International men: Penrose, Holt, Dagostino, Knigge top stars, Champions League matches on tap

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International men 12/3/2019-Aaron Russell
Aaron Russell attempts an attack against a wall of fellow American players- Matt Anderson, Max Holt, Micah and Micah Christenson/trentinovolley.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

Most leagues were in full swing this past week. The quarterfinal round of the cup competitions in Germany and Slovenia took place this past week as well. Many countries had midweek matches with the start of the CEV Champions League right around the corner. A member of the national team signed with a new club and suited up a few teams this past week.

Transfer: Brenden Sander signed with Cerrad Czarni Radom in the Polish PlusLiga. Sander played his rookie season with Lube Civitanova in Italy after graduating from BYU. He did not play much last year after Jiri Kovar returned from a doping suspension. He took part in the KOVO tryout last spring but went undrafted by any of the teams in Korea.

Four stars: There is a very familiar face on the list this week. There are also a few players who are being recognized here for the first time, but have had plenty of accolades throughout their professional or collegiate careers. I added one more player because this list takes two weeks into account, and one player followed a solid performance before Thanksgiving with an absolute stellar outing to end the month of November.

Jalen Penrose, Opposite, WWK Volleyball Herrsching, Germany — Penrose is back on this list after scoring 56 points a week ago. He produced 50 kills, four blocks, and two aces in a pair of matches this past week. He hit over .300 on the week and helped Herrsching gain a place in the semifinals of the German Cup. This last week he led his team with 21 points on 18 kills, two aces, and a block in a first-ever win over VfB Friedrichshafen. He is shouldering the offensive load and Herrsching is currently in third place. That is the highest the club has ever been in the Bundesliga standings.

Max Holt, Middle Blocker, Leo Shoes Modena, Italy — Holt produced three steady performances on the middle for Modena against two teams towards the top of the Italian standings. He hit .714 against on Allianz Milano in a sweep. His five kills also came with four blocks and an ace. He followed that up with 11 points against Trentino. While his hitting percentage dropped to .385, he scored three points from the service line. This past weekend he added 14 more points on nine kills, four blocks, and three aces while hitting .615.

Kyle Dagostino, Libero, ACH Volley, Slovenia — The rookie libero from Stanford has adjusted quite well to professional volleyball. Traditionally his club has skated through the Slovenian domestic league, faced tough competition in the MEZVA, and faced an uphill battle in the Champions League. ACH is not taking part in the regular season of the Slovenian league. This gives a player such as Dagostino with fewer chances on the court to gain his bearings against beatable competition. Dagostino had a busy two weeks in the MEZVA and the Slovenian Cup. He led ACH in serve receive with 76 percent positive passes and 47 percent perfect passes on November 21 in a three-set victory over Salonit in the quarterfinals of the cup. He followed it up November 27 with 64 percent positive and 55 percent perfect receptions in a match that ACH won in five sets over the same team in the second leg of the quarterfinals. Dagostino turned in a 67 and 33 percent passing performance in a sweep over Union Raiffeissen Walviertel of Austria in the MEVZA. The American libero closed out the two-week span with 76 percent positive and 62 percent perfect passes in a MEZVA match against Slovenian rival, Calcit Volley, on December 1.

Matthew Knigge, Middle Blocker, Arenal Emevé, Spain — While Knigge was on this list a few weeks ago, he produced an exceptional performance on November 30 that is very difficult to overlook. He scored 14 points on November 23 in four sets on 12 kills, a block, and an ace. Averaging 3.5 points per set in the middle is quite respectable. Knigge increased that rate to 4.4 points per set on November 30 in a five-set win on November 30. He produced a similar 12 kills in that match, but put down an astounding nine blocks on the win. Knigge was recognized by the Real Federación Española de Voleibol as the week’s MVP.

