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 firstname.lastname@example.org
While the CEV Champions League did not have any scheduled matches last week, most leagues had midweek and weekend matches. The Copa del Rey concluded this past weekend and the regular season concluded in Switzerland.
Three Stars: One of the names on this list has been playing phenomenal volleyball against some top competition the last few weeks. Another player was also on the list last week, but played a pair of exceptional matches. The last addition to the list is making a case to be included on the roster for Tokyo this summer.
Micah Christenson, setter, Leo Shoes Modena, Italy — Though he has been one of three recognized players the last two weeks, it is impossible to leave him out after the week he had. Christenson was named MVP of the match as Modena defeated Lube Civitanova, winners of the FIVB World Club Championships, and set his team to a .333 hitting percentage. He followed it up with a win over Allianz Milan in which he set Modena to a .513 attack average. He put in two remarkable performances against two of Italy’s best clubs.
Kyle Russell, opposite, Cannes, France — Russell is back on the list against after averaging 5.625 points per set in two wins. He led his team in both matches: 17 points in three sets against Toulouse and 28 in five sets against Ajaccio. Russell hit .320 and .353 in each of those matches, respectively.
Brenden Sander, outside hitter, Cerrad Czarni Radom, Poland — Sander averaged 1.33 aces per set in a 3-0 win over Assecco Resovia Rzeszów. He was named the MVP of the match, scoring 17 points. Sander contributed 11 kills and two aces. He hit .563 from the left side in the sweep.
Italy: Aaron Russell played in the first two sets before being replaced by Uros Kovacevic as Itas Trentino defeated Allianz Milan 3-1 on February 5. He scored four points on four kills and hit .222.
TJ DeFalco hit .541 on his way to 18 kills for Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia in a 3-1 defeat to Sir Safety Perugia on February 5. He also contributed two blocks and an ace.
Leo Shoes Modena handed Lube Civitanova its second loss of the SuperLega season with a 3-1 decision on February 5. Matt Anderson scored 14 points on 10 kills, two aces, and two blocks and hit .273. Max Holt hit .364 in the middle and finished with nine points. He chipped in five kills, one ace, and three blocks. Christenson also had a kill and a block.
Garrett Muagututia started at outside hitter for Calzedonia Verona and scored eight points in a loss to Kioene Padova on February 5. He hit .250 and had seven kills and a block. Jennings Franciskovic and Cory Chavers did not play for Verona.
Russell started opposite of Kovacevic on February 9 when Trentino beat Padova in five sets. Russell put away 15 kills with a .500 attack average to go with a block and an ace.
Modena continued its eight-match winning streak with a sweep over Milan on February 9. Christenson set Modena to a .513 hitting percentage and had three kills, two aces, and a block. Holt scored 11 points from five kills, one ace, and a match-high five blocks. Anderson finished with 11 kills, two blocks, and an ace with a .409 attack average.
Kupono Fey was used as a substitute in the back row for Globo Banca Popolare Del Frusinate Sora in a 3-1 loss to Top Volley Cisterna. He passed three serves with two of them being rated as positive and one being perfect.
Muagututia scored 17 for Verona in a 3-1 defeat over Vibo Valentia on February 9. He put away 15 kills with a .333 hitting percentage. He also contributed a block and an ace. DeFalco started the first three sets and came off the bench in the fourth. The rookie outside hitter scored seven points on five kills, one block, and one ace while hitting .053 attack.
Russia: Fakel Novy Urengoy dropped a tight match to league-leading Lokomotiv Novosibirsk on February 4. Eric Shoji led Fakel in serve receive with 57 percent of his passes being positive and 17 percent rated as perfect.
Shoji passed 60 percent of his receptions positively and 40 percent were perfect in Fakel’s five-set defeat to Belogorie Belgorod on February 9.
Poland: Ślepsk Malow Suwałki fell to ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle in straight sets on February 5. Josh Tuaniga set Suwałk to a .360 hitting percentage. Dave Smith was used as a substitute in the first set and put away one kill on one attempt.
Dustin Watten passed 46 percent of his service receptions positively and eight percent of his passes were perfect for GKS Katowice in a 3-0 sweep over Aluron Virtu CMC Zawiercie on February 7.
Smith came off the bench in the second set and played the rest of the way for ZAKSA in a 3-1 victory over Cuprum Lubin on February 8. Smith scored 10 points on seven kills, one block, and one ace. He hit .778 without committing an attack error.
Ślepsk Malow Suwałk earned a significant victory over PGE Skra Belchatow on February 9. Tuaniga set his team to a .513 hitting percentage and scored three points in the win. He scored on two blocks and a kill.
Cerrad Czarni Radom defeated Asseco Resovia Rzeszów in straight sets on February 10. Brenden Sander scored 17 points for Radom and was named the MVP of the match. Sander put away 11 kills and a match-high four aces. He hit .563 from the left side. Kawika Shoji started the match at setter for Resovia but was replaced by Marcin Komenda in the first set. He scored a point on a kill.
