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, Italy, Poland, Russia, Germany, France, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, and Switzerland. No American players took the court in Brazil this week, since Taylor Sander’s team is traveling to the Club World Championships and Price Jarman’s team had its match postponed due to heavy rains.

We also track interesting matches this upcoming week from the FIVB Club World Championships taking place in Poland.

Champions League: The group stage of the Champions League commenced this past week with all of the teams remaining in the tournament in action. Refer back to last week’s preview for get up to speed on the competition up to this point. With only 20 teams taking part in pool play (down from 28), the groups are quite competitive.

Taylor Averill was the second-leading scorer for Chaumont VB 52 in its 3-2 defeat on the road at Zenit St. Petersburg. Though it lost, Chaumont picked up a valuable point by going five sets. Averill scored from six kills, a match-high four aces, and a match-high six blocks. The middle blocker from the University of Hawai’i hit .556 with only one attack error. Michael Saeta started the third and fourth sets for Chaumont and set the team to a .333 hitting percentage. Saeta also scored five points on two kills, two aces, and a block. He connected with Averill on an overpass in which he faked the attack before feeding the middle blocker on a quick-tempo set. That play is included below. Gyorgy Grozer led Zenit St. Petersburg with 27 points from 24 kills and three aces.

Zenit Kazan made quick work of United Volleys Frankfurt in a 3-0 sweep at home. Matt Anderson scored five points on four kills and an ace while just playing in the first two sets. Tanner Syftestad was used as a substitute in the second and third set for Frankfurt. He made one attack attempt but did not record a kill.

Knack Roselare of Belgium dropped a 3-2 decision to Halkbank Ankara on the road. Sam Holt was used as a substitute on the first, second, and fourth sets. He scored one point from one kill on one attempt.

Cucine Lube Civitanova followed its 3-2 defeat of Azimut Leo Shoes Modena last weekend with a 3-0 sweep of the same club in both teams’ Champions League debuts on Thursday. Osmany Juantorena led the match with 19 points for Lube. While Ivan Zaytsev scored 16 points on 16 kills for Modena, Max Holt contributed seven points from two kills and a match-high five blocks. Micah Christenson set Modena to a .375 attack average and scored two points on a block and a kill.

Jonah Seif was used as a substitute in the second set for Sir Safety Conad Perugia in its 3-0 sweep over Dynamo Moscow. Wilfredo Leon and Aleksandar Atanasijevic both score 18 points each for Perugia. Dick Kooy, Dutch outside hitter, scored 19 points for Moscow.

Jalen Penrose was utilized as a substitute in all three sets and scored three points in CEZ Karlovarsko’s 3-0 defeat to the team leading the Polish PlusLiga, ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Kozle. Penrose hit .400 on the night. Sam Deroo and Lukasz Kaczmarek both scored 18 for ZAKSA.

In the match of the week, Kyle Russell came off the bench to lead the Berlin Recycling Volleys to a 3-1 win over Greenyard Maaseik of Belgium. Russell, opposite, scored 14 points on 12 kills, one block, and one ace with a .320 hitting percentage. He replaced Ben Patch in the middle of the second set. Patch had scored seven points on five kills, one block, and one ace but struggled with efficiency. His five kills came alongside four errors, and he posted a .083 attack average. Jeff Jendryk scored six points in the middle on four kills and two blocks. Dustin Watten passed 45 percent of his service receptions positively and 18 percent perfectly.

CEV Cup: The second round of Europe’s second-tier competition kicked off on Wednesday when Itas Trentino faced off with Lausanne UC of Switzerland. This match took place a week before the other matches in this round due to Trentino taking part in the Club World Championships. Aaron Russell scored 10 points on six kills and a match-high tying four blocks in the win. Russell hit.429 without committing an attack error. The two teams will compete in the return leg in Italy on December 6th.

Italy: Aaron Russell led Trentino and the match with 18 points in his team’s 3-1 win over Kioene Padova. Russell scored on 12 kills, three blocks, and three aces with a.296 hitting percentage. His three kills and three aces tied match-highs. Maurice Torres, formerly of Pepperdine, scored 16 for Padova from 14 kills and 2 blocks.

