International men: Kessel sparkles for SVG Lüneburg, playoff brackets set

Aaron Russell continues to show why he was the FIVB World Club Championship MVP/ photo

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 Champions League, Russia, Brazil, Italy, Poland, Germany, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, Switzerland, and Norway. Playoff matchups are underway in Finland, Belgium, and Norway. The bracket in Brazil is now set, and many leagues are just finishing up regular seasons. I included updated brackets for those leagues already underway with the postseason.

Germany: Cody Kessel recorded 23 points for SVG Lüneburg in a five-set win over WWK Volleys Herrsching. Kessel hit .405 on his way to 18 kills with five blocks as well. Nick West led Herrsching with 13 points on nine kills, three blocks, and one ace. He was replaced by Griffin Shields for the fifth set after hitting minus .029. While only starting in one set, Shields posted nine kills and two blocks with a .500 hitting percentage.

Hypo Tirol AlpenVolleys Unterhaching recovered from last-week’s loss to claim a win against SWD powervolleys Duren, but it needed five sets to do so. Matt Pollock earned five kills and three blocks in the middle while hitting .400. Daniel Ford was used as a substitute in the second, fourth, and fifth sets for Duren without scoring.

Berlin Recycling Volleys pulled off another sweep, this time against TV Rottenburg. Ben Patch led Berlin with 11 points on nine kills, one block, and one ace. He was replaced late in the second set while hitting .278. Jeff Jendryk scored seven in the middle on five kills, one block, one ace, and a .400 attack average. Kyle Russell and Dustin Watten were not used by Berlin. Mitch Penning finished with seven kills for Rottenburg while hitting .500.

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.

It took WWK Volleyball Bisons Bühl four sets to beat Helios Grizzlys Giesen on Saturday. Started the first three sets and came off the bench in the fourth. Unfortunately the stats were not completely published. Oliver Martin started the fourth set for Bühl in the victory.

Tanner Syftestad did not play for United Volleys Frankfurt in its 3-0 victory over VCO Berlin.

Champions League: Brenden Sander did not dress out for Lube Civitanova in its five-set victory over Dynamo Moscow in the first leg of the quarterfinal. After winning the first set in a convincing fashion (25-10), Dynamo stormed back to take a 2-1 lead. Tsvetan Sokolov led the way with 23 points in a week that has seen him linked with a move to Zenit Kazan over the summer. Osmany Juantorena chipped in 22 points in the win. Lube has to win in any amount of sets on March 21 to advance. If it loses in five sets, the series will be decided by a golden set to 15 points. If Dynamo Moscow wins in three or four sets, it will advance to the semifinals.

Zenit Kazan had to stave off an upset of its own on Wednesday, trailing by four points in the fifth set before claiming the victory over Trefl Gdansk on the road in Poland. Matt Anderson scored 19 points on 14 kills, one block, and a match-high four aces. Anderson hit .571 and led his team with 30 percent of his receptions being rated as perfect. A Kazan victory next week will see the defending champions through to the semifinals. A loss in five will lead to a golden set. A loss in three our sets will knock the Russian team out of the tournament.

Chaumont VB 52 almost pulled off an upset of its own over Sir Safety Perugia but let a lead late in the fifth set slip away. Michael Saeta set Chaumont to a .351 hitting percentage in the first two sets before he was replaced. He came off the bench in the fourth and fifth sets. Perugia was unsteady in reception but was able to hold Taylor Averill to two points per set. The middle blocker from Chaumont finished with 10 points on seven kills and three blocks. Averill hit .636 without committing an attack error. Jonah Seif was used as a substitute for Perugia in the first three sets and scored a point from a block. Perugia needs a win in any amount of sets next week to reach the semifinals. A Chaumont victory in three or four sets will lead it to the next rounds. If Chaumont wins in five sets the series will be decided in a golden set.

Russia: Fakel Novy Urengoy had a great opportunity to move into third place this week but dropped a five-set match to Yugra-Samoltor, the team in 13th position on the table. Egor Kliuka scored 22 points, but also committed six passing errors. Fakel’s other outside hitter, Arthur Udris, added four more errors in reception. Erik Shoji passed 30 percent of his receptions perfectly without committing an error. With one match left, Fakel is guaranteed the fourth seed in the playoffs.

Matt Anderson, Maxim Mikhailov and the rest of Zenit Kazan’s starting lineup were given a rest in its 3-2 win over Yenisei Krasnoyark.

Brazil: Sada Cruzeiro had to make up a match against third-placed EMS Funvic Taubate due to its participation in the CSV South American Club Championships two weeks ago. Taylor Sander scored seven points on six kills and a block in a 3-1 win. Sadner hit .222 and did not start in the fourth set. That win put Sada in first place over SESI-SP going into the last match of the regular season.

That position at the top of the table was short-lived as SESI-SP swept Sada Cruzeiro on Saturday. Sander paced Sada with a team-high 15 points on 13 kills, a block, an ace, and a .545 hitting percentage. Sada Cruzeiro will face Copel Telecom Maringa Volei in the quarterfinals. That series starts Sunday.

Volei Um Itapetininga lost its last match of the regular season in the form of a 3-0 defeat to Volei Renata. Price Jarman played the whole match in the middle and scored five points on five kills. He took seven swings without committing an error to post a .714 hitting percentage.

