This is Blair Lambert’s 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

This edition of the notebook includes recaps of Americans competing in the CEV Champions League, CEV Cup, CEV Challenge Cup, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Germany, France, Belgium, Greece, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Finland. There are also a few matches to watch for in the upcoming week.

CEV Champions League Pool A: United Volleys Frankfurt dropped a match to Knack Roeselare, but remained in second place by going five sets. Sam Holt played in the fourth and fifth sets as a substitute for Roeselare but did not score any points. Tanner Syftestad came off the bench in the third and fourth sets but did not score any points.

Matt Anderson was not used by Zenit Kazan in its 3-1 victory over Halkbank Ankara. Maxim Mikhailov (17) and Earvin N’gapeth (14) were the leading scorers for Kazan.

CEV Champions League Pool B: Lube Civitanova continued Italian dominance in the Champions League by means of a 3-0 sweep against ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Kozle, a team currently undefeated in the Polish PlusLiga. ZAKSA’s only other loss this season was to Azimut Leo Shoes Modena in the second leg of the group stage in this tournament. While Brenden Sander was not on the squad for the match, Lube was led by Yoandy Leal (14 points), Tsvetan Sokolov (13 points) and Osmany Juantorena (10 points). Lube remains perfect with a 3-0 record and nine points at the top of the pool while not yet dropping a single set.

Azimut Leo Shoes Modena bounced back from a defeat last week against Revivre Axopower Milan to sweep CEZ Karlovarsko of the Czech Republic. Modena used a lineup comprised of primarily reserves as Max Holt, Ivan Zaytsev, Micah Christenson, and Simone Anzani did not make their way to the court. Jalen Penrose started in the first two sets for Karlovarsko and finished with seven kills while hitting .211.

CEV Champions League Pool C: Taylor Averill was back in the lineup for Chaumont VB 52 after missing last weekend’s match in the French Ligue A. Averill scored 13 points on eight kills, four blocks, and one ace with a .538 hitting percentage in a 3-1 win over ACH Volley Ljubljana of Slovenia. Averill was just two points away from being the top scorer for Chaumont, a team which had four players score at least 13 points. The most impressive stat line of the night came from Michael Saeta. In addition to setting Chaumont to a .358 hitting percentage, Saeta also scored 14 points on seven kills, three blocks, and a match-high four aces. Chaumont remains in a seven point tie with Zenit St. Petersburg at the top of the pool but in second place due to matches won.

CEV Champions League Pool D: Berlin Recycling Volleys encountered its second consecutive loss in the pool at the hands of PGE Skra Belchatow, in by virtue of a sweep in a match that saw Berlin hold an advantage in hitting percentage (.436-.365), blocks (8-1), and passing (45 percent-38 percent).

When asked about the outcome of the match in relation to the statistical advantages, Kyle Russell said, “it was ultimately our own service errors and untimely errors that hurt us in the end.”

Russell started at opposite for Berlin and led the team with 16 points on 14 kills and two blocks. He committed only a single attack error on his way to a .565 hitting percentage from the right side. Dustin Watten led the team with 53 percent positive passes. Jeff Jendryk was used as a substitute in the second set and started the third. The rookie middle blocker finished with one kill on one attempt and one block. Ben Patch was not used by Berlin in the match.

CEV Champions League Pool E: Sir Safety Perugia picked up its third straight win of the competition with a 3-1 win over Arkas Izmir of Turkey. Jonah Seif was used in every set but the third for Perugia, and Aleksandar Atanasijevic led the match with 24 points on 23 kills and an ace. Wilfredo Leon scored 17 points, including four service aces.

Mitch Stahl was used as a substitute in the second set of Tours VB’s loss to Dynamo Moscow. He did not score any points and committed a service error.

CEV Cup: Itas Trentino moved onto the quarterfinals with a 3-1 defeat of Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching, though they had secured advancement to the next round after winning the first two sets. Aaron Russell played in the first two sets and scored five points from four kills and an ace, though he only hit -.059. Matthew Pollock started and played the whole match for the AlpenVolleys and finished with 10 points on four kills and a match-high six blocks.

Ryan Manoogian and TIF Viking Bergen were eliminated from the tournament at the hands of Neftohimic 2010 Burgas. Manoogian played in the third set as the libero and finished with 25 percent positive passes on four attempts.

Ford Store Levoranta Sastamala, or VaLePa, moved onto the quarterfinals after a sweep of Kladno Volejbal cz of the Czech Republic. Arvis Greene did not play in the match for VaLePa.

CEV Challenge Cup: Kevin Rakestraw scored 8 points for Fonte Bastardo Azores in a 3-1 win over Draisma Bynamo Apledoorn of the Netherlands to advance to the quarterfinals. His points came from seven kills and a service ace. His team will face another Portuguese team, Sporting Clube Lisbon, in the quarterfinals.