Azimut Leo Shoes Modena put in an efficient, workmanlike performance in a 3-0 win over Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia in which the victors did not allow more than 19 points in a set. Ivan Zaytsev led the match with nine kills, one block and two aces. Max Holt finished with seven points from four kills, two blocks, and one ace with a .600 hitting percentage. Micah Christenson scored two points on a kill and an ace while setting Modena to a .518 hitting percentage in the win. The sweep coupled with Trentino dropping a set against Padova put Modena in third place behind Perugia and Lube Civitanova. Modena is level on points with Trentino, but ahead on sets ratio.

Kupono Fey hit minus .182 in Globo Banca Popolare del Frusinate Sora’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of Consar Ravenna. Fey finished with one kill in 11 attempts to go along with a block and an ace. The loss drops Sora down to 12th place in the standings.

Sir Safety Conad Perugia reamined in first place but dropped a 3-2 decision at home to Vero Volley Monza. Wilfredo Leon scored 20 points on 13 kills and seven aces. While Leon dropped to third in points per set (5.72) behind Stephen Boyer of Calzedonia Verona (5.86) and Kamil Rychlicki of Consar Ravenna (5.84), he still has the most aces at 1.31 per set. The outside hitter who played the last four seasons at Zenit Kazan is also hitting .535 this  season.

Poland: Jake Langlois and MKS Będzin dropped a pair of matches this past week. On Monday the team fell 3-2 to Aluron Virtu Warta Kawiercie. Langlois, recouping from a sore back, came off the bench in the third set and started sets four and five. He scored six points on six kills with a .667 attack average. MKS Będzin got swept on Friday by Cerrad Czarni Radom. Langlois scored four points on four kills with a .071 hitting percentage.

Asseco Resovia Rzeszów dropped another match on Friday to Indykpol AZS Olsztyn in five sets. Kawika Shoji came off the bench in the third set and started the last two. He set Resovia to a .292 attack average in the sets he started. Dave Smith was used as a substitute in the second set, but did not score a point.

Russia: Fakel Nova Urengoy dropped another point but remained undefeated after a 3-2 win over Kuzbass Kemerovo. Egor Kliuka led the match with 22 points on 19 kills, one block, and two aces. Erik Shoji passed 44 percent of his receptions positively and 25 percent perfectly. This was the second five-set match for Fakel, which dropped one point behind Zenit Kazan and fell to second place.

Germany: The German Bundesliga was on hiatus this weekend as the German Cup took center stage. Ben Patch led the Berlin Recycling Volleys with 13 points on 11 kills and an ace. Patch hit an astounding .846 without committing an attack error. Kyle Russell was used as a substitute in the first and third sets, scoring a point from a block. Jeff Jendryk scored five points in the middle from four kills and one ace with a perfect 1.000 hitting percentage. Dustin Watten led the match with 64 percent of his passes being positive and 45 percent being rated as perfect.

Berlin will face Cody Kessel and Luneburg after its 3-1 victory over United Volleys Frankfurt. Unfortunately the German Bundesliga did not publish the stats sheet by the end of the weekend when this was written.

SWD powervilleys Duren advanced to the semifinals with a 3-1 win over HELIOS GRIZZLYS Giesen. Antwain Aguillard scored 12 points in the middle for Giesen. His points came from eight kills, three blocks, and one ace while hitting .357. Nick Ford did not feature in the match for Duren, who will advance to face VfB Friedrichshafen in the semifinals.

Griffin Shields scored six points on six kills with a .095 attack average in WWK Volleys Herrsching’s 3-0 defeat to VfB Friedrichshafen. Nick West was utilized as a substitute in the second and third sets, scoring a point from a kill and hitting .250.

France: After putting forth a fantastic effort in Russia on Wednesday in the Champions League, Chaumont VB 52 got swept on Saturday by Nantes Reze. Taylor Averill scored 11 points on seven kills, one block, and a team-high three aces while hitting .600 in the loss. Michael Saeta started the first two sets at setter and ran an offense with a .308 attack average.