Italy: Leo Shoes Modena played two matches in the past week and a half. Back on November, Matt Anderson and Holt scored 10 points each in a 3-0 sweep over Allianz Milano. The first two sets were decided by two points each (29-27 and 30-28) before finishing the match in the third set 25-20. Anderson scored on nine kills and a block while hitting .316. Holt’s points came on five kills, four blocks, and an ace. He hit .714 without committing an error in attack. Christenson finished the match with a kill and three blocks, and he set Modena to a .518 attack average in the win. Ivan Zaytsev and Bartosz Bednorz both scored 17 each for Modena. Nimir Abdel-Aziz led the match with 24 points for Milano.

Aaron Russell scored 16 points on November 20 in a shocking five-set defeat of Kioene Padova. He finished with 16 kills and hit .294 in the defeat. That was Padova’s first defeat over a team not in the bottom two places in the standings.

Tonno Callipo Calabria Vibo Valentia picked up its first win of the season in a sweep over Calzedonia Verona on November 20. TJ DeFalco was the third-leading scorer for Vibo Valentia with 13 points. He scored on 11 kills and two blocks while hitting .381. Garrett Muagututia hit .250 while earning five kills and a block. Corey Chavers and Jennings Franciskovic did not play for Verona.

Globo Banca Popolare del Frusinate Sora dropped a 3-1 decision to Top Volley Latina on November 20. Kupono Fey started at outside hitter for Sora, and he scored eight points on five kills and three aces. Fey did not commit an attack error and hit .455.

Modena and Trentino played each other on November 24. Russell scored five points from the service line to go with 11 kills and a block. He hit .400, but that was not enough for Trentino. Anderson and Holt scored 14 and 11 points respectively in a 3-1 victory. Anderson hit .423 on his way to 13 kills to go with an ace. Holt put away eight kills and three aces while hitting .385. Christenson scored on two kills and two blocks while setting Modena to a .484 hitting percentage.

Verona lost to Vero Volley Monza in four sets on November 24. Muagututia scored on six points and a kill with a .200 attack average. Franciskovic and Chavers did not see the court for Verona in the loss.

Sora lost to Milano in four sets on November 24. Fey led Sora in reception with 74 percent positive passes and 57 percent being perfect. Fey registered three kills with a .091 hitting percentage and put down three blocks,

DeFalco scored 13 points for the second time last week in a loss to Lube Civitanova on November 24. He hit .240 on his way to 10 kills to go along with three blocks. Vibo Valentia was led by Timothee Carle’s 17 points.

Wilfredo Leon got a rest, but Perugia still swept Sora on November 27. Fey led Sora again in serve receive with 78 perfect positive passes and 39 percent of his receptions being classified as perfect. He also scored five points on four kills and a block. Fey hit .444 in the loss.

Russell was not in the lineup for Trentino on November 27 when it played Top Volley Latina. Trentino won in four sets to end its two-match losing streak.

Verona lost its third-straight match on November 27 by way of a 3-1 defeat to Consar Ravenna. Muagututia led Verona with 84 percent positive receptions and 52 percent perfect passes, but he hit -.357 with eight attack errors. He finished with three kills, one block, and one ace. Franciskovic and Chavers did not see the floor for Verona.

Franciskovic got the start on December 1 as Verona got back in the win column against Latina. He started the first two sets of a four-set win and set Verona to a .357 hitting percentage during those two sets. Muagututia hit .167, and he finished the match with five kills and a block. Chavers did not play for Verona.

Modena moved into first place with a 3-1 win over Monza on December 1, though it has played one more match than Lube. Holt and Anderson both contributed 14 points in the win. Holt put away nine kills to go with four blocks and an ace with a .615 hitting percentage. Anderson finished with 10 kills, two blocks, and two aces while hitting .192. Christenson also scored one from the service line and set Modena to a .414 attack average in the win. Zaytsev led Modena with 20 points, and Bednorz was right behind with 17.

