NCAA: Nicolas Szerszen
For the second straight year the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated BYU in the NCAA final. Nicolas Szerszen lead the Buckeyes with 16 kills on 24 attempts, 8 digs, and one block. This year the Buckeyes captured the title in front of over 8200 fans at home at the St. John Arena in Columbus Ohio. Nicolas credits the success of the Buckeyes to their focus and preparation. “There is only one reason: the hard work. It goes through taking each game as seriously and as important as the other. Coming early to get extra reps.” Nicolas added “I also think we all were a group of friends who enjoyed to play together.”
Nicolas grew up in France and made the decision to attend Ohio State University to study engineering. If he had stayed in Europe he would have had to focus on playing professionally or continuing his studies. Ohio State was the perfect fit where he could continue his studies and compete at a high level with the Buckeyes. Nicolas isn’t the first player from the France National Team to have a great career in the NCAA. Kevin Tillie was a starting outside hitter for UC Irvine where he won two NCAA National Championships in 2012 and 2013 before joining the France National Team that won the 2015 World League. A bigger influence on Szerszen decision to join the NCAA was his sister Anna, who still ranks in the top 20 for career kills and points as member of the Ohio State Women’s Volleyball team from 2006-2010.
“The NCAA is more physical. It's more of a power game I would say. The European game is more technical.”
Nicolas started volleyball at age 6, which is early compared to many North American athletes. His high level of skill and knowledge of the sport can be seen with his hitting efficiency and his world class serves. In 2016 Nicolas was awarded the American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Year while hitting .384, with 516 kills in 34 matches, adding 63 aces, 206 digs and 57 blocks. He is the first recipient in Ohio State’s history. Szerszen joins former winners and top international players Taylor Sander, Taylor Crabb, Kawika Shoji, and Matt Anderson. Nicolas has represented France on the U19 and U21 National Teams. It’s only natural to compare him to one of the best outside hitters in the world and fellow countryman Earvin Ngapeth. “He's definitely a crazy player. He's doing things that are unseen and amazing. I think everyone should watch and learn as I do.”
“Nicolas is one of those rare athletes that has the million dollar arm, he can hit it an extraordinary high rate.”
- Coach Pete Hanson on Nicolas Szerszen’s serve.
When asked about the Player of the Year Award Nicolas said “It feels good to be recognized and I'm glad I could help my team.“ Nicolas has one year remaining at Ohio State where they will challenge for their third straight national championship. Looking at what he has accomplished already in the NCAA it will be exciting to see his performance in his senior year and how he transitions into his professional career.