Long Beach State volleyball’s Alex Nikolov makes history with national honor – Daily News

LOS ANGELES — Long Beach State outside hitter Alex Nikolov added a prestigious honor to his sensational freshman season on Wednesday night, and he made history in the process.

Nikolov was named the National Player of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) on Wednesday night at the NCAA Banquet. He is the first player in AVCA history to win the award as a freshman.

Nikolov, who will lead top-seeded Long Beach (20-5) into an NCAA semifinal against UCLA (22-4) on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion, joins former LBSU standouts Brent Hilliard (1992), Paul Lotman (2008), Taylor Crabb (2013), TJ DeFalco (2017, 2019), and Josh Tuaniga (2018) in winning the AVCA national honor.

The 6-foot-8 Nikolov, from Bulgaria, has been phenomenal offensively. His 4.60 kills per set leads the Big West Conference and ranks third in the nation. Nikolov had a career-high 28 kills in a four-set Big West Tournament semifinal victory over UC Irvine last month, one of his seven 20-kill performances this season.

His hitting has been outstanding as well. His attack percentage of .385 paces LBSU, ranks second in the conference and 16th in the country. Nikolov has hit .300 or higher in 20 matches this season, including a season-best .667 against UC San Diego (13 kills, one error on 18 swings).

He leads the nation in service aces (0.61 per set) and with 57 total is just three short of Lotman’s program record (2008) with potentially two matches still to play.

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