International volleyball: Wieczorek, Carmody, Penrose stand out; coronavirus disrupts Italy slate

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International mens volleyball 3/3/2020-SuperLega-Trentino
BLM Group Arena in Trentino hosted the first SuperLega match since play was suspended because of the coronavirus/legavolley.it 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

International volleyball is feeling the effects of the coronavirus as many American players had matches postponed due to outbreaks in Italy. Precautions related to the virus have had a continued impact on the Italian SuperLega as well CEV competitions. Quarterfinal series wrapped up in Switzerland and Belgium. Championship pools progressed in the Netherlands and Slovenia while other leagues are a few weeks away from the commencement of playoffs.

Three Stars: This week sees the addition of a rookie who does not always find himself in the starting lineup, but made the most of an opportunity last week. There is another player making his first appearance on this list, and one who has been producing big numbers throughout the year.

David Wieczorek, outside hitter, Helios Grizzlys Giesen, Germany — Wieczorek’s club is fighting to stay out of the relegation zone in the German Bundesliga, but his performance last week helped keep the team safe. The rookie scored 19 points in a win over Heitec Volleys Eltmann on February 26. Wieczorek put away 15 kills and hit .714 without an error. Wieczorek also contributed three aces and a block.

Tommy Carmody, middle blocker, Vantaa Ducks, Finland — While Carmody was not the most efficient in a 3-1 win over Etta Oulu on February 26 (hitting only .181), he managed to score 11 points (including a match-high four blocks). He followed that up with 13 points on March 1 in a 3-0 victory over Team Lakkapää. That included a 1.000 hitting percentage (eight kills in eight attempts), three aces, and two blocks.

Jalen Penrose, opposite, WWK Volleys Herrsching, Germany — Penrose averaged 5.67 points per set last week in a 3-0 win over Volleyball Bisons Bühl on February 29. He scored in all three areas of the game, contributing 13 kills, two aces, and two blocks. Penrose hit .320 in the win.

Jalen Penrose gets introduced before leading his team to victory/WWK Volleys Herrsching Facebook

CEV Cup: Leo Shoes Modena rested a number of its players in the first leg of its quarterfinal match against GFC Ajaccio of France on February 26. Micah Christenson still set Modena to .317 hitting percentage without Matt Anderson, Ivan Zaytsev, Max Holt, or Denis Kaliberda in a 3-0 sweep. The return leg, that was set for Wednesday, has been postponed due to the health risks of the region.

Italy: Matches were postponed throughout Italy through March 1. Itas Trentino played and defeated Globo Banca Popolare Del Frusinate Sora on March 2 with the provision that there would only be one spectator for every two square meters of space in the arena. Aaron Russell played the first set against the last-placed team in Italy and scored 10 points. He put away eight kills, hitting .375, while adding a block and an ace. Kupono Fey started the last set for Sora, passing 17 percent positive and perfect but did not attack. This match was actually rescheduled from March 22.

Russia: Fakel Novy Urengoy just barely got by Gazprom-Ugra in five sets on February 29.Erik Shoji did not play. Fakel was one more regular season match on March 6 and could be anywhere from the fourth to the sixth seed.

Poland: ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle swept GKS Katowice on February 26. Dave Smith 11 points from nine kills and two blocks while hitting .727. Dutsin Watten passed 50 percent of his receptions positively and 13 percent perfectly for GKS Katowice.

Kawika Shoji was used as a serving sub in all four sets for Asseco Resovia Rzeszów in a 3-1 defeat to Verva Warsaw on February 26. He completed five serves with no errors and no aces.

Brenden Sander celebrates during a 3-1 victory on February 28/plusliga.pl photo

Cerrad Czarni Radom defeated Ślepsk Malow Suwałki 3-1 on February 28. Brenden Sander finished the match with 16 kills, one block, and one ace in the win. He also hit .400 from the left side. Josh Tuaniga set Suwałki to a .318 average and scored from a kill.

ZAKSA needed five sets to claim a victory over Trefl Gdansk on February 29. Smith hit .500 on his way to five kills. He also contributed a block and two aces from the service line.
Jastrzębski Węgiel beat Resovia in three sets on February 29. Shoji was utilized as a serving substitute in the second and third sets. He completed two serves and had no errors. Verva Warsaw beat GKS Katowice in five sets on February 29. Watten passed 58 of his receptions positively and 18 percent were rated as perfect.

