Long Beach State outside hitter Alex Nikolov shocked the college volleyball world on Friday when he announced his departure from the LBSU program in order to begin his professional career immediately.

Nikolov has signed a pro contract with Lube Volleyball in Italy.

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Nikolov was the 2022 AVCA National Player of the Year as a true freshman, becoming the first-ever first year player to earn the distinction.

His 4.63 kills per set led the Big West Conference leaderboard, while his 0.58 service per set was second in the country.

Nikolov was also unquestionably the best player the University of Hawaii faced in the 2022 season, registering 79 kills and eight aces over four matches against the Rainbow Warriors. The Beach and ‘Bows split their 2022 season series. LBSU won the first two matches, while UH won the Big West championship match and national championship match over the Beach.