By Dave Caldwell
Sports Information Director, The Master’s University
Nolan Flexen of The Master’s University has been named the NAIA Player of the Year in men’s volleyball, with his teammate Diego Perez earning Second Team All-American and head coach Jared Goldberg the NAIA Coach of the Year.
Flexen led the nation in kills per set (5.3), hitting percentage (0.451) and points per set (5.9). The outside hitter also set program season records in kills (424), total attacks (748) and service aces (28). During the NAIA National Championship Tournament, he broke three records with 35 kills in a match, 65 attack attempts in a match and most kills in the tournament (89).
It is the second national player of the year honor for the 6-foot-10 freshman as he was also given the top player recognition last week by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
“It is a well-deserved honor,” said Goldberg on Flexen’s NAIA nod. “He carried our team offensively and was one of the more consistent players throughout the year. He wasn’t really slowed down at any time, even when teams were focusing on him. He did a great job leading our team and delivering, especially offensively.”
For the second year in a row, Perez made the All-American list, this year moving up to second team from honorable mention. The outside hitter/libero finished the season with 175 digs (2.46 per set) and was second on the team with 27 service aces.
“He started the year as an outside hitter, then had an ankle injury,” Goldberg said. “At that point of the year, we were trying to figure out our team. So, when he was healthy enough to play, we had him in the libero position as his ankle got healthy and he obviously stayed there. He led our passing unit no matter what position he was playing. When Diego is (in the back row), many teams are trying to avoid him because they know how good of a passer he is.”
Goldberg led the Mustangs to their best season in only four years of existence. Now in his third year at the helm, Goldberg guided the team to a 19-5 record, reaching the semifinals of the NAIA National Championship Tournament and at one point being ranked the No. 1 team in the country.
“Jared has been all we as an institution can ask for,” said TMU Athletic Director Chris Beck. “The peaks and valleys that the team and him personally have seen this year, and to remain constantly focused on the Lord and volleyball, is a testimony of who he is. Congratulations to Jared and his family on this honor. We are excited to have him part of our TMU family, and look forward to the future of Mustangs volleyball.”
TMU is a private, Christian university located in Placerita Canyon.