Despite being a freshman, Alex Nikolov was the best player for Long Beach State from the start of last season. For that matter, it was pretty evident the 6-foot-7 Bulgarian was the best player in the men’s college game.

After topping Long Beach in kills (second in the nation with 468, 4.63/set, while hitting .386) and aces, he was named the AVCA national player of the year. He’s the first freshman to win the award.

After the Beach made it to the NCAA final match, Nikolov then led his country in Volleyball Nations League

The plan always was to return to Long Beach. But things change, especially when you become an international star.

“I was 100-percent committed to stay four years at Long Beach,” Nikolov said. He added, “I left everything at Long Beach. It just goes to show I truly wanted to stay.”

However, Nikolov said he’s thrilled that he will be playing professionally this season in Italy.

“This is my dream since I was young,” he said.

In our interview, Nikolov offers heart-felt insight in how he decided to leave and how much he enjoyed his time at Long Beach:

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Alex Nikolov took this photo with John Speraw when Bulgaria played the USA in VNL/Volleyball World photo

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