International men: Taylor Sander’s success continues, good week for Shoji, Smith

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Ben Patch-Pro mens notebook 3/14/2019
Ben Patch and Sergey Grankin continue to be a formidable duo at Berlin:Tagesspigiel Sport Twitter account

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

This edition of the notebook includes recaps of Americans competing in Russia, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Germany, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Switzerland, and Greece. Playoffs started in Belgium and Norway, and no Americans are taking part in the early rounds yet. Finland is in the midst of its playoffs with the quarterfinal round concluding and the semifinal matchups set. In addition to the wide array of league matches, three Americans took part in the finals of the French Cup.

Russia: Zenit Kazan prevailed in four sets in a matchup between the two finalists in last year’s Russian Super League playoffs. Matt Anderson scored 13 points from 12 kills and an ace with just a .179 hitting percentage due to seven attack errors. Maxim Mikhailov put up an impressive 18 points, Earvin N’Gapeth led the match with 19. Gyorgy Grozer also scored 19 for Zenit St. Petersburg, who remains in third place with just two matches left in the regular season.

Fakel Novy Urengoy remained in fourth place after earning a maximum three points against Gazprom Yugra. Erik Shoji finished with 60 percent of his receptions being positive and 20 percent rated as perfect. Egor Kliuka and Denis Bogdan both finished with 16 points for Fakel.

Brazil: Taylor Sander scored 14 points in his first match since being named the most valuable player at the CSV South American Club Championships last week. His team, Sada Cruzeiro, beat SESC-RJ in a 3-1 decision. Sander scored on eight kills, two blocks, and a match-high four aces. He hit .174 in the win. Sada Cruzeiro fell to second place, two points behind SESI-SP, but it still needs to make up a Superliga match against EMS Funvic Taubate on March 13. A win in that match will put Sada in first place by one point ahead of its match against SESI-SP on Saturday in the last round of the regular season.

Volei Um Itapetininga suffered a sweep at the hands of SESI-SP last weekend. Price Jarman was held to four points on four kills with a .333 hitting percentage in the defeat.

Italy: Azimut Leo Shoes Modena fell even further back from the top three places, despite winning its match against Emma Villas Siena. Since the match went to five sets, Modena only earned two points for the win. Luckily Revivre Axopower Milano lost to Lube Civitanova, leaving Modena in fourth place. It took 30 points from Ivan Zaytsev to pull out the victory. Zaytsev scored on 19 kills, two aces, and an astonishing nine aces in the win. Max Holt only put away two kills in the middle, but finished with 10 points due to five blocks and three aces. Micah Christenson is still not back on the court, but Kevin Tillie made his Italian debut for Modena. He came off the bench in the fourth and fifth sets, scoring two points on two kills.

Itas Trentino earned another sweep, this time over Consar Ravenna. Aaron Russell finished the match with 13 points on 11 kills and two aces while hitting .304. Uros Kovacevic led the match with 16 points on 14 kills, one block, and one ace for Trentino, who are in second place with just two matches left in the regular season.

Jonah Seif was used as a substitute in the second set for Sir Safety Perugia in a sweep over Kioene Padova. Perugia was again led by Wilfredo Leon and his 21 points. Arguably the best player in the world, Leon contributed 14 kills, one block, and six aces in the win.

Brenden Sander did not dress out for Lube Civitanova, who held off a dangerous Revivre Axopower Milano team in four sets. Tsvetan Sokolov led the way with 17 points on 12 kills, one block, and four aces. Robertlandy Simon contributed 14 in the middle on eight kills, three blocks, and three points from the service line.

Kupono Fey scored eight points for Globo Banca Popolare del Frusinate Sora in a 3-2 defeat to Top Volley Latina. They point earned by going five sets was crucial for a Sora club that is looking to avoid relegation. Fey scored on seven kills and a block with a .429 attack average. Fey led his team with 70 percent of his receptions rated as positive and 35 percent being perfect.

Poland: With two matches to go in the regular season, it is very unlikely that Asseco Resovia Rzeszów will earn a spot in the playoffs. It is in eighth position but just five points behind sixth-placed Aluron Virtu Warta Zawiercie. Resovia would need to win its next two matches while Zawiercie and GKS Katowice would need to lose the last two.

