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
This edition includes recaps of Americans competing in the South American Club Championships, the CEV Champions League, the CEV Cup, Russia, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Germany, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Switzerland, Greece and Norway.
Playoffs started in Belgium and Norway with no Americans taking part in the early rounds. The Champions League quarterfinal matchups are set, and a former Cougar brought home some prestigious awards this past week.
South American Club Championship: Taylor Sander was the most valuable player in Brazil as Sada Cruzeiro won its seventh title at the CSV South American Club Championships. Sada Cruzeiro went 4-0 and defeated UPCN San Juan of Argentina in the final. This win automatically qualifies Sada Cruzeiro for the 2019 FIVB Club World Championships.
CEV Champions League Pool A: Matt Anderson scored 16 points as an opposite for Zenit Kazan in a 3-1 victory over Halkbank Ankara. Anderson led the match with three aces in addition to 11 kills and two blocks. He hit .160 on the night. That closed out a 6-0 record for Zenit, who finished with a perfect 18 points. Halkbank Ankara finished the pool in second place, but failed to qualify with only eight points.
Sam Holt did not get any playing time for Knack Roeselare in a four-set victory over United Volleys Frankfurt. Tanner Syftestad was used as a substitute in the second set and started the final two sets in the loss. He finished with nine kills and hit .333. Neither Frankfurt or Roeselare qualified for the playoffs.
CEV Champions League Pool B: Qualification was looking very likely for ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle. It was up 24-21 in the third set of a match where it held a two sets to zero advantage against Lube Civitanova. A win and three points would see ZAKSA through to the quarterfinals. Lube stormed back to take the third set (34-32), then took the next two sets to claim the victory. Tsvetan Sokolov and Robertlandy Simon both finished with 23 points. Simon recorded all of Lube’s eight blocks. Lube finished on top of the pool at 6-0 with 17 points. ZAKSA finished second, but its 10 points were not enough to qualify for the playoffs.
Azimut Leo Shoes Modena made quick work of CEZ Karlovarsko in its last match of the tournament. Jalen Penrose was the only American player in action and scored 12 points for Karlovarsko. Those points came on 11 kills and an ace with a .281 attack average. Modena finished the pool in third place and Karlovarsko was winless in the competition.
CEV Champions League Pool C: One of the most remarkable stories of the tournament has been Chaumont VB 52. After going through three qualification rounds, it found itself in second place and qualifying for the quarterfinals. After it defeated ACH Volley Ljubljana, Chaumont posted a 4-2 record with 13 points. Taylor Averill finished with 17 points on 10 kills, six blocks, one ace and a .500 hitting percentage. Michael Saeta set Chaumont to a .333 attack average in the sets in which he played. He was substituted after the second set when qualification had been secured.
“We could not be happier to qualify for the quarterfinal in Chaumont,” Saeta said. “This is a great opportunity to show the world the power of the French league, and the strength of this club. All you can ask for is the chance to play against the best in the world, and now we have that ability as a team. We want to win, and we will fight to make it to the semifinals.”
Zenit St. Petersburg finished the pool in first place after beating VfB Friedrichshafen. The Russian club posted a 6-0 record with 15 points. VfB Friedrichshafen was in third place with six points after winning two matches, and ACH Volley Ljubljana went 0-6.
CEV Champions League Pool D: 16 points from Ben Patch and 10 from Kyle Russell was not enough for the Berlin Recycling Volleys, who lost to to PGE Skra Belchatow in straight sets. Patch started at opposite and scored on 13 kills, two blocks, and two aces. Russell was used as a substitute in each set and produced three kills, four blocks, and three aces. Jeff Jendryk finished with four kills. Dustin Watten didn’t play for Berlin in its last match of the competition. Berlin finished in fourth place with a 2-4 record and five points.
Trefl Gdansk beat Greenyard Maaseik to claim first place in the pool with a 5-1 record and 15 points. Skra qualified for the playoffs at 4-2 with 11 points. Maaseik finishes the tournament in third place at 2-4 with six points.
CEV Champions League Pool E: Sir Safety Perugia secured its place at the top of the pool with a 3-1 win over Arkas Izmir. Jonah Seif started the final two sets and ran the offense to an impressive .525 hitting percentage. Perugia finished with a 6-0 record and earned a perfect 18 points. The Italian club qualified for the playoffs while Arkas Izmir finished 0-6 with one point and exited the tournament.
Dynamo Moscow qualified out of the pool with a 4-2 record and 12 points. Dynamo defeated Tours VB last week to secure its spot in the quarterfinals. Mitch Stahl started in the middle for Tours and scored 10 points on seven kills, two blocks, and one ace. Tours finished the pool in third place at 2-4 with five points.
CEV Draw: The remaining teams were drawn into the quarterfinal matchups on March 1. The quarterfinals utilize a home and home format. Three points are earned for a win in three or four sets. Two sets are earned if a team wins in five sets, and one point is given to a team that loses in five sets. If the two teams are level after the two matches, a golden set to 15 is played to determine which club reaches the semifinals.
