Young setter Micah Christenson serves as a good role model on and off the court
Bydgoszcz, Poland, September 14, 2014 – Young USA setter Micah Christenson have carried USA to win the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World League last July, and have a tougher job to orchestrate the USA offence in the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship, as his team competes in Pool E at the Luczniczka Hall to advance to the third round.
The Hawaii native, together with World League MVP Taylor Sander, and libero Erik Shoji, may be new to the competition but the World League victory have certainly boosted the confidence of the team.
“Winning World League is something that gave us confidence coming into this World Championship because we are a pretty young team,” Christenson said. “Taylor Sander and I have our first year of playing in the World League. So, it’s my second summer and his first, and our libero Erik Shoji is on his second summer as well.”
Christenson admitted that the younger players’ experience in the World League and World Championship have been nurturing to their level of play, but humbly acknowledged that there is still a big room for improvement to make it until the end.
“We have not really experienced a lot of national team high-level volleyball,” Christenson said. “So being able to win the World League kind of gave us a lot of confidence knowing that we can compete and play at a high level. It was a big help coming into the World Championship, but this is a completely new tournament for us. We really need to prove ourselves again and we really believe that we need to get a lot better to win this tournament.”
In the first round of competition, USA have played in tough Pool D with France, Iran, Italy, Belgium and Puerto Rico. But since their victory against Italy in the first round, USA are on a winning streak of four matches.
“I think we are getting better throughout each match,” Christenson said about his team’s peak form in the second round. “We started a little slow. We weren’t playing as well as we had finished the World League. We started to play better in the second round and hopefully we can continue to improve because we are going to need need it, if we are able to qualify for the third round. It’s going to get harder, so we really need to improve.”
The team’s journey had been tough but also proved the kind of squad they are – unyielding to the difficult challenges they may face in the competition. Christenson’s playmaking skill was the centre of attention, on how he would direct his attackers to fare with an unbeaten Polish squad. The setter pulled through and carried his team to a 3-1 victory over the hosts.
“It felt very good, they are a very good team,” Christenson said with a sigh of relief. “We got to watch them compete in the World Championship and it was a relatively different team than the World League, so being able to be the first team to beat them was something important to us. We really needed to win that match because we were in the brink of elimination. It was such a big accomplishment for us to be able to beat the home team."
Christenson has very big respect for their beaten opponents and should an opportunity come for another face-off, he believes that it will be a harder match against the hosts.“We know that if we matchup with them again, it’s going to be another hard-fought battle,” Christenson said. “So we need to get a lot better.”
Christenson also admires the Polish supporters and their overwhelming appreciation of the sport, creating a healthy atmosphere for all the teams.
“The one thing that stands out to me is the crowd, they are just awesome,” Christenson said. “Everyone comes out to support and enjoy good volleyball. It’s a lot of fun to play in front of the Polish fans. They know how to appreciate good volleyball. When we played Poland in their home turf, that’s the biggest crowd we could ever get.”
Apart from his big accomplishments on the court, Christenson still keeps a normal life. He knows his big role in the team but never forgets his responsibilities as a university student and makes sure that there is a balance between the two.
“I’ve missed three weeks of school already,” Christenson said. “When I go back to the hotel, I do some assignments and communicate with my teachers at the University of Southern California. They have been very helpful to me, while I am away because of the competition. It’s a pretty unique opportunity that I get to compete here and still be in college. It has been smooth as it can be.”
Christenson have kept his humility above his achievements, which evidently comes out from the importance he gives to his lineage.
“I am from Hawaii and the Hawaiian word for family is ‘ohana’, and that term is very much portrayed out there. So everyone supports the local boy from Hawaii. We have a decent amount of boys from Hawaii in the USA team, so it’s been nothing but support and love. I can always count on my family and my friends back home. They always support me no matter what.”