Despite its window to compete for the PlusLiga championship closing, Resovia won its sixth match in its last seven tries with a four-set defeat of Chemik Bydgoszcz. Shoji set Resovia to a .457 hitting percentage while scoring three points from a block and two aces. Dave Smith contributed 15 points in the middle on eight kills and seven blocks with a .583 attack average.

Kawika Shoji has Resovia playing its best volleyball of the season/plusliga.pl photo

ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle bounced back from a loss to Trefl Gdansk on Tuesday to beat Cerrad Czarni Radom with a 3-1 decision. James Shaw was used as a substitute in every set and scored a point from a block. He did not register any kills in two attack attempts.

Germany: WWK Volleys Herrsching did not play the previous week but was in action twice last week. Griffin Shields led Herrsching with 13 points in a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Netzhoppers Solwo Königspark KW on Thursday. Shields scored on nine kills, two blocks, two aces and hit .412. Nick West was used as a substitute in the first, third, and fourth sets but did not score any points.

Herrsching came back on Saturday with a sweep of VCO Berlin. Nick West got the start at opposite and led his team with 17 points on 13 kills, two blocks, two aces, and a .550 attack average. Shields played as a substitute in the second set, finishing with a kill on one attempt.

Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching dropped to second place after losing in five sets to United Volleys Frankfurt on Saturday. Matt Pollock started the first four sets in the middle for Unterhaching and scored six points. He hit .300 while earning four kills to go with a block and an ace. Tanner Syftestad came off the bench for Frankfurt and started the last two sets. He finished with eight kills and a block while hitting .583 from the right side.

Berlin Recycling Volleys created three points of separation from SVG Lüneburg for third place after a 3-1 win on Saturday. Ben Patch added another 29 points to his 167 on the season. That number would not put him near the top of the scoring list in the German Bundesliga, but that mainly comes from his lack of playing team earlier in the season. His 4.2 points per set is sixth-best in the league. His points came on 22 kills, three blocks, and an ace while hitting .333. Jeff Jendryk led the match with five aces on his way to 13 points. He added five kills and three blocks to his point total. Kyle Russell was used as a substitute in the first and fourth sets without scoring. Dustin Watten was not used by Berlin. Cody Kessel only played the first two sets for Lüneburg, putting away two kills and a block but hitting .000.

Mitch Penning scored 18 points in the middle, but it was not enough. TV Rottenburg fell in four sets to Helios Grizzlys Giesen on Saturday. Penning scored on 15 kills and three aces. He did not commit an attack error and hit .789 in 19 attempts. Antwain Aguillard did not feature in the match for Giesen.

Daniel Ford was not used by SWD powervolleys Duren in a 3-2 win over WWK Volleyball Bisons Bühl. Jake Arnitz scored 24 on 21 kills, two blocks and an ace. The outside hitter from UCLA hit .645 and led the team with 38 percent positive receptions. .

Tours VB celebrating after winning the French Cup for the 10th time/ffvb.org photo

France: While Ligue A was on a hiatus last weekend, the French Cup concluded with the semifinals and finals. Mitch Stahl and Tours claimed its 10th French Cup in club history after a 3-0 sweep over Michael Saeta, Taylor Averill and Chaumont. Tours was able to stop Taylor Averill, holding him to just one point on one kill with a .000 attack average in two sets of action. Michael Saeta was only able to set Chaumont to a .228 hitting percentage. Stahl was not used by Tours in the victory.

Czech Republic: Once again Matt Walsh and Kevin Gear started at middle blocker for AERO Odolena Voda in a 3-0 sweep of SKV Ústí nad Labem on Saturday. Gear scored 8 points on five kills, one block, and two aces with an .833 attack average on the night. He also did not commit an error in attack. Walsh finished with six points on five kills and a block while hitting .500.

Mitch Beal came off the bench in the fourth set and started the fifth for VK Ostrava, who defeated VK Lvi Praha on Saturday. He finished with four points on four kills and hit .429.