March 12 — Lube Civitanova at Dynamo Moscow
March 13 — Zenit Kazan at Trefl Gdansk
March 14 — Sir Safety Perugia at Chaumont VB 52
March 14 — Zenit St. Petersburg at PGE Skra Belchatow
CEV CUP: Aaron Russell and Itas Trentino qualified for the finals of Europe’s second-most prestigious competition by winning a pair of matches over Olympiacos of Greece. Last Tuesday Russell finished with 12 points on 12 kills with a .733 hitting percentage from the left side in a sweep. On Tuesday, March 5 he played in only the first two sets and scored 13 points. His point production came on 11 kills, one ace, one block, and he hit .786 without an attack error. Trentino will face Galatassaray Istanbul, who upset Kuzbass Kemerovo in a golden set to advance to the finals.
Russia: After playing opposite earlier in the week, Anderson was back on the left side last weekend for Zenit Kazan in a 3-1 win over Gazprom Ugra. Anderson scored 18 points on 10 kills, four blocks and four aces with a .200 hitting percentage. Maxim Mikhailov led all players with 23 points on 18 kills, two blocks and three points from the service line. Kazan remains in first place in the Russian Super League.
Fakel Novy Urengoy remained in fourth place after earning a maximum three points against fifth-place Belogorie Belgorod in four sets on Sunday. Erik Shoji finished with 39 percent of his receptions being positive and six percent rated as perfect.
Brazil: The Brazilian Superliga played a round of matches Thursday since Carnival of Brazil started on March 1. Volei Um Itapetininga pulled of a win against Corinthians-Guarulhos on Thursday. Price Jarman scored nine points on nine kills with a .643 attack average.
Sada Cruzeiro will play its scheduled match against EMS Taubate Funvic on March 13 it was playing in the South American Club Championships last week.
Italy: While Revivre Axopower Milano lost on Sunday, Azimut Leo Shoes Modena could not create any separation in the standings. Modena, still without Micah Christenson, lost to Vero Volley Monza in four sets. Max Holt finished with seven points on four kills and three blocks while hitting .333. Ivan Zaytsev hit only .182 on his way to 10 kills. Modena has signed Kevin Tillie as a reinforcement for the playoffs. Tillie, a former All-American from UC Irvine, finished his season in China with Beijing. He arrived at home in France on Monday, and will be in Modena by Wednesday.
Itas Trentino kept Modena in fourth place by defeating Milan in four sets on Sunday. Aaron Russell led the match with 19 points coming from 17 kills, one block and one service ace. Russell hit .350 on the night while Luca Vettori hit .407 on his way to 15 kills. Trentino remains in second, three points behind Sir Safety Perugia.
Perugia continues its roll through the Italian SuperLega and CEV Champions League schedule. It defeated Consar Ravenna on Sunday behind 20 points from Wilfredo Leon. Jonah Seif did not play for Perugia in the win.
Brenden Sander was used as a substitute in the third set of Lube Civitanova’s sweep of Top Volley Latina on Sunday. Sander completed one attack attempt, but did not register a kill. Yoandy Leal led the way with 15 points for Lube, including four aces.
Kupono Fey scored nine points for Globo Banca Popolare del Frusinate Sora in a 3-1 win over Tonno Callipo Calabria del Frusinate Sora. His points came on seven kills and two aces with a .357 hitting percentage. Fey passed 47 percent of his receptions positively and 29 percent perfectly.
Poland: Asseco Resovia Rzeszów claimed its fifth victory from its last six matches with an emphatic sweep of Jastrzębski Węgiel on Saturday. Kawika Shoji set Resovia to a .341 hitting percentage while scoring six points from three kills, two blocks and one ace. Dave Smith contributed eight points in the middle on four kills and four blocks with a .500 attack average. Jakub Jarosz led Resovia with 10 kills, three aces and one block.
MKS Będzin suffered another loss but earned a point when it took GKS Katowice to five sets on Friday. Jake Langlois, now back at outside hitter, scored 16 points on 13 kills, two blocks and one ace while hitting .257 in the defeat.
James Shaw played as a substitute for ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle in the first set of its four-set win over Aluron Virtu Warta Zawiercie on Sunday. Shaw did not score.
Germany: Mitch Penning put up an impressive twenty points in the middle for TV Rottenburg in a 3-2 victory over Volleyball Bisons Bühl. Penning’s points came on 13 kills, four blocks and three aces. He did not commit an attack error and hit .619. Jake Arnitz did not play for Bühl.
Ben Patch continued his impressive form at opposite for the Berlin Recycling Volleys in its 3-0 sweep over Netzhoppers Solwo Königspark KW. Patch led the match with 19 points on 18 kills and an ace while posting a .467 attack average. Jeff Jendryk finished the match with 10 points in the middle on nine kills and an ace. Jendryk hit .692 without committing an error in attack. Kyle Russell was used as a substitute in the third set and did not register any points. Dustin Watten was played for Berlin in the second set but did not receive any serves.