Sora earned a point, but lost in five sets to Gas Sales Piacenza. Fey scored on four aces, a block, and an ace. He passed 31 serves without an error in reception (48 percent positive, 23 percent perfect) and hit .154.

Vibo Valentia dropped its second tiebreak of the season with a five-set loss to Ravenna. TJ DeFalco was not in the lineup for Vibo Valentia in the defeat.

Russell was used as a substitute in the third and fourth sets for Trentino in a 3-1 loss to Perugia on December 1 in a match that was rescheduled from December 22. He is still recovering from an illness that struck in the middle of the week, and he hit .167 with two kills on the night.

Russia: Erik Shoji and Fakel Novy Urengoy played four matches in the last two weeks. It defeated Belogorie Belgorod in three sets on November 20. Shoji only received seven serves and passed 29 percent of them positively.

Fakel followed it up on November 23 with a sweep over Yenisei Krasnoyarsk. Shoji led Fakel with 73 percent positive and 18 percent perfect passes.

Shoji’s club claimed a point but dropped a match to Dynamo Moscow in five sets on November 27. Shoji registered a 34 and 21 percent performance in serve receive with four passing errors.

Fakel moved into third place in the Russian Super League with a 3-1 win over Dynamo-Lo Leningrad on November 30. Shoji led Fakel with 63 percent positive passes and 13 percent perfect.

Poland: Kawika Shoji had an ace for Asseco Resovia Rzeszów in a 3-0 defeat to PGE Skra Bełchatów
on November 20. He came off the bench as a substitute in the first two sets and started the third set at setter for Resovia.

David Smith scored 12 points in the middle for ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Kozle in a 3-2 defeat to Verva Warsaw on November 20. Smith hit .600 to finish with 10 kills and two blocks.

Dustin Watten started at libero for GKS Katowice as they dropped a tight 3-1 decision to Cerrad Czarni Radom on November 20. Watten finished with 50.00 percent of his passes being positive and 29.17 percent being classified as perfect.

Josh Tuaniga set Ślepsk Malow Suwałki to a .337 hitting percentage in 3-1 victory over Indykpol AZS Olsztyn on November 23. He also chipped in three kills and a block. Nicolas Szerszen led Suwałki with 12 kills, three blocks, and one ace.

Watten led Katowice in serve receive with 57.89 percent positive and 42.11 percent perfect passes in a 3-2 win over BKS Visła Bydgoszcz on November 23.

Smith was a perfect five for five in attacks as ZAKSA bounced back to sweep Skra on November 24.

Brenden Sander made his Polish debut for Radom on November 24 in a 3-0 loss to third-placed Warsaw. Sander came off the bench in the second and third sets. He scored two points from two kills on two swings for a perfect 1.000 attack average.

Tuaniga did not start Suwałki’s match against Aluron Virtu Zawiercie on November. He started the final set at setter, but Zawiercie won the match in straight sets.

Brenden Sander takes an approach for Radom in its match against Jastrzębski Węgiel on November 27/plusliga.pl photo

Sander came off the bench in the first set and started the fourth set for Radom in a 3-1 defeat to second-placed Jastrzębski Węgiel on November 27. He ended up scoring seven points on six kills and a block with a .364 attack average.

Watten helped Katowice get a 3-1 victory over MKS Bedzin on November 27. The starting libero led his team in passing with 48.15 percent positive passes and 18.52 percent perfect passes.

Dave Smith was honored by Resovia, the club he played with last season/plusliga.pl photo

Despite being in tenth place and having only won two matches, Resovia gave league-leading ZAKSA all it could handle on November 27. Shoji was used as a serving substitute on the first, third, fourth, and fifth sets for Resovia in a 3-2 defeat. Smith scored eight points in the middle on seven kills and a block with a .778 hitting percentage for
ZAKSA.

Smith scored eight points on November 30 in a 3-1 win for ZAKSA against GKS Katowice. His points came from seven kills and a block with a .461 attack average. Watten passed 48.15 percent positively and 33.33 percent perfectly.

