Men's Update: Awards Season

By BJ Evans | April 28, 2015, 2:23 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 28, 2015) – The playoffs are heating up for some of the nation’s top college men’s volleyball players. Four players who have received honors are expected in the U.S. Men’s National Team gym this summer.

Micah Christenson
   Micah Christenson, center, has been honored for his play this season.

University of Southern California (USC) senior setter Micah Christenson (Honolulu, Hawaii) was named First Team All-MPSF for the second straight season. He also shared the Off The Block Lloy Ball Setter of the Year Award with Pepperdine’s Matt West (Seattle, Wash.), who was also named First Team All-MPSF. Christenson has been the starting setter for the U.S. Men since 2013 and helped the team win the 2014 FIVB World League title. West has played for the U.S. youth and junior teams and is expected to train with the U.S. Men this summer for a chance to compete at the Pan American Games and/or Pan American Cup.

USC will play UC Irvine in the semifinals of the MPSF playoffs on April 30. Pepperdine will play the Hawaii in the other semifinal on April 30. The winners will play in the final on May 1. The playoffs will be in Irvine, Calif.

Penn State senior outside hitter Aaron Russell (Ellicott City, Md.) won his third consecutive Uvaldo Acosta Memorial EIVA Player of the Year honor and was named First Team All-EIVA for the fourth time. Russell also won the inaugural Off The Block Karch Kiraly Award as the nation’s top outside hitter. Russell played for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2014 World Championship Qualifier and was named Best Spiker. He is on the U.S. preliminary roster for the 2015 World League.

Penn State, which finished first in the EIVA regular season, will face Princeton in the first round of the EIVA playoffs on April 29 at Penn State. The winner will play the winner of the semifinal between Harvard and George Mason. The final will be played at Penn State on May 1.

Loyola junior outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke (Wheaton, Ill.) was named the 2015 MIVA Player of the Year for the second straight season and earned First Team All-MIVA honors for the third year. Jaeschke is also on the U.S. preliminary roster for the 2015 FIVB World League.

Loyola will play Ohio State in the semifinals of the MIVA playoff tournament on April 29 at Loyola. Lewis will host Lindenwood on April 28 in the other MIVA semifinal. The final will be played May 1 at Lewis.


There will be several chances to see the U.S. Men’s National Team play in the United States this summer, starting on May 15 when the team will play a Red-Blue scrimmage doubleheader with the U.S. Women’s Team at Segerstrom High School in Santa Ana, Calif.

The U.S. Women will play the opening Red-Blue match at 5:30 p.m. PT, followed by the U.S. Men at 7:30. An autograph session will follow the conclusion of the men’s match. Admission is $5 to watch both matches. Youth 18 and under are admitted free, as are Starlings Club teams and parents. The doubleheader will be the first public Red-Blue matches for both programs in 2015.

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On May 21-23, the U.S. Men along with teams from Canada, Cuba and Mexico will battle in the first step toward 2016 Olympic Games qualification at the NORCECA Champions Cup at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The event is free. For more information, CLICK HERE.

The following weekend, the U.S. Men will begin World League when they host Iran at the Galen Center on May 30 and 31 in Los Angeles. On June 5 and 6, the U.S. Men will play Russia at the Walter Pyramid at Long Beach State. On June 12 and 13, the United States will host Poland at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. For more information and to purchase tickets, CLICK HERE.

Finally, in their last U.S. appearance before the World Cup (the first Olympic qualifier), the Men’s National Team will host world No. 1 Brazil for four matches of the USAV Cup between Aug. 20 and 30 at venues around Southern California.


Outside hitter Joe Sunder (Greensburg, Pa.) and Sir Safety Perugia defeated outside hitter Taylor Sander (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Calzedonia Verona, 25-20, 21-25, 26-24, 25-18 on April 22 to advance to the Italian league semifinals. Sunder played as a substitute. Sander scored 12 points on nine kills and three blocks for Verona. On April 25, Perugia fell to Energy TI Diatec Trentino in the best-of-three semifinals, 29-31, 25-18, 25-23, 25-18. Sunder played as a substitute and started the second set. He scored three points on three kills.


In the second match of the playoff finals, Asseco Resovia Rzeszow, with middle blocker Russell Holmes (Fountain Valley, Calif.) and outside hitter Paul Lotman (Lakewood, Calif.), defeated opposite Murphy Troy (St. Louis, Mo.) and his Polish PlusLiga team Lotos Trefl Gdansk, 19-25, 25-19, 25-21, 23-25, 15-13 on April 24. Neither Holmes nor Lotman played for Rzeszow. Troy led Gdansk with 22 points on 15 kills, three blocks and a match-high four aces. The teams will play again in the best-of-five series on April 28.


Middle blocker Max Holt (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Dinamo Moscow finished third in the Russian league playoffs after defeating Gazprom Yugra Surgut, 2-0. On April 23, Moscow beat Surgut, 25-17, 25-18, 25-22. Holt scored nine points on six kills, two blocks and one ace. On April 26, Moscow won 22-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-14, 15-12. Holt scored 10 points on seven kills, one block and two aces.


The Berlin Recycling Volleys, including libero Erik Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii), setter Kawika Shoji (Honolulu, Hawaii) and outside hitter Scott Touzinsky (St. Louis, Mo.), now lead Friedrichshafen, 2-1 in the best-of-five finals playoffs. After losing the first match on April 18, Berlin came back to win, 22-25, 25-19, 25-18, 20-25, 15-10 on April 22. Touzinsky scored 13 points on 11 kills and two aces. Kawika Shoji scored four points on one block and a match-high three aces. He also set Berlin to a .421 hitting efficiency. Erik Shoji was credited with 23 receptions, 78 percent positive. On April 26, Berlin won 26-24, 25-21, 25-15. Touzinsky scored eight points on eight kills. Kawika Shoji scored three points on a match-high three aces. He set Berlin to a .387 hitting efficiency. Erik Shoji was credited with five receptions, 40 percent positive. The teams will play again on April 30.


Middle blockers David Smith (Saugus, Calif.) and Dan McDonnell (Glendale, Ariz.) and their French team Tours won their first match of the playoff semifinals against AS Cannes, 25-19, 20-25, 18-25, 25-21, 17-15 on April 25. McDonnell scored 15 points on 13 kills and two blocks. Smith added 12 points on six kills and five blocks. The teams will play again on April 29.