France: Mitch Stahl scored 10 points in the middle for Chaumont in a sweep of Paris Volley on February 4. He hit .444 on his way to five kills. Stahl also scored on a block and four aces.
Micah Ma’a set Poitiers to a .447 hitting percentage in a 3-1 win over Narbonne on February 4. Ma’a also scored six points on four kills, a block, and a service ace.
Price Jarman did not play for Tours VB in a sweep of Nantes Reze on February 4.
Max Chamberlain came off the bench in the first two sets and started the final two sets for Tourcoing on February 4. He scored a point from an ace in a 3-1 loss to Ajaccio.
Kyle Russell led Cannes with 17 points on a 3-0 victory over Toulouse on February 4. Russel produced on 13 kills, two blocks, and two aces with a .320 attack average. Matt West set Cannes to a .353 attack average and scored two points on two blocks.
Cannes followed up performance on February 7 with a five-set win over Ajaccio. Russell scored 28 on 25 kills, two aces, and a block while hitting .353. West set Cannes to a .358 attack average while scoring on three blocks and a kill.
Chamberlain was used as a serving substitute in the final three sets of a 3-1 defeat to Arago de Sete on February 8 and did not score.
Stahl was not in the lineup for Chaumont in a 3-2 win over Poitiers on February 8. Ma’a set Poitiers to a .248 attack average in addition to scoring six points on three kills, two blocks, and a service ace.
Tours defeated Montpellier in five sets on February 8. Jarman did not play.
Germany: United Volleys Frankfurt earned a three-set win over SVG Lüneburg on February 5. Leo Durkin started the first two sets at setter for Lüneburg and set his team to a .200 hitting percentage in those sets. Michael Michelau came off the bench in the third sets but did not score.
The Berlin Recycling Volleys made quick work of WWK Volleys Herrsching on February 5. Ben Patch led the match with 19 points on 17 kills and two blocks with a .500 hitting percentage from the right side. Jeff Jendryk also hit .500 with seven kills in the middle. Cody Kessel started at outside hitter and finished with seven kills and a block. Kessel hit .353 on the night. Kyle Ensing came off the bench in the second set and had a kill. JT Hatch did not play for for Berlin. Jalen Penrose scored six points from the right side for Herrsching and hit .385.
Greg Petty scored 15 points from the left side for Volleyball Bisons Bühl on February 5 in a 3-1 win against Helios Grizzlys Giesen. All of Petty’s points came on kills, and he hit .244. Michael Wexter led Giesen with 24 points on 22 kills, one block, and an ace. The rookie hit .340. David Wieczorek finished the match with eight kills and a .250 hitting percentage.
VfB Friedrichshafen dropped another match, this time to Netzhoppers KW-Bestensee in four sets on February 5. Brendan Schmidt scored four points in the middle on three kills and a block. Schmidt hit .600 with no errors in attack. Joe Worsley came off the bench in the fourth set for Friedrichshafen.
Herrsching beat SWD powervolleys Duren in a 3-1 decision on February. Penrose led Herrsching with 25 points and was named the MVP of the match. He scored on 21 kills, four aces, and a .382 hitting percentage.
Berlin stayed red-hot in the German Bundesliga with a 3-0 win over SVG Lüneburg on February 8. Patch led Berlin again with 12 kills and hit .579 for the match. Jendryk posted a match-high seven blocks to go with five kills and two aces while hitting .273. Kessel hit .588 without an attack error and finished with 11 points. He registered 10 kills and a block. Hatch did not see any action for Berlin.
VfB Friedrichshafen earned a win over Giesen in four sets on February 9. Schmidt scored two points with a block and a kill but hit -.500 for the match. Worsley did not see the court for Friedrichshafen. Wexter came off the bench in the second and third sets while starting the fourth. He finished with seven kills and hit .210. Wieczorek played the whole match for Giesen, scoring nine points on nine kills with a .250 hitting percentage.
Volleyball Bisons Bühl was swept by Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching on February 9. Petty scored seven points from seven kills and hit .143 in the defeat.
Mitch Penning scored seven points for TV Rottenurg on February 9 in a 3-1 victory over Heitec Volleys Eltmann. Penning scored four kills, two blocks, and an ace. He hit .182 on the night. Karl Apfelbach started the match and played the first two sets for Rottenburg. He put away three kills and two blocks, but hit minus .067.
Belgium: Knack Roeselare swept VBC Waremme on February 5. Joe Norman was used as a substitute in each of the three sets and finished with three points. Norman scored on two kills, one block, and he hit .500.
Czech Republic: Ústí nad Labem lost to Fatra Zlín on February 8. Zach Melcher set Ústí nad Labem to a .217 hitting percentage as a team and had a block and a kill.
Matt August started the first two sets for Volejbal Brno in a 3-2 defeat to CEZ Karlovarsko on February 8. August scored on two kills and an ace and hit .333.