Tuaniga started the first two sets for Suwałki, and was replaced in the second. He contributed a block and Suwałki fell to Cuprum in straight sets.

Shoji was used as a serving substitute in the second set of Resovia’s four-set defeat to Warsaw. That loss capped of a tough week for Resovia, who had to play the top two teams in the PlusLiga in consecutive matches.

Sander was used as a substituted for Radom in the second, third, and fourth sets of a 3-1 victory over Zawiercie on December 1. He took one swing but did not earn a kill.

France: Max Chamberlain was used as a serving substitute in the first four sets of Tourcoing’s 3-2 victory over Arago de Sete. Chamberlain finished the match with an ace. Tourcoing is in third place with a 7-2 record and 19 points. Both teams ahead of it in the standings (Rennes and Montpellier) both have 7-2 records.

Poitiers picked up its third win in its last four matches by way of a 3-1 victory over Chaumont on November 23. Micah Ma’a set Poitiers to a .400 attack average. He also scored four points on three kills and an ace. Mitch Stahl was used as a substitute in the second and fourth sets for Chaumont but did not score any points.

After starting the Ligue A season with a 4-0 record, Cannes lost its next five matches. Its latest defeat was a 3-0 sweep at the hands of Montpellier. Kyle Russell scored 12 points from 12 kills and hit .292. Matt West set Cannes to a .250 hitting percentage and put away a pair of kills.

Price Jarman came off the bench in the third set of a 3-0 win by Tours VB over Paris Volley. He did not score any points during his time in the match.

James Shaw was not in the squad for Narbonne, who lost to Nice in three sets.

Cannes got itself back into the win column on November 29 with a five-set victory over Poitiers. Russell scored 15 points on 14 kills and an ace. He hit .158 in the win. West set Cannes to a .315 attack average and scored three points of his own on a kill and two blocks. Ma’a set Poitiers to a .318 hitting percentage while chipping in two aces, a block, and a kill.

Chamberlain came off the bench in the first and second sets for Tourcoing on November 29 in 3-0 defeat to Paris. He scored two points from an ace and a kill (on one attack attempt).
Jarman came off the bench as a substitute in the fourth set for Tours. He did not score any points in a 3-1 victory back on November 30.

Stahl put away four kills and scored on five aces for Chaumont in a 3-0 win over Narbonne on November 30. He also hit .667 without commiting a single attack error. Shaw was not dressed out for Narbonne.

Germany: The quarterfinal matches of the German Cup took place on November 20. Berlin Recycling Volleys defeated VfB Friedrichshafen in three sets. Ben Patch put away ten kills and hit .174 with six errors. Jeff Jendryk scored three points in the middle on two kills and a block. Kyle Ensing came off the bench in the second and third sets. He took one attack attempt and did not score any points. Cody Kessel and JT Hatch did not see any action for Berlin. Brendan Schidt scored two points from a kill and a block with a .000 hitting percentage in the middle for Friedrichshafen. Joe Worsley came off the bench in the first set and set Friedrichshafen the rest of the match. In sets he started, he set his team to a .270 attack average. Worsley also contributed a kill.

Jalen Penrose puts away one of his 25 kills in the German Cup quarterfinal match/geilsterclubderwelt.de photo

Jalen Penrose put WWK Volleys Herrsching on his back and carried his club the cup semifinal with a 28 points in a 3-1 win over Volleyball Bisons Bühl. He was the favorite target of setter Johannes Tille, who set Penrose a team-high 43 times. Penrose finished with 25 kills, two blocks, and an ace with a .372 hitting percentage.

Mitch Penning scored 11 points in the middle for TV Rottenburg in a 3-1 win over Helios Grizzlys Giesen to reach the semifinal. Penning hit .750 without an attack error and finished with six kills to go along with five blocks. Karl Apfelbach started the final set for Rottenburg. While he hit .000, he registered five kills and a block. Mike Wexter did not start for Giesen, but was used prominently in each set. He scored 11 points on 11 kills and hit .222. David Wieczorek did not play for Giesen.