Brazil: Voleu Um Itapeninga earned its first win of 2019 with a 3-1 decision over Sao Judas Volei. Price Jarman scored 14 points in the middle on nine kills and a match-high five blocks. The rookie from BYU posted a .500 attack average and was named the player of the game. That win puts Itapeninga in eighth place with a 6-7 record.

Taylor Sander did not start for Sada Cruzeiro in its match against San Francisco Saude, but he came off the bench in the second set and finished the match in a 3-0 sweep. Sander scored eight points on seven kills and a block. He did not commit an attack error and hit .778 for first-place Sada against the team in 10th place.

Italy: Itas Trentino fell back into second place after a 3-1 loss to Lube Civitanova. Aaron Russell scored 13 points on 11 kills and two blocks with a .450 hitting percentage. Uros Kovacevic had a difficult time in attack, earning seven kills with seven errors for a .000 attack average. He did not start in the last set for Trentino. Tsvetan Sokolov led the way for Lube with 22 points on 20 kills and two blocks. The Bulgarian opposite posted a .586 hitting percentage in the win. Trentino falls one point behind Perugia in the standings after that defeat but remains three points ahead of Lube. All three teams have a 15-3 record.

Azimut Leo Shoes Modena followed up a Champions League win with a sweep of Top Voley Latina. Max Holt was back in the lineup and scored eight points on five kills, two blocks, one ace, and a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage. Tine Urnaut and Ivan Zaytsev led Modena with 12 and 11 points respectively. Micah Christenson set Modena to a .299 attack average and scored five points of his own on two kills, two blocks, and an ace. Modena remains in fourth place.

Globo Banca Popolare del Frusinate Sora lost its twelfth match of the season in a 3-1 decision to Calzedonia Verona. Kupono Fey led Sora in serve receive with 64 percent positive passes. He also scored 12 points on nine kills, two blocks, one ace, and a .388 hitting percentage.

Jonah Seif was used as a substitute in the first set for Sir Safety Perugia in a 3-0 win over Emmas Villa Siena. Aleksandar Atanasijevic was the only player for Perugia to break into double-digit scoring, finishing with 22 points on the night.

Poland: Asseco Resovia Rzeszów dropped another match in a sweep to GKS Katowice. Kawika Shoji started at setter, and he set Resovia to a .278 hitting percentage. Shoji also contributed a kill and a block in the defeat. Dave Smith finished the match with five points in the middle on four kills and one block while hitting .500.

Jake Langlois came off the bench in the second set for MKS Będzin and finished the match in a 3-0 loss to Indykpol AZS Olsztyn. He finished the match with two kills, one block, and hit -.167. MKS Będzin has still only earned one victory this season.

Germany: Cody Kessel scored 20 points for SVG Lüneburg, but it was not enough to get the victory over United Volleys Frankfurt. Kessel’s points came from 18 kills and two blocks with a .325 hitting percentage in a 3-2 defeat. Tanner Syftestad was used as a substitute in the third, fourth, and fifth sets for Frankfurt but did not register any points.

VCO Berlin earned its first victory of the season with a 3-0 sweep over Helios Grizzlys Giesen. Antwain Aguillard got the start in the middle for Giesen and scored eight points on five kills and three blocks. The former Long Beach State 49er hit .625 without committing an attack error.

Matthew Pollock had a quiet day in the middle for Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching in a sweep of Netzhoppers SolWo Königspark KW. Pollock finished with a kill on three attempts and two blocks in the win. Danilo Gelinski, Unterhaching’s setter, only went to the middle a total of seven times the entire match. The club is still in first place with a 10-1 record and 29 points.

Oliver Martin is making himself productive at his new club in Germany, starting in his second consecutive match for Volleyball Bisons Bühl in a 3-2 victory over WWK Volleys Herrsching. Martin scored 8 points in the middle from four kills, two blocks, and two aces with a .375 attack average. Nick West made a rare start in the middle for Herrsching. He finished with nine points on five kills, three blocks, and a service ace. While West only started in the first two sets, he came off the bench in the third, fourth, and fifth while hitting .300. Griffin Shields started at opposite for Herrsching and led his team with 20 points on 19 kills and a block. The former player from Carthage hit .316.

Mitch Penning started and played the first two sets for TV Rottenburg on Saturday in a 3-0 loss to VfB Friedrichshafen. Penning scored 3 points in the middle with two kills and a block while hitting .143.

Helios Grizzlys Giesen suffered its second defeat of the week by virtue of a 3-1 loss to the Berlin Recycling Volleys. Antwain Aguillard struggled a bit in attack with two kills and a .143 hitting percentage, but he led the match with six blocks. Jeff Jendryk was back in the starting lineup for Berlin and scored 15 points on 10 kills and five blocks with a .769 hitting percentage and no attack errors. Kyle Russell also finished with 15 points for Berlin on nine kills, four blocks, and three service aces. The starting opposite was not the most efficient in attack, hitting only .034. Ben Patch came into the match in the second set and scored three points from two kills, one block, and a .000 attack average. Dustin Watten was not utilized by Berlin.