Odolena Voda picked up a 3-1 win over Dukla Liberec on February 8. Kevin Gear scored 10 points on six kills, two blocks, and two aces. He hit .308.
Finland: Kyle Foley started the first set for Karelian Hurmos in a 3-1 win over Raision Loimu on February 8. He set Hurmos to a .263 hitting percentage in that set. Blake Leeson scored 18 points from the right side for Loimu on 17 kills and a block with a .222 attack average. Avery Aylsworth passed 39 percent of his receptions positively and 17 percent perfectly.
The Vantaa Ducks defeated Savo Volley in five sets on February 8. Tommy Carmody scored 16 points in the middle on 14 kills, one ace, and one block and hit .500. Josh Ayzenberg passed 62 percent of his passes positively and 28 percent were classified as perfect for Savo in the loss.
Raison Loimu dropped a match to Etta Oulu in four sets on February 9. Leeson, still at the opposite position, led Loimu with 20 points on 20 kills and a .256 attack average.
Savo defeated VaLePa, the Finnish defending champion, in three sets on February 9. Ayzenberg led Savo in serve receive with 58 percent of his passes being classified as positive and 26 percent being perfect.
Team Lakkapää remained at the bottom of the standings with a 3-0 defeat to Kokkolan Tiikerit on February 9. Ryan Manoogian passed 39 percent of his receptions positively and 17 percent of his passes were classified as perfect.
Slovenia: ACH Volley defeated Salonit Anhovo in the second round of the Slovenian league on February 6. ACH did not participate in the first round of the Slovenian league. Kyle Dagostino led ACH with 64 percent of his passes being rated as positive and 55 percent of his receptions were perfect.
Dagostino put in a 67 percent and 53 percent passing performance on February 8 in a 3-2 win over Mladost Zagreb of Croatia in the MEVZA.
Spain: Unicaja Costa de Almería remained in first place with a 3-1 win over Rio Duero Soria. Amado finished with four points on four kills with a .182 attack average.
Arenal Emevé fell to Ushuaïa Ibiza Voley in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey on February 7. Matthew Knigge led Arenal Emevé with 17 points in the middle in the 3-2 defeat. He scored on 10 kills, two aces, and five blocks with a .519 attack average. February 1. Matthew Knigge scored 11 points on seven kills, two blocks, and two aces. Knigge hit .545 in the win.
Unicaja Costa de Almería received a bye to the semifinals of the cup. Nick Amado scored seven points in the middle in a 3-2 win over Ushuaïa Ibiza Voley on February 8. Amado registered three kills and four aces, but he hit .000 in the win.
Amado scored four points in the cup final on February 9 in a 3-2 defeat to Club Voleibol Teurel. Amado’s points came on two aces and two blocks with a .500 hitting percentage.
Switzerland: Mitch Beal scored 17 points for TSV Jona Volleyball in 3-1 defeat to Chênois Genève Volleyball on February 1. He scored his points on 17 kills with a .400 attack average from the right side. Grayson Overman played in the last two sets and scored three points on a kill and two blocks.
Matt Yoshimoto started at setter for Lindaren Volley Amriswil in a 3-0 victory over TSV Jona Volleyball. Yoshimoto set Amriswil to a .400 hitting percentage. He also scored on two kills and a block. Mitch Beal scored 20 points in his last regular-season match of his professional volleyball career. He had 16 kills, three blocks, and one ace and hit .500 from the right side. Grayson Overman started the first two sets and came off the bench in the third. He finished with two points on two kills.
Netherlands: Collin Mahan led Samen Lycurgus with 17 points on 14 kills, two aces, and a block in a 3-0 win over VoCASA on February 8.
Coming Up: Poitiers vs. Cannes, France, February 15 — Two former setters from the MPSF will be squaring off in this match. Matt West, a veteran of Germany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Finland, helped Cannes get out to a hot start before falling to a 9-11 record. Micah Ma’a, a rookie from UCLA, arrived to his team late due to an issue with his visa. He has Poitiers playing well, but still sitting at an 8-12 record. Kyle Russell of Cannes will be coming into the match after his best three-match run of the season.
Lube Civitanova vs. Itas Trentino, Champions League, February 13 — Trentino has been playing musical chairs with the outside hitter position due to injuries and poor play. Lube is coming off of a loss to Modena, an injury to Yoandy Leal, and the lack of a world-class opposite. Trentino needs a good result to remain in playoff contention in the Champions League and Lube seems vulnerable.
Itas Trentino vs. Leo Shoes Modena, Italy, February 16 — Four of the starting seven in the projected starting lineup for the United States in Tokyo will be on the court. Christenson is the hottest setter in Italy right now, if not the world. It is difficult to find anything wrong with how he has been playing in 2020. Anderson has formed a fantastic partnership with Bartosz Bednorz at outside hitter, and Max Holt has been steady in the middle.