The Bundesliga picked back up last weekend and Giesen dropped a tight one to Netzhoppers KW-Bestensee in five sets on October 23. Wieczorek started the first three sets for Giesen and scored 10 points on 10 kills. He hit .250 in three sets of action. Wexter was used as a substitute in the first three sets and started the final two, He finished the match with 12 kills and a .434 hitting percentage.

Michael Michelau was utilized as a substitute in the third set for SVG Lüneburg in a sweep of SWD powervolleys Duren on November 23. He did not score any points during his time on the court. Leo Durkin did not play for Lüneburg.

Schmidt scored 10 points for Friedrichshafen, who defeated TV Rottenburg in four sets on November 23. He scored on nine kills and a block with a .538 attack average. Worsley was used as a substitute in the first and fourth sets. Apfelbach started the first three sets and came off the bench in the fourth for Rottenburg. He contributed seven kills with a .042 hitting percentage. Penning did not see the court for Rottenburg.

Bühl avenged its cup defeat to Herrsching earlier in the week with a 3-2 victory on November 23. Greg Petty scored 14 points from eight kills, five blocks, and one ace. The outside hitter posted .174 hitting percentage. Penrose produced 28 points for a second time in the week. He put away 25 kills to go along with two blocks and an ace while hitting .259.

Berlin made quick work of Heitec Volleys Eltmann on November 24. Jendryk and Kessel both put 14 points on the stat page. Jendryk scored on nine kills, four blocks, and one ace. The middle blocker from Team USA hit .462 in the 3-0 victory. Kessel contributed 14 kills with a .619 hitting percentage. JT Hatch scored 11 points on eight kills, two blocks, and one ace with an .087 attack average. Ensing started at opposite and posted seven points from five kills, a block, and an ace with an .095 hitting percentage. Patch saw limited action off the bench in the second and third sets. He put away two kills on three attempts for a .667 attack average.

Patch led Berlin on November 30 with 18 points in a 3-0 win over Bühl. Patch registered 13 kills with a .684 hitting percentage to accompany four blocks and an ace. Kessel came off the bench in the first two sets and started the third. He scored five points on five kills with a .250 attack average. Jendryk also hit .250 on his way to four kills. Kyle Ensing came off the bench in the first and third sets. He hit .125 and earned a kill. Hatch did not see any action for Berlin. Petty scored nine points for Bühl on seven kills, one block, and one ace. Petty hit .158 in the defeat.

Durkin started the first two sets for Lüneburg in a 3-1 win over Giesen. He set Lüneburg to a .356 hitting percentage in the two sets he started before being subbed out. Michelau was used as a serving substitute in the second set and committed a serving error. Wexter led Giesen and the match with 25 points. Wexter registered 19 kills with a .350 attack average. He also chipped in a block and four aces. Wieczorek was right behind with 20 points on 20 kills while hitting an impressive .459.

Herrsching pulled off a huge win against Friedrichshafen in five sets on November 30. Penrose led Herrsching with 21 points on 18 kills, two aces, and a block. He hit .290 in the win. Schmidt scored four points in the middle for Friedrichshafen on three kills and an ace while hitting .222. Worsley was used as a substitute in the fourth set.

Apfelbach came off the bench in the third set and played the rest of the way for Rottenburg, who defeated Frankfurt in five sets. The rookie opposite from UC Irvine scored 15 points in just over two sets of play. He put away 11 kills and hit .434 from the right side in addition to three blocks and an ace. Penning scored seven points in the middle from four kills and three blocks with a .250 hitting percentage.

Joe Norman seized an opportunity in his first start for Knack Roeselare in the Belgian Euromillions Volley League/Xavier Kapfer Facebook

Belgium: Joe Norman started at opposite for Knack Roeselare on November 24. He led his team with 21 points in a 3-0 win over VBC Waremme. His points came from 16 kills, four blocks, and one ace. Norman also hit .583 from the right side.