France: Price Jarman did not play for league-leading Tours in its 3-0 defeat to Toulouse on February 28.

Cannes dropped a match to Nice in five sets on February 28. Kyle Russell scored 14 points on 12 kills, one block, and one ace with a .125. Matt West scored six points on three kills, one block, one ace, and two aces. He set Cannes to a .278 hitting percentage.

Micah Ma’a set Poitiers to a .365 attack average and scored five points in a 3-2 oss to Nantes Reze on February 28. Ma’a scored on four kills and a block.

Max Chamberlain came off the bench to serve in the third set for Tourcoing on February 28 in a 3-0 defeat to Rennes.

Chaumont beat Montpellier 3-0 on February 29. Mitch Stahl scored six points in the middle on three kills, two blocks, and one ace. He hit .250 in the win.

Germany: Berlin Recycling Volleys defeated SWD powervolleys Duren in five sets on February 25. Ben Patch led Berlin with 29 points. He scored on 24 kills, three blocks, and two aces while hitting .286. Cody Kessel came off the bench in the second set and then started the next two sets. He finished with 10 points eight kills and two aces with a .375 hitting percentage. Jeff Jendryk scored three points on three kills in limited action. He started the first, second, and fifth sets while coming off of the bench in the fourth. JT Hatch was used as a serving substitute in each of the five sets. Kyle Ensing was not in the lineup for Berlin.

Helios Grizzlys Giesen defeated Heitec Volleys Eltmann in straight sets on February 26. David Wieczorek led Giesen with 19 points on 15 kills, one block, and three aces. The rookie from Pepperdine hit .714 in the win. Michael Wexter was used as a substitute in the first two sets and did not score.

Michael Michelau was used as a substitute in the first set for SVG Lüneburg in its 3-0 defeat to SWD powervolleys Duren on February 29. He completed one positive pass and attempted one serve during his time on the court. Leo Durkin started the first and third sets at setter. He set Lüneburg to a .184 hitting percentage.

WWK Volleys Herrsching defeated Volleyball Bisons Bühl in straight sets on February 29. Jalen Penrose led the match with 17 points. He put away 13 kills, two blocks, and two aces while hitting .320. Greg Petty scored 14 for Bühl on 12 kills, one block, one ace, and hit .364.

VfB Friedrichshafen handed TV Rottenburg a 3-1 defeat on February 29. Brendan Schmidt came off the bench in the third and started the fourth set for Friedrichshafen. He scored on two kills from three attempts without an error for a .667 hitting percentage. Joe Worsley came off the bench as a substitute in the fourth set. He attempted three serves with no aces and one error. Mitch Penning started for Rottenburg and scored 11 points in the middle. He hit .643 while putting away nine kills to go along with two aces. Karl Apfelbach started at opposite for Rottenburg and contributed nine points before being replaced during the second set. He seven kills, one block, one ace, and hit .158 in the defeat.

Belgium: Knack Roeselare advanced to the semifinals with a 3-1 win over Caruur Volley Gent on February 29. Joe Norman came off the bench in the second set and put away two kills on two attempts. Roeselare’s semifinal opponent has not been determined yet.

Czech Republic: Zach Melcher set Ústí nad Labem to a .120 hitting percentage in a 3-0 defeat to Praha on February 29. Melcher did not score. Ústí nad Labem at the bottom of the table with two matches left in the regular season.

Matt August and Volejbal Brno defeated Odolena Voda in three sets on March 2. August scored seven points in the middle on five kills and two blocks. He hit .333 in the win. Kevin Gear scored three points on two kills and a block for Odolena Voda. His kills came accompanied with three errors, and he finished with a -.125 hitting percentage.

Finland: Raison Loimu defeated Etta Oulu on February 25. Avery Aylsworth passed 78 percent of his receptions positively and 22 percent perfect in the 3-1 victory for Loimu. Blake Leeson scored 13 points on 12 kills, one block, and a .333 hitting percentage.

Kokkolan Tiikerit defeated Team Lakkapää in three sets on February 26. Ryan Manoogian was not in the lineup for Lakkapää.

VaLePa defeated Raison Loimu in three sets on February 26. Leeson was held to four points on the right side on four kills. He hit -.200 including eight errors. Aylsworth put forth a 44 and 28 percent passing performance.