Italy: Itas Trentino earned another sweep, this time over Azimut Leo Shoes Modena. Aaron Russell finished the match with 14 points on 11 kills and three aces while hitting .409. Uros Kovacevic led the match with 15 points on 13 kills and two blocks with a .400 attack average. Micah Christenson saw some limited action for Modena. He took part in part of the team training session on Friday, and completed a full workout on Saturday. He was used as a substitute in each of the three sets. Max Holt played the whole match but only scored one point from a block. He registered no kills in six attempts and hit -.167. Kevin Tillie started the third set and scored two points from two kills while hitting -.222. Trentino stays in second place, three points behind Perugia. Modena is now level with Revivre Axopower Milan on 47 points, but have one more win.

Jonah Seif was used as a substitute in the second and fourth sets for Sir Safety Perugia in a 3-1 win over Globo Banca Popolare del Frusinate Sora. Perugia was again led by Wilfredo Leon and his 21 points. Kupono Fey scored 10 points for Sora from nine kills and a block. The outside hitter from Hawaii hit .400 in the defeat to Italy’s top team.

Brenden Sander dressed out but did not play for Lube Civitanova, who swept BCC Castellana Grotte on Sunday. Tsvetan Sokolov posted 19 points, while Yoandy Leal and Jiri Kovar scored 11 and 10 respectively. Osmany Juantorena was given the night off. Lube remains in third place, just one point behind Trentino going into the last match of the regular season.

Poland: Asseco Resovia Rzeszów was swept by Cuprum Lubin on Friday in a match that saw the both of the middle blockers finish as the leading scorers. In addition to Bartłomiej Lemański’s 12 points, Dave Smith added 11. Smith scored on six kills with a .545 hitting percentage, one ace, and a match-high four blocks. Kawika Shoji set Resovia to a .200 attack average and contributed three points from the service line.

MKS Będzin remains at the bottom of the standings after a 3-1 loss to Chemik Bydgoszcz on Friday. Jake Langlois scored 12 points at outside hitter and passed steady with 60 percent positive receptions. He hit .182 while earning 11 kills and a block.

ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle beat GKS Katowice in four sets on Saturday. James Shaw was used as a substitute in all three sets but did not score any points.

France: Neither Mitch Stahl nor Dan McDonnell were used by their respective teams in Tours’s 3-0 win over Tourcoing this past weekend. Chaumont had a bye, meaning that no American players saw action in the French Ligue A last week.

Belgium: The top four in the Belgian Euro Millions Volley League take part in a double round-robin group to determine the last two teams playing for the championship. Sam Holt scored 10 points in Knack Roeselare’s first match, a 3-1 defeat to Lindemans Aalst. Holt put away seven kills (.286) to go with a block and two aces.

Czech Republic: The first round of the playoffs took place last week in the Czech Republic for the teams finishing 7-10 in the standings. The winners of these best-of-three series earned a place in the quarterfinals. AERO Odolena Voda defeated VK Lvi Praha in three matches. Kevin Gear (five points) and Matthew Walsh (five points) were swept by Praha on on Tuesday. They came back to win in three sets on Thursday with Gear scoring on seven kills and an ace while Walsh put away four kills to go with an ace. Odolena Voda clinched a place in the quarterfinals with a 3-1 win on Saturday. Gear put away four kills, one block, and two aces, while Walsh added eight (two kills, three blocks, three aces). The club will start its quarterfinal match against Dukla Liberec on Tuesday.

Finland: Hurrikaani Loimaa split the first two matches of its best-of-seven quarterfinal series against Etta Oulu this past weekend. Matt West set Hurrikaani to a .370 hitting percentage in a 3-2 win on Saturday. West also scored on a kill and a block. Etta Oulu bounced back on Sunday to win 3-1. West set his team to just a .195 attack average and scored four points of his own in the defeat.

VaLePa played just one match this weekend and earned a sweep against Savo Volley. Arvis Greene did not play.

Switzerland: The Nationalliga A quarterfinals started on Saturday with each time playing twice. Biogas Volley Näfels dropped a pair of 3-0 decisions to Lausanne UC. Lucas Yoder did not play in either of the matches for Näfels.

Scott Fifer set TV Schönenwerd to a pair of 3-0 victories over Volley Uni Bern Elite on Saturday and Sunday. Fifer set Schönenwerd to a .367 hitting percentage as a team on Saturday. He returned on Sunday and ran the Schönenwerd offense to a .429 hitting percentage. He also scored three points from aces in Sunday’s win.

Norway: Ryan Manoogian was not featured in TIF Viking’s 3-2 quarterfinal win over Førde Volleyballklubb on Saturday. The two teams play Saturday.

Looking Ahead
Brazil: Volei Um Itapetininga vs. SESI-SP, March 23 — This is Itapetininga’s first playoff match in the club’s history. In just its first year in the Superliga, qualifying for the quarterfinals was a huge accomplishment. It will have stiff competition in SESI-SP. William Arjona has a lot of weapons at his disposal with Alan Souza, Lucah Loh, Gustavo Bonatto, and Eder Carbonera. Murilo has made the move to libero quite well, and the team is coming off of a huge sweep of then first-place Sada Cruzeiro.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here