Czech Republic: Matt August and Brno defeated Ústí nad Labem in straight sets on November 23. August scored six points on five kills and an ace. He hit .714 in the win. Melcher started the first set for Labem and set them to a .042 hitting percentage in that set. He was utilized as a substitute in the third set.

Scott Fifer’s Příbram lost to Liberec on November 25 in a tiebreak. Fifer did not get the start at setter but came off the bench in the first set. Fifer was not in the lineup and did not see any action.

Kevin Gear and Odolena Voda earned a 3-2 win over CEZ Karlovarsko on November 23. Gear scored 11 points in the middle on five kills, five blocks, and an ace. His kills came accompanied with a pair of errors, and he hit .250. Ryan Moss, rookie from USC, reaggravated a hamstring injury that sidelined him at the beginning of season. After scoring 17 on the right side the previous match against Liberec, he unfortunately was not in the lineup against Karlovarsko. An MRI showed it was torn, and he is not expected to be back on the court before the middle of January.

Brno beat Odolena Voda in four sets on November 30. August hit .300 and scored eight points. His points came by way of five kills, two blocks, and one ace. Gear scored six for Odolena Voda on four kills, one block, and one ace with a .286 hitting percentage.

Fifer was not dressed out for Příbram in a 3-0 loss to Karlovarsko on November 30.

Melcher was utilized as a substitute in the first two sets and started the final two sets in a four-set defeat to Praha on December 2. Melcher set Ústí nad Labem to a .344 attack average in the sets he started and also added a kill.

Finland: Savo Volley claimed a four-set victory over Karelian Hurmos on November 22. Josh Ayzenberg passed 58 percent of his receptions positively and 21 percent were rated as perfect for Savo. Kyle Foley did not play for Hurmos.

Hurrikaani Loimaa swept Team Lakkapää on November 23. Ryan Manoogian received six serves and produced a 50 and 33 percent passing performance.

Raison Loimu defeated Team Lakkapää in four sets on November 24. Blake Leeson hit .400 and scored eight points in the middle for Loimu. He earned five kills, two blocks, and a service ace. Avery Aylsworth led the squad with 61 percent positive passes and 13 percent perfect. Manoogian finished with 48 percent positive and 21 percent perfect passes in serve receive for Lakkapää.

Foley got the start at setter and ran the Hurmos offense with a .267 attack efficiency in a 3-0 loss to Tiikerit on November 26.

Loimu dropped a match to Hurrikaani Loimaa in three sets on November 28. Leeson finished with four points on three kills and a block. He hit .375 without an attack error. Aylsworth passed 50 percent of receptions positively and 42 percent perfectly.

Ayzenberg led Savo Volley with a 56 percent rate of positive passes in a 3-2 loss to Akaa Volley on November 30. He also posted a 4 percent rate of perfect receptions in the defeat.

Team Lakkapää dropped another match on November 30, this time to Tiikerit. Manoogian passed 35 percent positive and 18 percent perfect in a straight-set defeat.

Foley did not see the court for Hurmos in a 3-1 loss to Akaa Volley on December 1.

Ryan Manoogian completes a pass in a performance that earned him MVP honors for his team/mestaruusliiga.fi photo

Manoogian dropped a 65 and 18 percent passing performance against Loimaa in a four-set defeat on December 2. He did not commit an error in reception, making his passing performance a team-high. Manoogian was also named the best player of the match for Team Lakkapää.

Slovenia: ACH Volley had a busy week in the MEZVA and the Slovenian Cup. It played Salonit Anhovo twice in the quarterfinals of the Slovenian Cup on November 21 and 27. Kyle Dagostino led ACH in serve receive with 76 percent positive passes and 47 percent perfect passes on November 21 on a three-set victory. He followed it up on November 27 with 64 percent positive and 55 percent perfect receptions in a match that ACH won in five sets..