France: Taylor Averill was back on the floor for Chaumont in the domestic league after missing last week’s match and had a significant impact. The middle blocker led the match with 19 points in a 3-0 victory over Sete. Averill posted eight kills with a .636 attack average, registered a match-high six blocks, and five service aces.

“Taylor and I are quite happy about our connection on the court right now,” said Michael Saeta. “It’s nice knowing as a setter that even if the opposing middle is committing on Taylor, he has the ability to work around any block in front of him.”

Saeta also noted the effect it has on the rest of his options, saying, “other teams feel his presence, allowing me to open up the offense even more.”

Saeta also had an impressive match with four points from the service line and setting Chaumont to a .415 hitting percentage. While he acknowledges his success from the service line, Saeta states, “I know my team has high expectations with my serve, and I enjoy the pressure because it pushes me to score points in a time when it is so hard to stop a team from siding out.”

Dan McDonnell hit -.200 for Tourcoing in a sweep to Narbonne. McDonnell finished with two kills, two blocks, and one service aces.

Mitch Stahl was not featured by Tours in a 3-0 sweep over Ajaccio.

Belgium: Sam Holt was not used by Knack Roeselare in a 3-1 win over BDO Hasrode Leuven on Saturday.

Czech Republic: Matt Walsh and Kevin Gear both started in the middle for AERO Odolena Voda in a 3-1 win over VK Benátky nad Jizerou. Walsh posted 13 points on seven kills and three blocks with a .500 hitting percentage. Gear’s 10 points came on seven kills and three blocks while hitting .667.

Jalen Penrose was used as a substitute for CEZ Karlovarsko in a 3-0 loss at the hands of Dukla Liberec. Penrose put away two kills on five attempts and hit .200.

Mitch Beal was not used by VK Ostrava in a 3-0 victory over Kladno Volejbal cz.

Greece: Garrett Muagututia remains unbeaten with PAOK Thessaloniki after a sweep of MGS AE Komotinis on Saturday. Muagututia led PAOK in passing with 77 percent of his passes being positive and finished with 5 kills. He did not commit an error in attack and hit .455.

Finland: The semifinals of the Finnish Cup took place over the past week with Hurrikaani Loimaa and VaLePa booking places in the finals. Arvis Greene was not featured for VaLePa in the semifinal win over the Vantaa Ducks. Matt West scored seven points on three kills, three blocks, and an ace while setting Hurrikaani Loimaa to a .316 hitting percentage in a win over Karelian Hurmos. Jeff Sprayberry scored two points on the outside with a .142 hitting percentage.

Greene scored 36 points for VaLePa in a five-set win over Kokkola Tiikerit on Saturday in just four sets of action. The rookie opposite from Cal State Northridge scored on 31 kills and 5 blocks with a .490 hitting percentage. Greene’s 4.98 points per set is the highest in the Finnish Mestaruusliiga.

Despite such a large output of points on Saturday, Greene was not in the lineup for VaLePa on Sunday against Hurrikaani Loimaa. West set Hurrikaani to a .397 hitting percentage in a 3-0 sweep of VaLePa. West also scored four points on two kills, one block, and one ace. That win pulls Hurrikaani within two points of VaLePa at the top of the standings.

Switzerland: Lucas Yoder played in the first and fourth sets for Biogas Volley Nafels in a 3-1 loss to Lindaren Volley Amriswil. Yoder finished with one kill and hit -.250 in the defeat.

Scott Fifer started the match at setter for TV Schönenwerd in a 3-0 sweep over TSV Jona Volleyball on Saturday. Fifer set his team to a .485 hitting percentage and scored three points on two kills and a block.

Looking Ahead
Brazilian Cup: Sada Cruzeiro vs. Copel Telecom Maringá Vôlei, January 26 — Maringa knocked off Sesi-SP in the quarterfinals earlier in the week and booked a date with Sada Cruzeiro, the winner of the last three editions of the Copa Brasil. Taylor Sander has been the leading scorer for Sada Cruzeiro and is looking to win his first title since arriving in Brazil.

Germany: Berlin Recycling Volleys vs. VfB Friedrichshafen, January 23 — Both teams are sitting at 9-3 in the German Bundesliga and both teams are struggling to qualify for the playoffs in the Champions League. One of these teams has won the championship every year since 1998, but neither are at the top of the standings at this point in the season. A win from either team will be big as Berlin won their last meeting in five sets on the road behind 23 points from Samuele Tuia. Jendryk started that match and contributed 8 points, while Kyle Russell came off the bench in the second set, scoring 14 points before the end.

French Cup: Chaumont vs. Nice, January 22 — As of this posting, this quarterfinal matchup between Chaumont and Nice is over. The match put two teams against each other that are just two wins apart in the Ligue A. Chaumont has shown it can hang with and beat some of Europe’s elite clubs, but has also faced difficulty against domestic competition. Saeta and Averill were the top two scorers for Chaumont over the weekend, and their ability to take over matches from attack and the service line is something quite special.

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