COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 8, 2019) – There are a lot of things to notice about Matt Anderson on the volleyball court.

There are big hits, massive blocks and aces that seem to come just when they’re needed.

Less exciting, but perhaps more important is Anderson’s dependability and consistency.

In 2018, Anderson, 31, was the U.S. Men’s top scorer for the eighth straight year, leading in both kills and aces.

He helped the team win bronze medals at both the major FIVB competitions: Volleyball Nations League and the World Championship. He was named best opposite of each event. The U.S. Men were ranked No. 2 in the world for the entire season.

For his dedication, Anderson has been named USAV Male Indoor Player of the Year for the fifth time in his career.

Emailing from Russia where he plays for the pro team Zenit Kazan, Anderson said winning bronze medals at the VNL Final Round and World Championship were highlights of the season.

He is also feeling more positive than he did during the winter of 2014-15 when he took a highly-publicized break from the sport. His close-knit family and a new girlfriend have helped him focus more on his life off the court.

“I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

But there were still challenges in 2018.

“Finding the balance between training and rest was the biggest challenge this season,” he said. “With very limited time off, and now age, the balance between training and rest is getting harder to find.”

Anderson started 45 out of 70 sets in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League (VNL) and 40 out of 45 sets at the World Championship. He finished the season with 327 kills (.475 hitting efficiency), 35 aces (.41 per set) and 24 blocks (.28 per set).

The 2019 season will be far busier than 2018 and will include VNL (with the finals in the United States), an intercontinental Olympic qualification tournament, the NORCECA Champions Cup (a qualifier for the FIVB World Cup) and – assuming the team qualifies – the FIVB World Cup.

“In 2019, I am looking forward to fighting for more medals and qualifying for the 2020 Olympics with some of my closest friends,” he said. “We have another jam-packed competition schedule and it will take all of us to accomplish our goals.”

And what do the U.S. Men need to do to get ready for Olympic qualifying?

“Our coaching staff has created a great process-oriented mindset in our training gym,” he said. “This helps us elevate our game in big-time, pressure matches. Our job as players is to apply those skills and to be in the moment, have fun, and compete our butts off.”