ACH Volley beat Union Raiffeissen Walviertel of Austria in the MEVZA on November 24. Dagostino turned in a 67 and 33 percent passing performance in the sweep that lasted just over 70 minutes.

Dagostino and his club followed that up with a 3-1 win in the MEVZA over domestic rival Calcit Volley on December 1. The American libero led the match with 76 percent positive and 62 percent perfect passes.

Spain: Nick Amado started the fourth set in the middle for Unicaja Costa de Almería in a 3-1 victory over Voley Textil Santanderina. He scored a point from a block and hit .000 on two attack attempts.

Amado got the start in the middle for Almería on November 30. He scored six points on five kills and an ace with a .200 attack average. Almería dropped a 3-2 decision to CV Teurel.

Mathew Knigge was the MVP of the Spanish Superliga last week after a 22-point performance on November 30/rfevb.com photo

Matthew Knigge scored 14 points to Arenal Emevé in a losing effort against Vecindario ACE GC on November 23. Knigge hit .368 on his way to 12 kills. He also chipped in a block and a kill in the four-set defeat.

Knigge followed up that performance with 22 points in a five-set win over Ushuaïa Ibiza Voley on November 30. He put away 10 kills and hit .500 on the night. He also contributed an ace and a match-high nine blocks in a performance that earned him the title as Spain’s most valuable player last week.

Switzerland: Mitch Beal scored 14 points for TSV Jona Volleyball in a 3-1 loss to Chênois Genève Volleyball on November 23. Beal registered 11 kills and three blocks while hitting .129. Grayson Overman hit .556 in the middle, He finished the match with five kills and a block.

Beal contributed eight points to Jona in a straight-set defeat to Lindaren Volley Amriswil on November 30. He put away seven kills with a .667 hitting percentage to go with a block. Overman finished the match with three kills and a block. Overman was a perfect three kills on three attempts in attack. Matt Yoshimoto did not play for Amriswil.

Looking Ahead
Champions League:
ACH Volley vs. Berlin Recycling Volleys, December 3 — The return of the group stage of the CEV Champions League is incredibly exciting. This is the first chance we have to see American players in the world’s premier club competition. ACH Volley has been playing solid volleyball, but have not faced much tough competition. The same can be said for Berlin, who have gotten off to a blistering pace in the Bundesliga, and beaten Friedrichshafen twice (Super Cup and German Cup). ACH has not had much success in this competition since reaching the playoffs in 2013, and Berlin’s 2019 campaign stalled in the group stage as well.

Champions League: VfB Friedrichshafen vs. Knack Roeselare, December 4 –Friedrichshafen is not quite having the start to its season that it was looking for. Sure, it is undefeated in the German Bundesliga after eight matches, but it has been knocked out of two domestic cup competitions in convincing fashion by its fiercest rival in Berlin. This match provides an opportunity to get out of the blocks quickly in this tournament to try and return back to the playoffs Roeselare is near the apex of Belgian volleyball this season. Its only loss has come to Greenyard Maaseik, and this match can give Joe Norman and company a chance to make a statement on the European stage.

Germany: WWK Volleyball Herrsching vs. Berlin Recycling Volleys, December 8 — For all the success Berlin has had in the Bundesliga (10 titles including seven of the last eight), it has only won the German Cup twice in the last 20 years (2000 and 2016). With the tournament’s most successful club, VfB Friedrichshafen (16 cup titles including five of the last six), not reaching the semifinals, Berlin has to like its chances. Standing in the way is Herrsching and Penrose. The opposite from Penn State has been on a tear the last few weeks in the Bundesliga and the German Cup. Herrsching pulled off a historic win over Friedrichshafen last week. Luckily for Berlin, it will get to remain at home for its Champions League fixture, so it will not have to travel in the middle of the week before this important match.

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