Micah Christenson digging against Bulgaria

It was a great team win for USA as the Americans shut out Bulgaria in their second match at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship 2022 in Katowice on Sunday. But one man clearly stood out as both an all-around player and a true team leader. That was captain Micah Christenson, even though he was on the court only during the first two sets of the game.

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Christenson opened the match with a one-man kill block in the first rally and set the tone for his team’s domination on the way to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 26-24) victory that put the United States on top of the current Pool C standings and practically secured them a spot in the Round of 16. If home favourites Poland defeat underdogs Mexico in the other pool match later on Sunday, both the co-hosts and USA will have booked their tickets to the knockout stage of the World Championship.


Micah Christenson, David Smith and TJ Defalco in a three-man block against Bulgarian star Tsvetan Sokolov

Christenson’s magic in setting for the American spikers is what the 29-year-old playmaker does best on the court and the game against Bulgaria was no exception. Although reception was probably the team’s worst element and the only one they performed under the level of their opponents in this match, the setter managed to create plenty of opportunities in offence leading to an overall success rate of 48% in attack.

Micah himself delivered points in all three elements. Most of all, he impressed with his four stuffs, three of which came from one-man blocks. That count made him the best blocker of the match, along with Bulgarian middle Aleks Grozdanov, who also scored four times in blocking. The 1.98m-tall playmaker also shone with points coming from a great hit on two in the first set and a brilliant ace in the second set to tally a match total of six points, which made him the team’s fourth best scorer of the game, despite his position as a setter and despite being on the court only during the first two sets of the match.

Without speculating as to why Christenson was subbed out for the third set, it was definitely not because he was not having a good day on the court. Hopefully, the reason was not some kind of health issue, but rather a chance for him to get some rest and save some energy ahead of the big game against Poland on Tuesday.

Rest he did not. Even while on the bench, Micah stayed active in his role as a team captain, encouraging his teammates from the sidelines during the rallies and even delivering motivating pep talks during the time-outs. And that certainly had something to do with the character the Americans showed in the money time of the third set when facing a triple Bulgarian set point and reacting with five points in a row to close the match in three and celebrate with the victory.

Christenson has been a member of the US national team since 2013. In his great career as an American international, he won an Olympic silver in 2016, a World Championship bronze in 2018, two FIVB Volleyball World Cup medals, including a 2015 gold, three Volleyball Nations League medals and two FIVB Volleyball World League medals, including a 2015 trophy. On five of those occasions - the last edition of the World Championship, the last two editions of the World Cup and the 2022 and 2019 editions of the VNL - he was honoured on the Dream Team as the Best Setter of the tournament.