Micah is the man of USC athletics

first_imgHe’s the perfect combination of Cody Kessler and Marcus Mariota. Like Kessler, he’s a standout student athlete at USC, he leads a prolific Trojan offense and he does not get the attention that he deserves in the national media. But like Mariota, he’s arguably the best player in his sport in all of college athletics; he can attack teams in more than one way; he leads a team that will factor prominently in the national championship discussion and he’s a proud Hawaiian.He’s Micah Christenson, the starting setter for the Trojan men’s volleyball team. If you’re new to the Daily Trojan sports section and have never heard of him, this just goes to show that he doesn’t get the attention he deserves because he is arguably the best college volleyball player in the country.Kessler has done a great job leading the USC football team the last two seasons. Playing the most important position for the most popular sports team on campus, Kessler is the face of Trojan athletics. He passed up a chance on entering the NFL draft and elected to return for his senior season; I’m beyond stoked to see him lead next year’s team. With this year’s star-studded recruiting class, some writers have already predicted that USC will finish the regular season in the Top 4 and make the playoff. Kessler is now even getting some of the national press that he deserves; some writers have him on their early Heisman watch-list for next season.But with all due respect to both Kessler and the football team, I think Christenson is the best male athlete on campus. I think the football team will factor into the national championship conversation next year, but that’s not in the near future. Kessler could also very easily get an invitation to the Heisman ceremonies in New York come December, but he has a lot to prove until then.Christenson, on the other hand, is already on that next level. Likewise, this year’s men’s volleyball team is factoring heavily in the national title discussion midway through the season. Given his talent level, the success of his team so far and his playing style, Christenson reminds me much more of Mariota.My loyalty is undoubtedly to USC, but I couldn’t help but root for Mariota and the Ducks a little bit in this year’s first College Football Playoff. Regardless of Oregon’s conference affiliation, I simply loved watching Mariota play. He was so exciting to watch because of his dual-threat abilities. He was a prolific passer and runner, making him the perfect leader to run the Ducks’ high-powered spread/read-option offense. He was a very deserving Heisman Trophy winner as the definitively best player on one of the best teams in the country. But on top of all that, he was very humble all year and avoided any of the off-field issues that have plagued other star college athletes. Though the Ducks just couldn’t put it together against Ohio State in the national championship game, he still had one of the best seasons ever as a college football quarterback and I hope his skills translate over to the NFL.Christenson’s similarity to Mariota is almost striking. As the setter, Christenson is essentially the quarterback of the volleyball team, distributing the ball to his teammates around the courts. Like Oregon’s trademark hurry-up style, the Trojan men’s volleyball team’s offense runs a similarly aggressive, up-tempo style. After someone makes the first pass, Christenson can read where the opposing team is positioned before attacking better than anyone else in the country can.The team has made a point of not only spreading out different attacking options across the floor but also attacking openings quickly before defenses have a chance to move over blockers. The success that the team has enjoyed so far has hinged on Christenson’s ability to quickly and masterfully set.Christenson really is the best in the business at what he does. Last year, he won the award for the top college volleyball setter in the country. He is also the setter for the U.S. national team.The men’s volleyball team is a very legitimate national championship contender this year. The Trojans are currently ranked No. 2 in the nation behind only Loyola-Chicago, the defending national champions. The Trojans are currently in first place in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference standings. In men’s volleyball, the MPSF is like the    Pac-12 and the SEC combined — clearly the best conference in the nation. The Trojans were undefeated through their first seven games this season but they suffered their first loss last week at Hawai’i.The Trojans’ loss to Hawai’i was particularly heart-wrenching. The Trojans won the first two sets of the match but lost the next three. Instead of being mentally drained after such a brutal defeat, the Trojans came back the following match against Hawai’i and won in a thrilling five-set fashion.It was a particularly exciting trip for Christenson because he grew up in Honolulu. The victory showed not only the mental strength of the team as a whole, but also that of Christenson, who must have been under pressure from playing in front of his friends, family and the home crowd. But similar to Mariota, also from Honolulu, Christenson seems unfazed by pressure or high expectations.The Trojan still have a lot of volleyball to play before even thinking about the NCAA tournament, but there is no better player than Christenson in the country to be leading the team.The Trojans play two matches at home against BYU, who finished first in the MPSF last year, this weekend. I would highly encourage any Trojan sports fan to make it out to at least one of those games. Not only will you get to see some great volleyball, but you’ll also witness who I think is USC’s finest student athlete practice his craft.Luke Holthouse is sophomore majoring in policy, planning and development and broadcast and digital journalism. His column, “Holthouse Party,” runs on Wednesdays.last_img

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