Dan McDonnell scored 13 points for Tourcoing in its 3-2 loss to Arago de Sete. McDonnell scored on seven kills, three blocks, and three aces. The middle blocker from UC Irvine hit .875 in the defeat. Tourcoing sits in ninth place in the French Ligue A, and Chaumont is right behind in tenth position.

Belgium: Knack Roeselare held off Lindemans Aalst in five sets to remain in first place of the Belgian league. Sam Holt started the first through third sets and scored five points from four kills and a block. Holt hit .182 in the win.

Czech Republic: Matt Walsh came started for VK Odolena Voda in a 3-1 loss to Voleijbol Brno and scored 10 points on eight kills, one block, and one ace. He hit .889 without committing an error in attack. Kevin Gear scored 2 points in the middle for VK Odolena Voda, finishing with one kill on one swing with a block.

Mitch Beal was not featured in VK Ostrava’s 3-0 win over Fatra Zlin.

Finland: Oliver Martin started the first two sets and scored three points for Team Lakkapää in the club’s 3-0 loss to Akaa-Volley. His points came from three kills, and he hit .750. He started and played the whole match in a 3-0 loss to VaLePa. Martin scored four points on four kills with a .143 attack average.

Matt West started the first two sets in a 3-0 loss for Hurrikaani Loimaa against Raison Loimu. He also started and set his team to a .225 hitting percentage in a 3-0 loss to the Vantaa Ducks. West also scored two points on two kills in the win.

Arvis Greene did not play this past weekend for VaLePa in two victories over Akaa-Volley and Kokkolan Tiikerit.

Switzerland: Scott Fifer set his TV Schönenwerd team to a .367 hitting percentage in a four-set victory over Chênois Genève Volleyball. Fifer also registered a block in the victory.

Lucas Yoder helped his team with 14 points as Biogas Volley Näfels beat TSV Jona in four sets. Yoder hit .450 on his way to 12 kills, one block, and one ace.

Looking ahead
Club World Championships: Cucine Lube Civitanova vs. Zenit Kazan, November 27
These two teams are familiar foes but with a different look this year. Last season these two teams faced each other in the finals of the Club World Championships and the finals of the CEV Champions League. Kazan won both of those matches, including an improbable comeback in the fifth set of the Champions League final. Zenit no longer has Wilfredo Leon, the man who carried them to the win in that dramatic tiebreak. Lube Civitanova has a new look to their lineup since bringing in Bruno Rezende, Yoandry Leal, and Robertlandy Simon. This match in Pool A could possibly be a preview of the finals.

Club World Championships: Sada Cruzeiro vs. Itas Trentino, November 28
These two teams have won this tournament more than any other teams in the world. They have combined for seven titles among the 13 editions of the tournament. Sada Cruzeiro lost Yoandy Leal and Roberlandy Simon from last year, and they no longer have William Arjona running their offense. The Brazilian club and three-time winners of the event have brought in Taylor Sander and Kevin LeRoux to get them back on the top of the podium after failing to reach the final last year. Trentino has won the title four times and have made some notable additions to their lineup this year. Uros Kovacevic and Aaron Russell are aptly handling the attacking duties at the left pin, and Jenia Grebennikov is one of the best liberos in the world. Both of these teams should make it to the semifinals.

Club World Championships: Fakel Nova Urengoy vs. Zenit Kazan, November 26
The top two teams in Russia are meeting for the first time this season in the Club World Championships. Both teams are undefeated in the Russian Super League, though Kazan in head of Fakel on points. Matt Anderson has been continued an impressive run of form and Earvin N’Gapeth has been coming into his own with his new team. Denis Butko has been out with injury and Laurent Alekno has been handling the setting duties quite well. Egor Kliuka and Dmitry Volkov have been leading Fakel in attack so far this season. Erik Shoji has been a rock in serve receive. Fakel has not played a team as good as Kazan yet, so this will be a great test heading back to the domestic schedule.

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