The following content is presented by Nissan. It does not reflect the work or opinions of the NBC stations news staff. Click here to learn more about Nissan.
In our Thrills in Tokyo series, we’ll highlight some of the summer Olympics biggest competitions. More than just focusing on the teams, we’ll look at the colleges from which these athletes hail.
In recent summer Olympics, it hasn’t exactly been raining gold for Team USA’s Men’s Indoor Volleyball squad. In fact, the players haven’t gotten the top prize since 2008, when the men won in Beijing.
But with the Tokyo games come new hope. And among those looking to lead the team to victory are two men who’ve been volleyball mates since their days at Penn State University. In fact, the duo, Matt Anderson and Maxwell (Max) Holt, both 34, helped the college win its second NCAA championship in 2008. They’ve also served together on one previous Olympic team, in 2016 (Anderson also played in 2012). Plus, in recent years, they’ve won other top medals in the sport at competitions like the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball.
Anderson, in particular, has gotten praise. “He has become one of the best volleyball players in the world,” John Speraw, USA Men’s Volleyball coach, has said. “He obviously is incredibly versatile. He can play opposite and outside.”
The player, a Buffalo, New York native, has certainly had enough experience. After his junior year at Penn State, he left college to play with a team in South Korea and has also played professionally in Russia and Italy. At 25, Anderson was the youngest player on the 2012 U.S. Men’s Olympic Volleyball Team. Now playing at his third Olympics, he credits his success to good instincts. “It’s the ability to want the ball in the right moments,” Anderson has said. “And to be comfortable and trust myself that I’ll make the right decision.”
Holt, a member of the U.S. National Team since 2009, brings his own special talents to the sport. In five international matches since 2013, Holt was named Best Middle Blocker. On top of that, he comes with plenty of medals in his trophy case. In several international competitions over the years, Holt has collected three gold, two silver, and four bronze. And know that he doesn’t take any of it for granted.
“I remember it like it was yesterday—putting on the U.S. jersey for the first time, even though it was for the youth national team,” he has said. “It was one of my best memories of all time. And training at that level with the best kids your age in the country is really special. It’s at that moment when you realize, wow, I am in the pipeline. I can go to the Olympics someday.”
Other noteworthy team members who’ll spike alongside Anderson and Holt include setter Micah Christenson, 28, and outside hitter Garrett Muagututia. Christenson has one previous Olympics under his belt (Rio) while Muagututia, 33, makes his debut in Tokyo. Like Anderson and Holt, the two players have made their mark on the world stage with a total of 14 medals between them. Now the question remains whether the squad can add one more gold to their arsenal.
For sports excitement, turn to the Olympics. For driving thrills, click here to see what Nissan has to offer.
Catch full Olympic coverage on NBC, including Men’s Volleyball, USA vs. Argentina, tomorrow, Sunday at 8:45 a.m. ET.