 points (16 attacks, one block and one ace) scored in 3-2, pool play loss to Russia. The U.S. Men finished fifth in London.
“The highlight of my 2012 season was being a part of the 2012 Olympic Games,” Anderson said. “There is no words to describe the honor I received being able to walk with the team in Opening Ceremonies, and then to compete on the world’s biggest stage for my country, the USA. The low point is leaving the Olympics knowing we could have accomplished more as a team.”
Anderson played in all 60 FIVB World League sets in which the U.S. Men competed and was the team’s leading scorer. He finished with 248 points on a team-leading 205 kills, 32 blocks and 11 aces. He was fifth among all World League scorers at the end of pool play. His tournament high was 21 points scored against Korea on June 16.
Anderson was named “Best Spiker” at the NORCECA Men’s Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament on May 7-12 in Long Beach, Calif., as the U.S. Men qualified for the Olympic Games. He played in 15 out of 16 sets and was the team’s leading scorer, finishing with 64 points on 52 kills, four blocks, and eight aces. His hitting efficiency was .585 and he scored a tournament-high 24 points against Cuba.
“My sights are already set on (the Olympic Games in) Rio 2016,” Anderson said. “If I’m lucky enough to make that squad, I don’t want to go home from those Games without a medal, hopefully gold.”
Suxho, 36, went into the 2012 season not knowing for sure if he would be the team’s starting setter, as he had to battle Brian Thornton (San Clemente, Calif.) and Kevin Hansen (Newport Beach, Calif.) for the slot. Suxho ended up playing in 92 of 115 sets in which the U.S. Men competed. He helped the team to a season kill percentage of 45.4 and a hitting efficiency of .375. He also finished the season with 46 points on 18 kills, 24 blocks and four aces. He was credited with 128 digs (1.39 per set) and 705 running sets (7.67 per set).
“I am extremely thankful to the USA Volleyball organization, the USA coaching staff and the medical staff for training and helping me,” Suxho said via e-mail from Argentina where he is playing for Drean Bolívar. “I also want to thank my teammates for trusting me.”
Suxho finished second among all setters at the 2012 Olympic Games in London where he was credited with 213 running sets (10.65 per set). He started 20 out of 21 sets and scored 10 points on three kills, six blocks and one ace.
“The highlight of my season was winning our group at the Olympics,” Suxho said. “The low point was losing to Italy in the quarterfinals. It was like a stab in the heart.”
Suxho played in 57 out of 60 FIVB World League sets for the U.S. Men, scoring 29 points on 14 kills and 15 blocks, including highs of five points against France in France (four kills, one block) and against France in Dallas (one kill, four blocks). He finished first among all setters in pool play with 331 running sets (5.81 per set) and finished second among all setters in the Final Round with 74 running sets (5.29 per set).
He started 15 out of 16 sets for the U.S. Men at the NORCECA Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament. He finished with seven points on one kills, three blocks and three aces and was credited with 87 running sets (5.44 per set).
“My goals are to continue to improve my game, stay healthy and win gold in Rio,” Suxho said.