Finland: Matt West and Hurrikaani Loimaa swept through the quarterfinals of the playoffs, beating Team Lakkapää in three straight matches to take take the series. Hurrikaani only dropped one set in three matches last week. West scored a total of 10 points while setting his team .387, .333, and .438 hitting percentages in the quarterfinal series.

VaLePa dropped its first match of its quarterfinal series to Kokkolan Tiikerit in four sets, but it came back to win the next three matches and advance to the semifinals. Tiikerit did not make it easy for VaLePa, taking the second and fourth matches to five sets. Greene scored three points as a substitute in the third set of the opening match on two kills and an ace with a .000 attack average. That was the only action he saw for VaLePa in the series.

Switzerland: Last week was busy in the Nationalliga A as many teams played twice. On Friday Biogas Volley Näfels dropped a 3-2 decision to Volley Uni Bern Elite. Näfels dropped a match by way of a sweep to first-place Lindaren Volley Amriswil on Sunday. Lucas Yoder was not in the squad for either of the matches. Näfels will start the playoffs on Saturday against Lausanne UC.

Scott Fifer set TV Schönenwerd to a 3-1 victory over TSV Jona Volleyball on Saturday. Fifer set Schönenwerd to a .500 hitting percentage as a team. He also put away two kills and scored on a block. Fifer followed it up on Sunday by running the Schönenwerd offense to a .395 hitting percentage in the first two sets of a 3-0 win over Volley Lucerne. The entire starting lineup was given a rest after the second set. Fifer and Schönenwerd will begin the playoffs on Saturday against Volley Uni Bern Elite.

Greece: Garrett Muagututia scored 10 points for PAOK Thessaloniki in a sweep of AOP Kifisias on Saturday. His points came by way of six kills, two blocks, two aces, and he hit .333 in the win.

Looking Ahead
Champions League: Sir safety Perugia vs. Chaumont VB 52, March 14 — On paper this should not be a very tightly contested match. Perugia has been firing on all cylinders lately. It has only lost one match in 2019 to Trentino, the FIVB World Club Champions and currently second place in the Italian SuperLega. Chaumont just suffered a defeat in the finals of the French Cup, and it sits in fifth place of the French Ligue A. What makes this match noteworthy is the fact it contains three of the five Americans still in the Champions League at this point. Michael Saeta and Taylor Averill are expected to start for Chaumont while Jonah Seif will more than like be used in a reserve role for Perugia. Will Chaumont continue its excellent form in the competition despite its domestic struggles?

Germany: Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching vs. SWD powervolleys Duren, March 16 — Unterhaching was in first place at the beginning of the month. It now finds itself in second position after dropping two of its last three matches. Duren is in fifth place and fighting for the chance to get the hosting advantage in the quarterfinals of the playoffs. A win against Unterhaching will put Berlin as the second seed of the playoffs.

Finland: Hurrikaani Loimaa vs. Etta Oulu, March 16-17 — The first two matches of this semifinal series should not be tightly contested. Hurrikaani won eight more matches in the regular season than Etta and absolutely walked through the quarterfinal series. This is a series to watch due to the play of Matt West. He was rated as the second-best setter in the regular season and set lights-out through the first round, running the most efficient offense in the Finnish playoff at the moment.

Titles Won by Americans
The following is a list of titles and individual competition awards won by American players with their foreign clubs. This list includes domestic cups, continental cups, the world championships and domestic leagues. This list does not include super cup competitions except for Italy since that is the only super cup which takes more than one match to win. This list will continue to grow as more cup competitions and seasons conclude.

Matt Anderson, Zenit Kazan, Russian Cup
Micah Christenson, Modena, Italian SuperCoppa (MVP)
Arvis Greene, VaLePa, Finnish Suomen Cup
Max Holt, Modena, Italian SuperCoppa
Sam Holt, Knack Roeselare, Belgian Cup
Michael Michelau, Falkenberg VBK, Swedish Cup
Aaron Russell, Trentino, FIVB Club World Championship (MVP)
Taylor Sander, Sada Cruzeiro, Copa Brasil, South American Club Championship (MVP)
Jonah Seif, Perugia, Coppa Italia
Mitch Stahl, Tours VB, French Cup

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