Tommy Carmody scored 11 points for the Vantaa Ducks in a 3-1 victory over Etta Oulu on February 26. Carmody scored on six kills, four blocks, and an ace. He hit .182 in the win.

Karelian Hurmos beat Akaa-Volley in three sets on February 27. Kyle Foley got the start at setter for Hurmos and set his team to a .377 hitting percentage. He also scored on two kills and two blocks.

Savo Volley swept Akaa-Volley on February 28 with Josh Ayzenberg leading the way in serve receive. He passed 89 percent of his receptions positively and 22 percent perfect.

VaLePa continued its impressive run of form, beating Karelian Hurmos in a sweep on March 1. Kyle Foley was used as a substitute in the second set and did not score.

The Vantaa Ducks defeated Team Lakkapää in three sets on March 1. Tommy Carmody scored 13 points and hit a perfect eight for eight. He also contributed two blocks and three aces. Manoogian did not dress out for Team Lakkapää.

Slovenia: Dagostino passed 75 percent of his receptions positively and perfect in a 3-0 win over Salonit Anhovo for ACH Volley on February 29.

Spain: Unicaja Costa de Almería defeated Club Voleibol Teruel in three sets on February 29. Nick Amado scored eight points in the middle for Almería. He hit .500 and finished with five kills, two blocks, and one ace.

Ushuaïa Ibiza Voley defeated Arenal Emevé in four sets in four sets on February 29. Jordan Ewert scored eleven points on nine kills and two aces for Ibiza. The rookie outside hitter from Stanford hit .294. Matthew Knigge scored nine points in the middle on seven kills, one block, and one ace with a .071 hitting percentage.

Switzerland: Lindaren Volley Amriswil advanced to the semifinals with a 3-0 win over Traktor Basel on February 26. That win gave 3-0 win in the series. Matt Yoshimoto did not play for Amriswil.

Mitch Beal scored four points for TSV Jona Volleyball in a 3-0 defeat to Volley Schönenwerd on February 26. That loss gives Volley Schönenwerd a 3-0 advantage in matches and eliminates TSV Jona from advancing to the semifinals. Beal scored on four kills but hit -.063. Grayson Overman did not play for Jona.

Netherlands: Samen Lycurgus started the championship pool with four points due to finishing the regular season in second place. It moved to a perfect 2-0 with 10 points after beating Taurus in three sets on March 1. Mitch Perinar scored nine points on eight kills and a block for Lycurgus. Collin Mahan finished the match with six kills, two aces, and one block.

Coming Up
Itas Trentino vs. Jastrzębski Węgiel, CEV Champions League Quarterfinals, March 5 — The Polish club did not want to go to Italy. They wrote to the CEV requesting that the match be played at a neutral site outside of Italy. The CEV issued a letter stating that women’s Champions League matches in some of the northern regions will be played behind closed doors, but the match at Trentino will take place under normal conditions. Outside of these interesting circumstances, this should be a competitive match on the court. Trentino barely qualified for this round while Jastrzębski Węgiel was 5-0 and clinched a spot in the playoffs ahead of its last match of the group stage. This match is a rematch of the 2011 FIVB Club Championship final, and Jastrzębski has not beaten an Italian club since 2010. It is 2-5 all-time against Italian teams in the Champions League. Trentino is 9-4 in the Champions League against Polish teams. It lost its last two matches two Polish opposition by way of 3-2 defeats to ZAKSA in the 2017-2018 group stage.

Fakel Novy Urengoy vs. Sir Safety Perugia, CEV Champions League Quarerfinals, March 4 — Fakel rested some if its starters in its Russian Super League match against Gazprom-Surgut ahead of this match against an Italian juggernaut. Perugia still has the memory of a 3-2 defeat to Lube Civitanova in the finals of the Coppa Italia in its mind from just over a week ago. Erik Shoji is looking to handle the serve of Wilfredo Leon, who has arguably the most difficult serve to pass in all of professional volleyball. Perugia is looking to claim its second trophy since the arrival of Leon (the first being the 2019 Coppa Italia). Fakel is looking to make a run through the Russian Playoffs in order to try and get back to Europe’s most prestigious club competition.

Allianz Milano vs. Kioene Padova, Italy, March 8 — This match does not have any American players participating, but Milan is located squarely in Italy’s “red zone,” where the coronavirus is believed to be the most contagious at this juncture.

The match will be played behind closed doors, the only match in the Italian SuperLega to face that stipulation.

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