Christenson always aiming higher


LAUSANNE, Switzerland, December 9, 2020 – Micah Christenson took home the Best Setter award at each of the four most recent international tournaments he competed at with the United States national team, but he does not see himself as the best in the world in his position. And he probably never will.


The ‘unfinished business’ mentality is what drives the 27-year-old Hawaiian-born setter, and what makes him always look for more, even after being voted the best in his position at the 2018 FIVB Volleyball World Championships, the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League, the 2019 Olympic Qualifier and the 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup.


“To see my name included in what’s a very large list of elite setters around the world and to be considered one of them, it’s very humbling,” Christenson said in an interview with the Viral Volley podcast


“But it’s also motivation. I don’t want to be one of the many, I want to be the one, the unanimous decision. There’s always more to achieve and if you’re satisfied with where you’re at, then you’ll never really push yourself to be the best you can be. I’m trying to be the best Micah Christenson I can be and the best setter for the USA I can be.”


Christenson’s hard-working mentality and his talent have taken the Americans far. Since joining the team in 2013, he has helped the United States prevail at both the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World League and the 2015 World Cup, besides securing multiple medals over the last seven years, most notably bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympics and bronze and silver at the 2018 and 2019 editions of the Volleyball Nations League, respectively.


The big prize, however, remains ahead of them, Christenson believes. After all, the entire reason he switched his childhood passion for basketball for a career in volleyball was that he wanted to repeat what an American team led by Lloy Ball, Reid Priddy and fellow Hawaiian Clayton Stanley achieved by winning gold at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. 


“That 2008 Beijing team, their journey was a real inspiration for me,” the Modena setter reflected. “When I watched those guys winning that gold medal, I thought I wanted to do what they had just done and to have that same feeling. That’s always been with me and still is.”


The Americans will head into Tokyo next summer among the favourites to win gold after several solid seasons. In 2018 and 2019, the team were on the podium at each of the five international tournaments they appeared at, and were the only team in the world to reach that level of consistency.


Some could see the postponement of the Olympics to 2021 as a blow to the Americans as the extended break could hurt their momentum. Christenson, however, sees things differently.


“I believe the postponement could actually work to our favour in a certain way,” he explained. “We had a couple of important players who recently had shoulder surgeries in Taylor Sander and Thomas Jaeschke and that extra year will give us more time to get everyone healthy. It’s not only fully recovering, but being able to play an entire club season, getting their rhythm back and understanding how to deal with their shoulders after surgery. Hopefully that will make us stronger.”


Whether the Americans win gold in Tokyo and fulfil Christenson’s childhood dream or not, only time will tell. But one thing is certain. With or without the gold medal around his neck, he will not be satisfied.