COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 12, 2016) – Max Holt was one of those kids.
Growing up in Cincinnati, he was one of those kids who dreamed of playing volleyball on the biggest stage in the world at the Olympic Games.
“That was my dream as soon as I started playing volleyball,” said Holt, 29. “I always told myself, ‘That’s where you want to be.
When he finally made it onto the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team (after being passed over in 2012), to paraphrase the musical Hamilton, he was “not going to miss his shot.”
Holt played his best volleyball of the season and maybe of his career in Rio de Janeiro as the U.S. Men won the bronze medal and for that he has been named the 2016 Male Indoor Player of the Year.
“Really, this summer and the whole four years is all about how you perform at the Olympic Games,” U.S. Head Coach John Speraw said. “Max had a really incredible tournament, which is why we felt he was deserving.”
Holt was the second-leading blocker of the Olympic Games with 20 blocks for an average of .65 per set (Holt started all 31 sets the U.S. played in Rio). He was also second among all servers with 12 aces (.39 per set). He scored on 45 kills (.538 hitting efficiency) to put him 13th among all Olympic scorers.
“If we had played for a gold medal, I thought Max could have been the Olympic MVP,” Speraw said. “I thought he was the best middle blocker of the tournament.”
“You try to prepare yourself and imagine what it is going to be like,” Holt said of the Olympic Games. “But I had no idea just how amazing it really is. Walking away with a bronze medal made it that much more special for me.”
Looking at the end-of-year statistics for the U.S. Men’s Team, Holt led the team in aces (24, .46 per set), was second in blocks (33, .63 per set) and fourth in kills (80, 1.5 per set). He ended up as the fourth-leading scorer on the team with 137 points.
Holt’s season was not perfect. He missed several FIVB World League pool play matches with an injured ankle; and then there was that five-set loss to Italy in the Olympic semifinals.
“The loss to Italy was the worst loss I’ve ever experienced,” Holt said. “That match was a back-and-forth dogfight and unfortunately ended with crushing our gold medal dreams. Regrouping and coming back for the bronze against the Russians was, well, difficult. I don’t remember the scores of the first two sets but it felt like they crushed us.”
The final score of the bronze medal match was 23-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-19, 15-13.
“We saw the podium getting out of reach and we came back and played some our best volleyball of the quad, highlighted by an epic performance by Reid Priddy,” Holt said.
Holt also played a key role in the bronze-medal match, scoring 13 points, including a team-leading three aces.
Holt is playing in Italy this winter for Azimut Modena, which is in second place in the league. He is second in scoring among middle blockers in the league and fifth in aces.
At age 29, Holt has time to progress and improve on the four-year road to Tokyo 2020.
PAST MALE INDOOR PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
2015: Matt Anderson
2014: Matt Anderson
2013: Matt Anderson
2012: Matt Anderson
2011: Clay Stanley
2010: Clay Stanley
2009: Sean Rooney
2008: Reid Priddy
2007: Ryan Millar