After suffering a defeat to Berlin last week, Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching made a statement that it belongs at the top of the standings with a 3-2 victory over VfB Friedrichshafen. Matt Pollock scored nine points in the middle from seven kills and two blocks. Pollock hit .583 with no errors.
Daniel Ford was not used by SWD powervolleys Duren in a 3-0 win over United Volleys Frankfurt. Tanner Syftestad came off the bench in the first two sets for Frankfurt and contributed two kills on two attempts.
Antwain Aguillard did not feature for Helios Grizzlys Giesen in its sweep of VCO Berlin on Friday. He was also not in the lineup for Giesen when it played SVG Lüneburg on Sunday. Cody Kessel scored 12 points for Lüneburg on 11 kills and a block. He had an uncharacteristically rough night in attack, hitting -.115 and getting blocked 11 times.
France: After the Champions League triumph earlier in the week, Chaumont moved back into fifth place of Ligue A with a sweep of Toulouse. Taylor Averill was not in the lineup, but Michael Saeta set his team to a .557 hitting percentage on the night. Saeta also contributed two aces and a kill in the win.
Mitch Stahl did not see the court for first-place Tours in a 3-1 win over Rennes.
Dan McDonnell scored five points for Tourcoing in a 3-1 four-set victory against Sete. His points came on two kills, two blocks, and a service ace. He hit .333 without committing an attack error.
Czech Republic: Both Matt Walsh and Kevin Gear started at middle blocker for AERO Odolena Voda in a 3-2 win over VK Dukla Liberec on Sunday. Gear scored six points on four kills, one block, and an ace with an .071 hitting percentage. Walsh finished with nine points from four kills, four blocks and an ace while hitting .167.
Jalen Penrose was used as a substitute in the first two sets and started the last two sets for CEZ Karlovarsko in its 3-1 defeat at the hands of VK Ostrava. Penrose chipped in seven kills and a block while hitting .217. Mitch Beal did not see the floor for Ostrava.
Finland: Matt West and Hurrikaani Loimaa finished out the regular season in first place after a pair of wins last week. West set Hurrikaani to a .311 hitting percentage in a 3-1 win over Akaa Volley last Wednesday. He followed it up on Thursday with another four-set win, this time over Kookkolan Tiikerit. West set Hurrikaani to a .400 attack average that match.
Arvis Greene did not play for VaLePa in a 3-2 defeat to Savo Volley on Friday. He was in the starting lineup on Saturday against the Vantaa Ducks. Greene scored 22 points on 15 kills, four blocks, and three aces in the sweep. He also posted a .591 hitting percentage. VaLePa will be the second seed in the playoffs.
Switzerland: Scott Fifer set TV Schönenwerd to a 3-0 victory over first-place Volley Amriswil on Saturday with an impressive .431 hitting percentage. He also put away two kills and scored on two blocks. Schönenwerd is currently in second place.
Lucas Yoder was not on the squad for Biogas Volley Näfels in a 3-1 loss to Chênois Genève Volleyball on Saturday. Näfels is currently in sixth place out of eight teams.
Greece: Garrett Muagututia was one of three players who finished with 12 points for PAOK Thessaloniki in a sweep of MGS Ethnikos Alexandruopolis. Muagututia contributed 10 kills and two aces while hitting .600 from the left side.
Taylor Averill voted Player of the Month: The middle blocker for Chaumont VB 52 was voted by fans as the club’s most valuable player for the month of February. He was awarded the trophy, presented by McDonald’s, before the match against Toulouse.
Players from Berlin visit charity: Kyle Russell, Dustin Watten and Jeff Jendryk were among a few players from the Berlin Recycling Volleys to volunteer at the Banhofsmission on Monday. This charity provides food, shelter and medical care for those in need.
— BR Volleys (@BRVolleys) March 4, 2019
Russia: Zenit Kazan vs. Zenit St. Petersburg, March 9 – This rematch of the Russian Cup final is also a rematch of last year’s playoff championship series. St. Petersburg is sitting in third place at the moment and has won twelve of its thirteen matches in 2019. Gyorgy Grozer and Oreol Camejo are the best foreign tandem in the entire league. Zenit Kazan has only lost one match all year (to Fakel on February 10). The matchup at opposite between Grozer and Maxim Mikhailov of Zenit Kazan does not get any better in Russian volleyball. Both of these teams are in the quarterfinals of the Champions League and could face each other in the final due to the results of the draw.
Germany: Berlin Recycling Volleys vs. SVG Lüneburg, March 9 – Both of these teams are sitting at 43 points, though Berlin has one more win at this point in the season. The winner of this match will place third in the standings. The arrival of Sergey Grankin has done wonders for Berlin. Lüneburg will need Cody Kessel to put down a lot of kills with a high hitting percentage in order to be successful.
Italy: Revivre Axopower Milano vs. Lube Civitanova, March 10 – Lube has been on a tear lately and Milan needs to get a win over one of the teams at the top of the table if it wants to usurp Modena as the fourth-placed team heading into the playoffs. Milan had a chance to make a statement last week against Trentino and jump over Modena, but it was not able to capitalize.