Men’s international update: Tough week for Americans in Europe

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Pro Men's Notebook 1/9/2019
ModenaVolley with the triple block, from left, Tine Urnaut, Simone Anzani, and Micah Christenson/ModenaVolley Twitter photo

This is Blair Lambert’s VolleyballMag.com weekly men’s professional volleyball report, featuring Americans around the world. Got a note about a player or a comment for Blair? Email him at blairlambert2@gmail.com

Italy: The new year started off with a giant matchup between the top two teams in Italy. Itas Trentino was able to earn a sweep over Sir Safety Perugia after surviving a 35-33 final set and facing multiple set points.

Aaron Russell scored 11 points in the win with 10 kills and one block but only hit .154. Filippo Lanza, the player who took his place at Perugia scored six points on five kills and a block with a .167 hitting percentage. Uros Kovacevic led Trentino with 17 points from 14 kills, two blocks, and one service ace with a .480 attack average. Srecko Lisinac contributed 11 points in the middle for Trentino.

Wilfredo Leon led Perugia with 15 points, and Aleksandar Atanasijevic contributed 11 points. Jonah Seif was used as a substitute in the first and third sets. The outcome of this match has put Trentino in first place with a 14-2 record and 41 points. Perugia falls to second place with a 13-3 record on 39 points.

Modena followed up the disappointing performance against Sora with a commanding 3-0 win over BCC Castellana Grotte. Micah Christenson set Modena to an astounding .585 attack average. Max Holt scored six points on five kills and an ace with an .833 hitting percentage and no attack errors. Giulio Pinali, the starting opposite due to Zaytsev’s absence, scored 17 from 13 kills, three blocks, and two aces while hitting .619. Modena is still in fourth place heading into 2019.

Azimut Leo Shoes Modena remained in fourth place with a 3-0 victory over Consar Ravenna on Sunday. Christenson set Modena to a .432 hitting percentage and contributed three points on three blocks. Ivan Zaytsev was back in the lineup and led Modena with 14 points. Max Holt injured his ankle in the morning warm-up session and was out of the match. The club was going to conduct tests on the ankle this week, but the severity of the injury had not been published by the time of this writing. Modena remained in fourth position with a 13-3 record and 37 points.

Lube Civitanova boasts a 14-2 record and is in third place behind Perugia with only 38 points due to four victories coming in five sets. Lube beat Calzedonia Verona in five sets on Sunday after falling to a 1-2 deficit. With Jiri Kovar back for Lube after serving a suspension due to the use of banned substances, Brenden Sander was left off the roster. Kovar was used in the second set and started in the third, but had serious problems in serve receive. Fifty percent of his reception attempts resulted in passing errors. Tsvetan Sokolov led Lube with 24 points on 18 kills, one ace, and five blocks. Stephen Boyer posted 25 points for Verona from 20 kills, three blocks, and a pair of aces.

Russia: Matt Anderson was only used as a substitute in the third set of a 3-0 sweep over Yenisei Krasnoyarsk. He did not score any points in the win, and Zenit Kazan was led by 18 points from Maxim Mikhailov. Paul Carroll, formerly of Pepperdine University, led the attack for Yenisei with 16 points.

Anderson was back in the starting lineup on Tuesday when Zenit Kazan beat Yugra Samotlor in four sets. He was the match’s top scorer with 20 points on thirteen kills, four blocks, and three aces. Earvin N’Gapeth contributed 16 points from 13 kills, two blocks, and one ace. Mikhailov finished with 12 on 10 kills, a block, one service ace.

Fakel Novy Urengoy bounced back from a defeat the previous week to beat Yugra-Samotlor in a sweep on Saturday. Samotlor was able to keep serves away from Erik Shoji, who only passed one ball the entire match.

Germany: There was only one match in the German Bundesliga involving an American player. Tanner Syftestad scored two points on two kills with a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage in United Volleys Frankfurt’s 3-1 win over SWD powervolleys Duren on Sunday. Syftestad, an opposite from UCSD, was used as a substitute in the second and third sets. Daniel Ford was not used by Duren in the match.

Finland: Hurrikaani Loimaa played two matches and earned two wins. On Saturday Matt West set Hurrikaani Loimaa to a .352 hitting percentage in a 3-0 victory over the Vantaa Ducks. West returned to the court on Tuesday, January 9th and set his team to a .266 attack average in a 3-1 win over third-placed Savo Volley.

Looking Ahead
Poland: Asseco Resovia vs. ONICO Warsaw, January 11 — There has not been much to be excited about for the fans of Asseco Resovia. The team is sitting down in 11th position with a 4-8 record. The one bright spot for the perennial Polish giant is that it has won its last three matches to close out 2018. Resovia faces ONICO, a team sitting in second place, who won the previous meeting back on October 17th.

Speaking with someone close to Resovia, the match against ONICO in the second week of the season was seen as a bit of a catalyst for its downward spiral throughout the months of October and November after losing a tough five-set affair against Aluron Virtu Warta Kawierce to open the league. It will be interesting to see what Resovia is able to do at libero with current injuries, and one should look to see if Kawika Shoji will be able to start alongside Dave Smith as the team works within foreign quota rules.

France: Rennes vs. Tours, January 12 — The top two teams in the French Ligue A will open up 2019. Rennes and Tours both boast 9-2 records, while Rennes holds a 29-26 advantage in standings points. Mitch Stahl has had a difficult time breaking into the lineup at middle blocker for Tours, but one must look if he can seize opportunities after the holiday break.

Italy: Lube Civitanova vs. Sir Safety Perugia, January 12 — Perugia lost its hold of the top spot in the Italian SuperLega after a 3-0 sweep at the hands of Itas Trentino last week. The defending champions (13-3) are now in second place but have a worse win-loss record than Lube Civitanova (14-2).

Lube has been finding ways to win, and they now have Jiri Kovar back in the lineup after serving a suspension for using a banned substance. It remains to be seen whether or not he will be in the starting lineup, since he struggled mightily in serve receive in limited action Calzedonia Verona. Kovar’s reintroduction to the team may have pushed Brenden Sander off the bench as the rookie from BYU did not dress out last weekend. Seif will likely be used in a substitute roll for Perugia as a setter in the front row late in some sets. The winner of this match will likely remain in second place.

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